Becoming a leader: exploring the experiences of aspiring leaders in Scottish schools

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This study explored the experiences of aspiring school leaders in the Scottish context as they undertook a formal leadership qualification. Participants were Scottish school teaches working in both formal and informal leadership positions that were undertaking a part-time Masters programme of study. The exploration was undertaken in order to better understand how the participants' perceived themselves as leaders (their leadership identity) when interacting in their workplaces. How this identity was also developed and influenced over the period of their participation with the programme was considered. This led to a deeper understanding of their personal development as leaders and hence, how this might influence and inform leadership preparation.
A constructivist comparative case study which used aspects of a grounded theory approach was employed in order to explore the interaction of identity and identity formation with emotional competence (emotional intelligence). A theoretical framework that combined the Profile of Emotional Competence (PEC) (Brasseur et al., 2013) and the Personality and Social Structure Perspective (PSSP) model (Côté & Levine, 2002), provided the basis for the design of the data collection and subsequent analyses. Critical reflections on their work as leaders were collected from four part-time university students over a period of two years, who were continuing to work as teachers in Scottish schools.
Findings showed that there was indication of the interplay of emotional competence and identity formation. Students' sense of identity as a leader acted as an important point of reference for them and consisted of a belief in improving teaching and learning (and linked to this), a belief in improving student outcomes, a requirement for technical expertise, and a requirement to maintain a calm and purposeful demeanour. This aspect of the participants' identity appeared to be influenced by confirmation from more senior leaders of their actions, positive impact of their actions, improvement as a consequence of leadership actions, and wider reactions from colleagues during interactions.
Conclusions were used to construct a series of recommendations, offered to those involved in the education, support and policy making that influences the development of teachers as leaders. In terms of supporting developing leaders this should be a career long endeavour that celebrates diversity, strengthens emotional competencies, allows leaders to consider their own values and gives time to acquiring technical knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2022
EventStrathclyde Doctoral School Multidisciplinary Symposium 2022 - Learning and Teaching Building - University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jun 202210 Jun 2022


ConferenceStrathclyde Doctoral School Multidisciplinary Symposium 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • leadership
  • education
  • identity
  • emotion
  • leadership preparation


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