Chapter 12: Ethics and leadership in education
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This chapter argues that ethics is integral to genuine educational leadership practice. Importantly, this outcome is now a universal expectation and not simply notional as has been the case for the past 40 years. However, knowing how and when to act ethically remains problematic, especially for educational leaders who regularly work in highly complex contexts fraught with ambiguous moral responsibilities. Thus, this chapter begins by first describing why ethical educational leadership is now considered critical followed by a brief explanation of what it means to be ethical and why its practice has become problematic. The chapter then progressively builds a new theoretical understanding of what constitutes genuine ethical educational leadership beginning with its genesis in Burns’ (1978) description of transformational leadership through to today’s contemporary understanding of leadership as a relational phenomenon. The essential claim is that if it is not ethical, it is not educational leadership.

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