This chapter traces the cultural and historical antecedents of leadership in English schools by drawing upon recent research and analyses of headship. Having identified some of the cultural traditions that underpin current policy making, I will argue that
1. School leadership in England continues to be preoccupied with organizational power relations;
2. These relations tend to sustain the domination of leaders in “their” schools; and 3. Such a configuration of authority has implications not only for schooling, but
This argument is based on certain beliefs and suppositions including the importance of understanding the values and assumptions that shape leadership in any given context. One of the most robust findings about leadership is that it is contextualized (Leithwood, Jantzi, & Steinbach, 1999). Contingency and situational theories of leadership (Fiedler, 1977; Hersey & Blanchard, 1983) have proved valuable in demonstrating the ways in which leaders are influenced by the circumstances in which they work. These circumstances include organizational and occupational cultures, and much valuable work has been done to uncover how these contour and constrain leadership (e.g. Bolman & Deal, 1992; Nias, Southworth, & Yeomans, 1989; Schein, 1985). However, less work has been done on how the wider societal culture influences leadership. Here political and social values come into play, albeit in implicit and tacit ways. Nor has much work been done to explore the dynamics of this influence. Beliefs about charismatic and heroic leadership, for example, imply that leaders are “free from” such social influences. By contrast,
Giddens’ (1979) theory of structuration and agency suggests that social structures pervasively and powerfully shape individual's actions.