Exploring the Relationship between Learning and Leadership
The aim of the researchers in this article is to connect two lines of research namely learning and leadership. They attempt to relate the manner in which people learn to their leadership styles (Brown & Posner, 2001). According to Brown & Posner (2001), transformational learning is a cognitive process in which the learner reflects critically on his or her experiences in a supportive environment that encourage dialogue and relationship with the end product being personal development. Experience triggers reflective thinking that leads to transformation. Leadership skills are obtained from job experiences, professional contacts, and formal education. Learning from job assignments and others is of particular importance in the success of a leader. Learning, therefore, plays a foundational role in effective leadership (Brown & Posner, 2001). As a matter of fact, leadership can be termed as a complex and continuous learning process rather than an already learned skill. To thrive in the current business environment, leaders have to keep on learning and adjusting to the quick pace of change. Effective leaders view all their experiences as learning opportunities and experiences.
Transformational leadership is that which results in the achievement of significant change that reflects communal interests, aspirations, and the pursuit of a shared vision, by both leaders and followers. According to Brown & Posner (2001), transformative leaders create an environment of collective aspirations, common goals, and empowered purposes where all parties achieve justice, liberty, and self-actualization. Apparently, leadership and change go hand in hand. It is also evident that change is essential in the process of learning. The connection between the two disciplines cannot be denied. Today’s dynamic marketplace demands leaders who can thrive in change by learning from challenges and others as well as foster innovation and collaboration. Leaders must learn how to lead so as to achieve personal and organizational goals.
In their study, Brown and Posner (2001) found that managers differed in how they used learning strategies in the course of their duties or when they encountered new assignments. The researchers found a positive relationship between how individuals learn and their leadership skills. A significant correlation between blended learning (whereby experiences, critical thinking and having access to others are used in teaching) and transformational leadership (in which leaders challenge, inspire and encourage growth and change in their followers) was seen. The concepts used in transformational learning give insights in the active development of competent leaders (Brown & Posner, 2001). As such, professional and leadership development programs should be supported by transformative learning techniques that encourage approaches that are personal and practical. These kinds of approaches are self-driven, reflective as well as change-oriented. In the future, successful leaders will be those with the ability to develop a learning environment in their organizations. By so doing, they will prepare and strengthen their employees and organizations for future challenges, competition, and inevitable change.
Leadership and Teacher Learning: A Case Study
Law (2011), notes that the decentralization of decision-making in the education sector is becoming a trend in education policy-making. Curriculum development, in particular, has become more democratic in that; it involves the participation of professional teachers. The teacher has consequently been empowered from being the curriculum user to the developer (Law, 2011). As such the teacher has the responsibility of making decisions regarding what and how to teach as well as how to assess teaching and learning outcomes.
This new approach to educational leadership has found its way to East Asia. The adoption of these new trends in the East Asian education system has led to greater responsibility for curriculum leadership and development being placed on teachers. In his study, Law (2011) explores how curriculum leadership affects teacher interaction and teacher learning. He focuses on a curriculum development and leadership project in a school in Hong Kong. He observes and analyzes the curriculum development of two subjects, Mathematics, and Chinese languages. The project begins by the formation of a curriculum development team for an individual subject comprising of subject panel heads in the first cycle of the project. However, in the second cycle of the project, the team leaders were switched to other members. Participating subject teachers were encouraged to take up the leadership roles. This approach was aimed at improving interactions between members, as well as creating a conducive environment for curriculum development characterized by teamwork and professional engagement. The members were expected to plan, design and review a lesson which was then tried out and later reflected on by the members. In their reflection meeting, the members would critically examine the lesson experience and then come up with ways to change and improve the curriculum.
In the analysis of the project, Law (2011) notes that the rotating leadership of the team encouraged free discussion and negotiation between members as seen in a flat leadership structure. This leadership style encourages positive and legitimate participation by the teachers, whose goal is a decision based on improving the innovation lesson. This implies that the leadership style in the decentralized curriculum development strategy should be structured in such a way that it encourages collaborative interaction and reflection that results in effective curriculum change and professional development.
Brown, L. M., and Posner, B. Z. (2001). Exploring the relationship between learning and leadership. Leadership and organization development Journal, 22 (6), 274-280.
Law, E. H. (2011). Exploring the role of leadership in facilitating teacher learning in Hong Kong, School Leadership & Management: Formerly School Organization, 31(4), 393-410. Retrieved Feb 1, 2015. From https://www.ied.edu.hk/apclc/dowloadables/Publications/2011/Exploring%20the%20role%20of%20leadership%20in%20facilitating%20teacher%20learning%20in%20Hong%20Kong.pdf