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Leading in complexity: the sleeping innovation


Leppard, LJ, Leading in complexity: the sleeping innovation, Australian Educational Leader, 38, (3) pp. 26-29. ISSN 1832-8245 (2016) [Professional, Non Refereed Article]

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The work of leadership takes place within systems in the way fish live in water; the fact is so pervasive that, in the way that fish exist in water and ask no questions of it, leaders can lead within the system as an indivisible part of it. Just like water, the system just is, and the lived in school landscape of leadership is largely unexamined and the potential of complexity unexplored. This paper explores some of these unexamined assumptions and proposes that the system landscape of schools is not the environment that it is generally envisioned to be. This mismatch between prevailing mental maps and the real landscape of schools may mean that the ways in which principals are encouraged and required to work do not fit the realities of their world. In summary, schools are complex adaptive social systems not the complicated linear technical systems that policies, public discourse and educational leadership assume or expect them to be. The consequences of this misalignment may be profound.

This paper offers an overview of the differences between complicated and complex systems, what makes schools complex adaptive social systems (CASS) and the leadership work that aligns with the sort of systems schools really are. Most importantly, it points to leadership practices that are highly effective in complex organisations and in responding to ‘wicked problems’.

Item Details

Item Type:Professional, Non Refereed Article
Keywords:ethical school leadership, complexity leadership. adaptive leadership
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Specialist studies in education
Research Field:Educational administration, management and leadership
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Schools and learning environments
Objective Field:Management, resources and leadership
UTAS Author:Leppard, LJ (Mr Lynden Leppard)
ID Code:121891
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2017-10-19
Last Modified:2017-10-23

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