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Authentic Leadership


This article is Part 2 of an 11 part series of reflections on Patrick Duignan's book, "Educational Leadership".


One of the themes of Duignan's work is the idea of authenticity: authentic leadership, authentic relationships and authentic learning. George (2003) says that leadership begins and ends with authenticity (Duignan, 2012, p.13), while Sarratt (2004) claims that authenticity can be learnt and built by 'the cultivation of virtues', (p.8)


Authentic leadership is marked by a clear moral purpose and commitment to the wellbeing and authentic learning of students and teachers in their learning community. Leaders need to have clear insights into their own and other's value sets in order to develop their own moral compass. They are then able to develop clear and shared values and goals, a shared sense of moral purpose for quality learning and a vision for the future which inspires ownership, commitment, hope, purpose, direction and courage in those they work with (Patrick Duignan 2012, pp. 9–11). This vision must be connected to expectations for student learning and forms the basis for school improvement planning.


The articulation of a vision necessarily involves leaders consulting members of their community and establishing the foundations of an organisational culture that supports the aspirations of all stakeholders. This collaborative process helps to bring people to a fuller understanding of their moral purpose and direction, and to a strategic sense of their work (Duignan 2012, pp. 53–55).


Authentic leaders develop relationships based on integrity, trust and respect for the dignity and worth of others, and are relatively transparent and not afraid to be so. They understand the importance of presence in building relationships and the significance of influence in leading a community (Duignan).


Authentic educational leaders have a deep commitment to the wellbeing of their school community, the authenticity of what happens within this environment, and a passion for quality learning and learning outcomes (Author, 2012). They pay close attention to the quality of learning environments and the impact of teaching on students’ learning and they create the conditions within which teachers and students take collective responsibility for the quality of learning and learning outcomes. They are acutely aware that reflective teaching is a key to educational improvement and provide teachers with opportunities for such reflection by allocating time improvement (Duignan).


Publication bibliography

Duignan, P (Unpublished). Leadership Presence and Influence Relationships: building collective efficacy and professional responsibility for quality learning and teaching in schools.

Duignan, P. (2012). Educational Leadership (2nd ed). Melbourne, NSW: Cambridge University Press.


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