Developing Leaders

Rapid change in organizations during this era of globalization has put a premium on leadership at all levels of organizations in every sector. As the paradigm for leadership has changed from the single heroic leader to empowered leaders throughout the organization, there has been more interest in how we develop leadership.  See resources on this website describing problem-based leadership development.

Problem-based Leadership Development

Over sixty years ago, Charles Gragg, one of the originators of case teaching at the Harvard Business School, stated: “Education in the professions should prepare students for action.”[As teachers of management, my colleague, Ed Bridges and I have long shared Gragg’s value concerning the importance of this purpose of education. Indeed, our initial interest in problem-based learning during the 1980s resulted from our own search for approaches to teaching and learning that met this criterion for education in the professions. Our subsequent experience using PBL in management education programs in North America, Australia and Asia reinforces our belief in its efficacy as an approach that prepares ‘managers for action.’

Although we believe that PBL represents a potentially powerful approach to preparing ‘managers for action,’ at no point do we advocate for others to employ PBL as the only method of teaching and learning for use in all schools, by all instructors, and for all subject matter. PBL is one of a number of approaches that, used skillfully, enables us to meet the ambitious goal of preparing ‘managers for action.’

Strengths of problem-based leadership development include the following:

  • Problem-solving skills and attitudes: Confidence to take on problems as opportunities, as well as the ability to think systematically, analytically, critically, and creatively.
  • Global perspective: A broad perspective based on an understanding of issues and opportunities in both the local and global environments.
  • Leadership competencies: The ability to work collaboratively in creating a vision for the organization, developing a socially responsible strategy for implementation, and motivating others to join in working towards its achievement.
  • Management competencies: Ability to use skills in managing projects, resources and business processes to achieve results efficiently.
  • Ethical judgment and decision-making: Awareness of the ethical impact of decisions and the importance of values in managing people and organizations in a diverse, global society.
  • Adaptability, self-reflection, and personal development: Understanding ones’ own value orientation, developing a capacity for reflection, and cultivating skills and attitudes that support lifelong learning.
  • Communication: Ability to communicate effectively, orally and in writing, in working with culturally diverse audiences.
  • Functional knowledge: A comprehensive knowledge of the functional areas of management including the ability to employ relevant social science theories and craft knowledge in managing organizations.
  • Managing information and technologies: Knowledge of and ability to plan for and use information technologies as tools for productive management of organizations.

Educational Leadership

Research conducted over the past 25 years in schools throughout the world confirms what practitioners and parents have always known. Leadership does make a difference in the capacity of schools to improve. The progress made by researchers during the past several decades has focused on identifying the ways in which leaders “make a difference.” Below are resources — some developed by me and some by others — that elaborate on how and why leadership makes a difference in schools.

Instructional Leadership

Research conducted on change in schools by Gene Hall and others in the 1970’s identified principal leadership as essential to supporting successful efforts by schools to implement change. Findings from this research were further reinforced by findings from researchers such as Edmonds, Brookover, Rutter and others who sought to identify the characteristics of “instructionally effective schools” — schools whose students achieved beyond what might be expected given their socio-economic backgrounds.

A key finding emerging from this research was the conclusion that instructionally effective schools had principals who gave more attention to the leading the curriculum and instructional program of the school. This picture of engaged instructional leaders contrasted with the portrait of typical principals whose workdays were characterized by a focus on “managerial” activities. This led to an increased emphasis during the USA during the 1980s on increasing the priority given to instructional leadership among principals. During the subsequent years, researchers, policymakers and practitioners have made progress in defining the instructional leadership role of principals and other school leaders, identifying key strategies, approaches and behaviors, and putting these into practice.

Philip Hallinger has been among the scholars and practitioners who has contributed to the development of this field since the early 1980s. He developed the first research-based instrument for assessing principal instructional leadership, the Principal Instructional Management Rating Scale (PIMRS; see below) 1982. He has also conducted empirical studies of instructional leadership and with co-author Ronald Heck produced a series of influential review of research on principal leadership and its effects on student learning.

Educational Change in Asia

Philip Hallinger has lived in Thailand for much of the past 18 years. During this time he has conducted research, taught courses, worked as Dean of a Business School, conducted training for corporations and schools, and consulted to education ministries and schools throughout East Asia. Among his activities, Professor Hallinger has:

  • Served as an advisor and key trainer for the Ministry of Education in Thailand, conducting training for more than 7,000 school leaders at all levels.
  • Conducted a multi-day training program for experienced school principals in Singapore for three years.
  • Served as the sole induction trainer for all new principals in Hong Kong for three years for a total of 1/4 of Hong Kong’s 1,250 principals.
  • Done extensive training for new and serving principals in Malaysia since 1991.

In addition to his extensive work in training school leaders, Professor Hallinger was, along with Professor Cheng Kai Ming and Dr. Ibrahim Bajunid, one of the first scholars in the field to highlight the importance of social culture on school leadership and organizational change. This portion of the website contains papers, presentations and workshop materials relevant to culture, leadership, and educational change and reform in East Asia.

Educational Reform in Asia

The period since 1990 has witnessed dramatic changes in the education systems of countries throughout East Asia. Despite the often acknowledged role played by education in the success of Asia’s tiger economies, the same East Asian nations have been even more active than counterparts in North America and Europe in developing new policies and implementing new practices to upgrade educational access and quality. For example, in 1990, compulsory education in Thailand was mandatory through 6 years of schooling. During the intervening years, this was raised to 9 years, then 12 years and in 2008 to 12 years with special financial support for those who could not afford to forego working to attend school. This story is typical of the region.

Yet, just as in the Western nations, there is a gap — some might call it a chasm — between the intentions of new education policies and actual practice in classrooms. The papers and presentations listed below for download provide details on the process and outcomes of attempts to implement educational reforms and changes in the region.