Between a rock and a hard place: Leadership dilemmas in Tasmanian early education and care centres
Reynolds, B, Between a rock and a hard place: Leadership dilemmas in Tasmanian early education and care centres, Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 26, (2) pp. 26 - 34. ISSN 1178-8690 (2011) [Refereed Article]
A contributing factor in the promotion of high quality early childhood education programmes in Australia and elsewhere is effective leadership (Ebbeck & Waniganayake, 2003; Neugebauer, 2003a). This means that leaders need particular skills and dispositions to work in partnership with staff to resolve any relational concerns, because these tend to manifest as leadership dilemmas (Reynolds & Cardno, 2008). This article reports on the incidence and nature of leadership dilemmas and how 18 managers of early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres in northern Tasmania, Australia, have responded. The study was qualitative and employed a structured questionnaire. The findings show that 94% of the respondents acknowledge that leadership dilemmas exist and these managers found these complex problems most challenging because of their desire to meet the needs of both the organisation and the individual. These leaders' accounts of their responses to leadership dilemmas reflect some similarities to those noted by Reynolds and Cardno in their research concerning managers in ECEC centres in New Zealand. However, a significant difference in the findings from the study reported in this paper is that these managers are able to recognise leadership dilemmas even though they find these problems challenging. Overall, the results from this study support the need for more national and international research in the area, greater access to effective leadership training programmes for professionals in this field and for pre-service early childhood teachers.