Thank you for the inspiration

As part of the new Scottish ‘Into Headship’ course, I have done a lot of reading of academic journals, articles and research into leadership. I have found a lot of resonance within the articles that I have read; both between the ideas of the various writers and with my own ideas on leadership and the vision of the leader I aspire to be.

I have decided that, in this post, I am going to collect together my favourite quotes from the reading I have done. The purpose of this is two-fold. Firstly I will have a repository of inspiration to refer to when I have doubts about what I am doing in future. Secondly, readers may be inspired to look further into the writing from which the quotes have been taken and learn more about leadership.


‘Successful change involves learning during implementation. One of the most powerful drivers of change involves learning from peers, especially those who are further along in implementing new ideas.’ (Fullan, 2009, p3).

Fullan, M., 2009. The challenge of change: Start school improvement now! Corwin Press. Chapter 2 – 8 Forces for Leaders of Change.

‘Consequently, the leadership and management of school improvement needs to be holistic, but it must also be consistent and intentional’ (Dimmock and Walker 2004 p 43)

‘…major change in schools often takes five to ten years to embed.’ (Dimmock and Walker 2004, p 41)

Clive Dimmock & Allan Walker (2004) A new approach to strategic leadership: learning‐centredness, connectivity and cultural context in school design, School Leadership & Management, 24:1, 39-56, DOI: 10.1080/1363243042000172813

‘The danger here is that we end up valuing what is measured, rather than that we engage in measurement of what we value’. (Biesta 2008, p43).

Biesta, G. (2008) Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Published online: 2 December 2008 © Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008.

‘….we acknowledge the importance of attending to the transactions between different actors, and between actors and their contexts.’ (Priestley & Miller 2012, p 100)

‘Cultural and structural systems pre-exist human activity. As well as providing the context for human activity, they are modified by the intended and unintended consequences of such activity (Archer 1995). Seen in this way, human agency is in part an effect of the interplay of the cultural and structural systems – something to be achieved, the extent of which will vary for individual actors from one social setting to the next.’ (Priestley & Miller 2012, p 105)

Priestley & K. Miller (2012) Educational change in Scotland: policy, context and biography, The Curriculum Journal, 23:1, 99-116, DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2012.650490

 ‘Now, helpfulness sounds really anaemic, but it’s absolutely core to successful teams, and it routinely outperforms individual intelligence. Helpfulness means I don’t have to know everything, I just have to work among people who are good at getting and giving help. (Heffernan, 2015, 06:14)

Heffernan, M (2015) TED talk – Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work.

‘Recognising the importance of influence as a form of power allows for a more complete picture of policy making at several levels – one in which decisions are seen as the outcome of continuous interaction between individuals and collectives.’ (Bell and Stevenson, 2006)

Bell, Leslie and Stevenson, Howard (2006). Education policy: process, themes and impact. Leadership for learning. Routledge, London. ISBN 0415377722, 9780415377720.

‘Moral and authentic leadership’ is ‘underpinned strongly by leaders’ values’ (Bush and Glover 2014, p 559).

‘We can all think of charismatic or transformational leaders whose purposes were inappropriate or immoral (e.g. Hitler)’ (Bush and Glover 2014, p 559).

Bush, Tony, and Derek Glover. “School leadership models: what do we know?.” School Leadership & Management 34.5 (2014): 553-571.

 ‘It is important that any strategic or operational decisions are set in a futures context. The school needs to scan its long-term environment to identify the developing ideas and trends that will form the strategic agenda in the future. Schools need to understand the world in which their pupils will seek employment and live and begin to formulate approaches that will enable them to succeed in the world in 15-20 years’ time. Fifteen years is only the length of one child’s educational journey.’ (Davies 1998, p 467)

‘We believe that strategic intent can be utilised as a means of increasing organisational capability to cope successfully with managing in times of great turbulence’. (Davies 1998, p 472).

Davies, Brent. “Strategic planning in schools: an oxymoron?” School Leadership & Management 18.4 (1998): 461-473.

 ‘..collaborative leadership, as opposed to leadership from the principal alone, may offer a path towards more sustainable school improvement.’ (Heck and Hallinger, p 107)

Philip Hallinger & Ronald H. Heck (2010) Collaborative leadership and school improvement: understanding the impact on school capacity and student learning, School Leadership & Management, 30:2, 95-110, DOI: 10.1080/13632431003663214

‘..making meaning, as a process of argumentation for and justification of action, is about relationships and interactions.’ (Reeves and Boreham 2006, p 471)

‘It was, however, a natural implication of the idea of organisational learning that the people on the ground should take responsibility for improvement, and that it was therefore up to them to identify what needed doing (rather than for the authority to prescribe priorities for them).’ (Reeves and Boreham, 2006, p478).

Jenny Reeves & Nick Boreham (2006) What’s in a vision? Introducing an organisational learning strategy in a local authority’s education service, Oxford Review of Education, 32:4, 467-486

‘Humour, sensitively used, can get a group to handle difficult issues in insightful ways and develop a deeper sense of connection, of we-ness, with others.’ (Novak, 2008, p4)

‘The idea of a warranted meliorism, where bad things might be made less bad and good things might be made better, is based on a view of positive psychology (Seligman, 2002) that has solid empirical support’. (Novak, 2008, p2)

‘The imaginative new passionate leadership involves more than one person, the person in charge, feeling others’ pain and possibilities. It encourages all involved to be active participants, using this social aesthetic sensibility to deepen and create with the felt qualities mutually experienced. Like a good jazz band, a common theme is expressed and imaginative new directions are explored and continued.’ (Novak, 2008, p4)

Chapter 2: Inviting Passionate Educational Leadership by John M. Novak in Brent Davis and Tim Brighouse (eds) Passionate Leadership in Education. 2008 SAGE Publications Ltd, London. Print ISBN: 9781412948623


Finally, one of my main sources of inspiration as I undertake the journey towards Headship, is Headteacher-Blogger and SCEL Fellow George Gilchrist. George inspires me perhaps more than anyone else because he talks from the perspective of his current practice; he talks the talk and walks the walk of evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence:

‘As he was reading now he came across Michael Fullan, Andy Hargreaves, Alma Harris, Maryln Cochran-Smith, Helen Timperley and many others. He began to see the importance of being relentless, being focused, slowing down, impact for learners, enquiring into practice and the dangers of initiativitis, fads, trends, snake-oil salesmen, and doing too many things. He began to realise that by doing less it was possible to achieve more. He saw that if he slowed down he could achieve more. He saw how if he connected what he did to the core business of learning and teaching, he could achieve more. He began to feel that if he could do more through having these insights, and acting on them, so could everyone else.’

School Leadership; a Scottish Perspective. Blog by George Gilchrist. At


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