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The inner life : a conversation with leaders in British Columbia post-secondary education McArthur-Blair, Joan

Abstract

in this inquiry, i undertook a journey, nineteen people travelled with me, we had a powerful conversation a conversation about the inner life of leaders... This inquiry is a conversation with formal leaders in post-secondary education, about the inner life of leadership. The journey and outcome of that conversation are presented as a narrative in several modes. I begin by locating this notion of the inner life and creating a container for the conversation. In exploring the literature, I offer glimpses and critical reflections into the inner life and leadership. Through telling the story of the study and the journey of the conversation, I offer insight into how I undertook this conversation with leaders and the rationale for the process of inquiry. The inquiry data are represented and interpreted through a constructed conversation play. The play is the core of this study, and its capacity to convey an understanding of the meaning and influence of the inner life is central to this undertaking. Nineteen leaders gave of their time to assist me and their words are the power and heart of this narrative inquiry. The inner life conversation circulates around three primary themes that arose from the research, inner life as social justice, inner life as sanctuary, and inner life as values or ethics. As three different characters in the play state: "I think for me the inner life has a social justice basis," "it is a set of fundamental values," "my inner life has to ground me." It is from these central notions that the narrative exploration of the inner life expands. There are several implications of this inquiry. These include processes for assisting new education leaders to consider the underlying tenets of their leadership; the creation of settings that encourage reflection on the inner life; and additional research on the inner life and how that inner life is at the core of leadership. Perhaps the most profound implication is that the inner life conversation is one that has energy and power to assist leaders in reflecting on who they are in the day to day of their leadership.

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