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Leading in Tough Times: keeping ethics at the heart of your practice – Mark Wright, Jackie Christie and Peter Rushton

February 2, 2017

littThis illustrates the importance of ethical leadership and is primarily aimed at those with leadership or management responsibilities in schools but is also relevant to those aspiring to senior roles.

It examines the many facets of ethical leadership, with an emphasis on both individual leaders and their organisations acting in a transparent and trustworthy way.

It includes case studies, scenarios, tasks and reflective considerations.

It is divided into two parts. Part A, ‘thinking’, explores the issues and challenges facing education leaders. Part B, ‘doing’, looks at how leaders can practise ethically when dealing with a wide range of stakeholders and multiple complex issues.


The deluge of policy change has left many leaders and managers under intense pressure. It is not surprising, therefore, that the quality of school leadership and college management is under the spotlight, as frontline staff complain of being manipulated and bullied in order to try and achieve ever increasing targets.

The accusation is that leaders and managers are interpreting ‘doing the right thing’ to mean doing the right things to meet exam targets and satisfy an overbearing inspection system, adopting an ends-justifies-the-means approach, in pursuit of results and at the expense of teacher well-being.

basic standards for anyone in a leadership or  management role.

  1. Selflessness – the need to act to serve others. Leaders should notact to personally profit or for other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
  1. Integrity – the need to avoid being placed under any financial or otherobligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek toinfluence them in the performance of their official duties.
  1. Objectivity – the need to be just when conducting business, includingawarding contracts, making appointments, or recommending others forrewards and benefits. Choices must be taken on merit alone.
  1. Accountability – leaders are responsible for the decisions they makeand actions they take and must submit to appropriate scrutiny.
  1. Openness – the need for leaders to be as open as possible about theirdecisions and actions, which should be backed up by a clear rationale.
  1. Honesty – a duty to declare any private interests relating to their dutiesand to take steps to resolve any conflict of interests.
  1. Leadership – the need to promote and support these ethical principlesby leadership and example

A servant leader must first learn and have experienced being a servant.

Again, this concept is more about “we” rather than “I”. Good servant leaders focus on well-being and the individual growth and development of their colleagues. They accept responsibility, give credit to others and create trust.

“Most experienced managers, when asked what the most important capability for leaders to develop is, answer that it is self-awareness. Yet many leaders in education today don’t have the time and space to develop self-knowledge and understanding. Self-awareness is a key component of authentic leadership.”

Not being afraid to admit mistakes – this sends out a positive message about integrity and valuing individuals especially when an explanation is given as to why the initial decision was made. Students will always remember the staff member who went out of their way to find them and admit why they were wrong and it is even more meaningful when it is a headteacher or senior leader.

Taking a real interest in the students along with their hobbies, and extra-curricular interests to develop a genuine relationship and earn trust.

Remembering students can spot a fraud – someone who doesn’t really care about them, likewise a teacher who does not practise what they preach.

It’s online here

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