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The Educational Practice of Ethical Leaders: A Case Study of Chilean School Leaders

It is widely acknowledged that ethical leadership is of great importance to schools. Behaving ethically is indeed an imperative for school leaders. Being an ethical educational leader is something different. It is not only about behaving according to standards but rather involves an ethical way of being that engages the leader holistically in their attempt to do the right thing for students. The purpose of this constructivist study was to explore the educational praxis of ethical school leaders in Chile. A multiple case study design was employed to gain insight into the feelings, beliefs and thoughts of ethical school leaders regarding their educational experiences. To this end, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight identified ethical school leaders. The data focused on the commonalities and uniqueness within and across participants. Six main themes about the nature of ethical leadership were identified. They included: holding personal and professional ethics as inseparable, ‘consistently’ inspiring practice, valuing others, sustaining a humane view of education, being sensitive to the complex local context, and leading as serving. These themes reflect the experience of being ethical as a school leader in Chile. It has been found that ethical leadership influences the relational context of leaders’ practice. Ethical leaders in education have been shown to influence educational contexts from a moral imperative that is grounded in a critical and humanistic concern that deeply affirms ‘others’ as a common good, rather than through any instrumental or technical change that they may initiate. The findings provide key elements of ethical leadership within the Chilean school context that can influence current and future school leaders’ practices and professional development. Moreover, becoming and being an ethical leader is indeed an experiential journey that integrates the leader’s personal and professional way of being. This research calls for priority to be given to the encouragement and development of ethical leadership.
Type of thesis
Cuellar, C. (2010). The Educational Practice of Ethical Leaders: A Case Study of Chilean School Leaders (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4977
University of Waikato
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