Have you ever heard about transformational leadership? It is about guiding through inspiration and enhancing followers’ motivation, morale, and job performance through various mechanisms. In fact, it was the American scholar in leadership studies and organizational behaviour Bernard Morris Bass who developed his well-known theory from the original ideas of James MacGregor Burns. 

Why should teachers care? Because new leadership and progressive teaching have much in common, be it people, methods, or learning itself. Most importantly, new leadership means getting things done through people, not by people. Isn’t this what we, the teachers, should aim at?

Let us look at the characteristics of new leadership first.

  • Idealised influence – the leader behaves according to high moral and ethical standards and so inspires confidence and loyalty in followers.
  • Inspirational motivation – the leader holds a strong vision for the future; the leader creates enthusiasm, builds confidence and inspires followers.
  • Intellectual stimulation – the leader challenges organisational norms; the leader encourages subordinates to be creative and innovative.
  • Individualised consideration – the leader is concerned with the personal and professional development of subordinates; acts as mentor or coach; consults with subordinates.

So perhaps we should move from knowing our subject matter and understanding various teaching methods towards connectedness and mobilizing young people? And how about drawing leadership out of our students so that their actions would be aligned to their purpose?

There is a difference between a difficulty and a mess. While a difficulty can typically be explained and solved with current thinking, a mess is much more ambiguous. Sometimes, we haven’t a clue where to start or what the genuine concern is. No worries, though. For it is ok to be in a mess. After all, life is a mess, too.

The classes we are teaching are messy by nature, and that’s good to know. So instead of focusing on what is not working in the classroom, we should focus on how we communicate and which messages we send. We should think bigger than teaching …

This post is based on the cultural talk delivered by Adrian Underhill on 10 July 2018 at Bell Teacher Campus.