From simplicism to complexity in leadership identity and preparation: exploring the lineage and dark secrets

Lumby, Jacky and English, Fenwick (2008) From simplicism to complexity in leadership identity and preparation: exploring the lineage and dark secrets. International Journal of Leadership in Education, 12, (2), 95-114. (doi:10.1080/13603120802449678).


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This paper challenges the largely Western, functionalist and unitary notion of the self which underlies contemporary international approaches to educational leadership preparation. It locates an alternative concept of the self as simultaneously singular and multiple in deep-rooted and persisting mythic, religious and metaphysical thinking. The paper suggests that identity is self- and co-constructed to achieve a sense of coherence, worth and belonging, primarily through ongoing narratives and relationships. As a consequence, a leader must construct an identity performance to take up the role of leader, develop narratives and adapt identities to the ongoing surveillance of an accountability audience. The paper suggests that preparation, in focusing on the acquisition of technical craft skills related to administration and socialisation into a generally uncontested set of values and norms, evades and miniaturises the performance of leadership. The preparation of leaders for complex, uncertain and ambiguous roles may be supported by focusing on the mythic narratives of self and context, thereby examining how the many, fluid and constantly mutating intersections of conscious and subconscious selves may be utilised to enact a self-aware leadership.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/13603120802449678
ISSNs: 1360-3124 (print)
1464-5092 (electronic)
Keywords: leadership, identity, myths, drama
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Leadership, School Improvement and Effectiveness
ePrint ID: 65711
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
April 2008Published
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2009
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:51

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