Widening the leadership story – moving beyond the individual


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Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice

New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society

Subject: Education


ISSN: 1178-8690





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VOLUME 33 , ISSUE 1 (June 2018) > List of articles

Widening the leadership story – moving beyond the individual

Linda Baxendine

Keywords : Democratic leadership; leadership-as-practice; early childhood education; collaboration; place-based education

Citation Information : Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice. Volume 33, Issue 1, Pages 46-56, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21307/jelpp-2018-005

License : (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Published Online: 02-April-2019



Distributed leadership that includes democratic practices can open spaces for children and their families to share their knowledge and skills and participate in everyday early childhood leadership activity. Drawing on the findings of a Masters thesis this article discusses how one kindergarten’s exploration of the local community has afforded insights into reframing leadership as an emerging social process whereby teachers, children and families are participants in an approach to leadership described as democratic leadership. Past leadership research has commonly focused on skills, traits and behaviours of people deemed leaders. Moving away from the primacy of the individual towards knowing leadership as an emergent phenomenon that exists between people incorporating multiple worldviews, elevates democratic principles such as collaboration and meaningful participation. Leadership-as-practice was used to analyse the ways in which excursions into the community have broadened teachers’ understandings of leadership and fostered more democratic and inclusive participation of children and families in the kindergarten programme. Utilising excursions within the local community as a mechanism to support a democratic form of leadership suggests that leadership can be perceived as arising from the collective work of people in everyday contexts. The value of extending the learning environment beyond the boundaries of the kindergarten, to engage with the local community, offers possibilities to make connections with the surrounding land, understand local stories, histories and cultural events. In this sense democratic leadership intersects with place-based education as children’s awareness of themselves as citizens of a community deepens. Inquiry as a form of participatory democracy was a key feature of decision-making in this study and provided a common purpose for community excursions while encouraging leadership opportunities.

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