Thursday, October 8, 2009

Henri, J. (1994). Thinking leadership: What place vision? School Libraries in Canada, 14, 12-14.

"Vision becomes the life blood of leadership when it is shared." (Henri, 1994, p.12)

"The art of leadership can be seen as the ability to influence people to strive willingly for the attainment of group goals." (Henri, 1994, p.12) Or, to strive willingly to attain the vision.
Thus leadership, in the exercising of influence, involves the use of power.
Henri considers four types of power. Types one (the authority of position) and two (factional self interest) are often preferred because they are uncomplicated and effective in the short term. But it is types three (technical expertise or knowledge) and four (the ability to empower others) which Henri says have long term benefits.
Leaders who are able to identify obstacles to the attainment of the vision, and are able to harness technical expertise to overcome these obstacles, are demonstrating type three power.
Leaders wo are able to shape and focus the motives and goals of group members, and contribute to their personal growth, are demonstrating type four power.
Leaders who employ type three and four power then work through the following steps:
1. Work with the group to develop the vision.
2. Work with the group to overcome short term barriers to the vision.
3. Provides the resources and strategies to enable the group to overcome persisting barriers.
Within schools, the environment is characterised by multiple problems, constant change and often contradictory pressures. In this environment, leaders must work to encourage flexibility so that group members can employ alternative strategies . Leaders should also harness the power of collaborative problem solving.
This last sentence is, I think, an important point. Why have each member of staff work independently, with varying degrees of success, to overcome similar problems. Why not combine energy to work together to solve these problems. Teachers shouldn't be isolated in their classroom trying to work towards a vision that they have little connection with. Instead, teachers should work together to not only define and refine the vision, but work on strategies to work towards it.

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