Perceptions of leadership in New Zealand early childhood services



Educational Leadership, Leadership practice, teaching leadership


This paper reports on a recent doctoral study that investigated how educational leadership is practised through internal evaluation processes in New Zealand ECE services.

The findings unveiled a complexity in the ways in which ECE teachers identified with leadership which in turn, challenged teachers to practise educational leadership. Teachers’ understandings of leadership were framed by their personal and professional experiences, and they agreed that leadership needed to be relationship based, strength based, distributed, and linked to vision and values. Teachers’ feedback highlighted how there was a tension in the ways in which they conceptualised their own leadership; while they acknowledged that leadership was an expectation of everyone, they also believed that leadership would only be shown by those with a formal position and title. Teachers were often unaware of their own leadership practices, viewing their everyday practices as teaching responsibilities, that did not relate to leadership. The introduction and unpacking of an educational leadership definition provided a useful tool for teachers to further develop their self-identity as leaders and build an awareness of their existing leadership practices.