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Distinguishing Educational Leadership and Management

15 January, 2016 - 09:23
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The concept of management overlaps with two similar terms, leadership and administration. “Management” is widely used in Britain, Europe, and Africa, for example, while “administration” is preferred in the United States, Canada, and Australia. “Leadership” is of great contemporary interest in most countries in the developed World. Dimmock (1999) differentiates these concepts whilst also acknowledging that there are competing definitions:

    School leaders [experience] tensions between competing elements of leadership, management and administration. Irrespective of how these terms are defined, school leaders experience difficulty in deciding the balance between higher order tasks designed to improve staff, student and school performance (leadership), routine maintenance of present operations (management) and lower order duties (administration). (p. 442)

    Administration is not associated with “lower order duties” in the U.S. but may be seen as the overarching term, which embraces both leadership and management. Cuban (1988) provides one of the clearest distinctions between leadership and management.

    By leadership, I mean influencing others actions in achieving desirable ends . . . . Managing is maintaining efficiently and effectively current organisational arrangements . . . . I prize both managing and leading and attach no special value to either since different settings and times call for varied responses.

    Leadership and management need to be given equal prominence if schools are to operate effectively and achieve their objectives. “Leading and managing are distinct, but both are important . . . . The challenge of modern organisations requires the objective perspective of the manager as well as the “ashes of vision and commitment wise leadership provides” (Bolman & Deal, 1997, p. xiii-xiv).

    The English National College for School Leadership.

    The contemporary emphasis on leadership rather than management is illustrated starkly by the opening of the English National College for School Leadership (NCSL) in November 2000. NCSL’s stress on leadership has led to a neglect of management. Visionary and inspirational leadership are advocated but much less attention is given to the structures and processes required to implement these ideas successfully. A fuller discussion of the NCSL may be found in Bush (2006).