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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Excellence in educational leadership : appreciative leadership within BC community colleges Weegar, Thomas


This study explores Appreciative Leadership as it is being practiced by college educational leaders in British Columbia. Appreciative Leadership in education is a unique, strength-based approach to leadership which focuses continually on capacity-building and seeing possibilities and opportunities. Appreciative Leadership in education is, I argue, an approach that could help address the leadership “skills shortages” and the challenges facing BC colleges in the twenty-first century. Conceptually, the research is informed by a social constructivist approach to educational leadership and how leadership is an area of practice distinct from management. The notion of Appreciative Leadership, a relatively new and emerging concept in relation to educational discourse, is carefully considered in relation to the larger conversation about educational leadership and conceptions of power. Appreciative Leadership, Appreciative Intelligence, and the Five Core Strategies of Appreciative Leadership are central elements of this study. This study involved three stages: 1) a pilot study of my survey instrument among three community college educational leaders; 2) a questionnaire sent to 25 BC community college leaders (Deans, Vice-Presidents – Education [or Academic], Associate Vice-Presidents, Education, and Presidents); and 3) follow-up interviews with a select number of survey respondents where further explorations about the practices of Appreciative Leadership and shared leadership were discussed. The study developed three empirical assertions about Appreciative Leadership in education based on an analysis of the data. First, Appreciative Leadership in education is a gendered practice that requires an exercise of power-with rather than power-over others. Second, Appreciative Leadership in education requires that leaders imagine and create opportunities and are adept at reframing issues in this way. Third, Appreciate Leadership in education requires a productive, creative engagement with conflict (as opposed to avoiding conflict entirely or trying to “placate” it through rationalistic conflict-resolution strategies). This research contributes to the emerging theory around Appreciative Leadership and specifically for educational contexts.

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