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“Get back in your box”: How an interpreted culture impacts leadership aspirations and behaviours. Dr Louise Hard Murray School of Education Charles Sturt.

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Presentation on theme: "“Get back in your box”: How an interpreted culture impacts leadership aspirations and behaviours. Dr Louise Hard Murray School of Education Charles Sturt."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Get back in your box”: How an interpreted culture impacts leadership aspirations and behaviours. Dr Louise Hard Murray School of Education Charles Sturt University Australia

2 Overview of presentation… Study: methodology, context and participants Symbolic Interactionism …who am I in the eyes of others? Interpreted professional identity and interpreted leadership capacity Implications for leadership in ECEC

3 Research project… Qualitative study 26 participants Australian birth to five context Symbolic interactionism Findings and implications

4 Interpretation of leadership influenced by social and cultural contexts…

5 Political, Social and Cultural contexts… Interpreted social and political contexts… - Inequitable remuneration - Social kudos Interpreted cultural contexts… - Notions of team based leadership - Cultural on “niceness” - Horizontal violence

6 Interpreted social and political contexts… Chantelle was keenly aware of the difficulties associated with undertaking a higher degree in terms of lack of support in both time and money. I feel like a nutter sometimes, you know, you think what are you doing that for you know and like other people in other fields just think you’re a mad women you know and my mother said to me one day, you know that you’re not going to get any more money and you don’t get paid enough.

7 Social and political contexts… I mean, I can give an example. My daughter, years ago, commented at fifteen that she went and looked after a child after school each night because his mother [was] a school teacher—an educated person and when they went away she looked after the dog each night and they paid her more to feed the dog. What is this telling us? …others asked if she was in fact studying “advanced nappy changing”. According to Jodie, this situation remains for students today and that “we seem to be at the bottom of the chain”. There is further evidence of this in Daryl's comments as an early childhood student, “I think that we need to be out in the community a lot more and more vocal about our qualifications and what we are actually doing with children and why”. This he considers necessary since “some people do consider it just baby-sitting” She states that “it is such a deserving industry that we are just crying out for more recognition”

8 Interpreted cultural contexts… …what I probably see as the biggest problem for good leadership or effective leadership is that people like if there's a director of a centre or they’re in a leadership role, they like to be seen as one of the team players or one of the gang and if there are any privileges or anything that stands them out separately they quickly adjust and pretend they are one of the workers again. “I don’t think that we are very good at putting ourselves forward and being competent. It’s almost like it’s a dirty word leadership. It is just something that people see as containing too much ego”. In early childhood I don’t think we think like that—not so much and I think that we don’t want to be seen as it, but we want to be seen as the coordinator of the team a little bit more than the powerful one that makes all the ultimate decisions. I think as a leader you have to be part of the team as well. Where you sort of put all of your skill base in a pot and depending on whichever situation, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the one person who leads constantly at the head of the ship or helm or whatever it might be. It’s a matter of the needs base. An academic recounts her engagement with a student to provide an example of a culture of conformity and the effect it has on constraining leadership aspirations and behaviour. This student is articulate and questioning and for the academic, demonstrates many of the attributes of a potential leader. However, “she doesn’t want to be the one that [sic] stands out, she doesn’t want to be that one that they point to and say she’s the leader. She doesn’t want to be that person; she wants to be part of the crowd, not even part of the team, part of the crowd”.

9 Cultural contexts… …“ladies looking after children who don’t blow their own trumpet. So if you say you’re a leader that might be misconstrued as you having said something good about yourself and I don’t think that we do that well”. “Something else we don’t do well is praise each other” One participant referred to state organisations where people do a lot of “watching the person next to you to make sure they’re not getting too up themselves you know”. Another participant working in a support organisation discusses workers in ECEC, suggesting, “if someone is getting a little too confident um there is this you get back in your box because that’s not you position, that’s not your role” facetiously adding “we can’t have that happening”.

10 Interpreted leadership capacity Dominance of others views constrains leadership aspirations… Leadership is not about the individual…but lack of clarity about value of team approach. Need to maintain field credibility makes positional leadership roles all encompassing. Limited mentoring and leadership models means limited images and structures to support leadership behaviour.

11 Implications for the ECEC field.. Balance between the I and the Me…to achieve increased leadership capacity. Need to activate models and mentoring for practitioners. Awareness of cultural behaviours and expectations to reduce the disempowering outcomes. Opportunity to articulate positive collaborative approach to other sectors.

12 If you would like further information… Please feel free to email me at: Phone: 0260519412 Or visit my web site for publications, link to online thesis and relevant references etc:

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