Chapter 2: Literature Review: Educational leadership


In this chapter the literature for the research on the role of school leadership in the process of formation of future leaders is reviewed. The chapter consists of four main parts, two of which have subcategories. It starts from the overview, the purpose of the review, and is followed by theoretical background of the research and the literature review itself. Functional, comparative and categorization strategies are used to research the problem. The information is taken from scholarly sources, which are the articles and the books of the contemporary leaders and educators who work in this sphere.

Purpose of the review

The current review has several purposes. First, it demonstrates the importance of the discussed issue in the modern discourse. Second, it gives credits to the authors who have researched this issue previously. Third, it helps to summarize the important findings on this subject and create a more vivid understanding of the issue.

Theoretical Background


The current research investigates into the problem of leadership. The contemporary world is constantly changing and the existing ways of working in this sphere do not meet the requirements of the reality (Campbell, 2013, pp. 15-16). Various scholars emphasize this issue and assume that there is an urgent need in changing the methods of teaching the future leaders. It is possible to claim that school education is the optimal means of formation of the new leadership elite, because it gives a possibility to choose the most talented students in this sphere and start working with them when they are still open for the new approaches (Gill, 2011, pp. 62-63).


The current study is qualitative and features information from 4 scholarly sources directly. Indirectly the quantitative data that is taken from the mentioned sources is used. Thus, Gill (2011, pp. 4-5) writes his research on the basis of 367 interviews of managers from 38 organizations who work in the manufacturing industry. Campbell (2013, pp. 32-35) investigates into the leadership problems on various level of society including the religious sphere, the community level, the sector of business and commerce, and the governmental level.


In this research several methods are used. The first method that is applied is the functional one. This approach describes the results of the research so that they can be compared afterwards.

The main method is the comparative one. Though, it is possible to say that every investigation is comparative in its nature. Qualitative data analysis approach is used to describe differences and similarities of the viewpoints of different scholars and researchers on the problem of leadership and its importance on the stage of education. Qualitative analysis of the information is an indispensable part of searching for information for thematic descriptions and overview.

The collected data is also fractured and contextualized to increase understanding and allow to make conclusions. Categorical strategies are used to divide the collected information about the educational leadership into subcategories. A framework for analysis proposed by English (2011, pp. 158-160) is used to compare the leadership issue by using inductive approach. The researcher emphasizes that it is crucial to understand the problem of leadership in general and have a serious theoretical background in order to be able to work with individuals on forming an efficient leader.

Results and Conclusions

The research gives a possibility to categorize the existing trends in leadership. It is possible to assume that there is no specific plan about the ways to educate future leaders despite all existing theoretical recommendations and practical examples of the effective leadership. The literature review shows the gap in the knowledge about this subject, which might become an urgent theme for further research.

Literature Review

As it was mentioned earlier, the work faces the problem of effective leadership. Certain scholars think that this problem might be eliminated if the leaders will be prepared from school years, because they might perceive the new order of the new world better than adults. The current review aims at investigating into the ideas that different researchers have concerning theory and practice of leadership. This information provides an opportunity for further research in this subject.

The articles can be categorized according to the research paradigm. English (2011) and Gill (2011) pay equal attention to the theoretical and practical issues of leadership. These authors claim that the knowledge of the historical development of leadership might be useful in understanding of the mechanisms that make leadership effective in certain circumstances. Campbell (2013) and Cordeiro and Cunningham (2012) concentrate on the empirical data about leadership. They claim that leadership needs to be in pace with the progress, and so the practical examples from multiple perspectives are more important in the formation of an effective leader than historical flashbacks and theoretical background.

Campbell (2013) provides a detailed analysis of the current situation in global business and the challenges the leaders face. Terrorist menace, political instability, economical difficulties are among the issues that determine contemporary business environment, to which a leader needs to adapt (Campbell, 2013, pp. 34-35). The author constructs a theoretical framework, that allows to improve the weak points of leaders in the process of their formation. Campbell introduces the notion of the global leader (Campbell, 2013, p. 50). He investigates into the influence of culture and ideology on leaders, compares the experiences of different countries in this sphere and emphasizes the importance of cooperation regardless cultural background, because political freedom, economic stability and human rights are universal. The researcher supposes that it can be achieved after decreasing of cultural tension between partners (Campbell, 2013, pp. 63-65).

English (2011) provides an overview of theoretical and practical information about educational leadership. Among the most important issues that are discussed in his book are the standards for the leaders’ education, the paradoxes of the current educational system, the ways to adapt to changing environment and solve conflicts (English, 2011, p. 37). He also investigates into the historical development of leadership and claims that the descriptions of the previous strong and weak sides of this subject might be helpful for future leaders who want to understand the mechanisms of leadership (English, 2011, pp. 62-64). However, English is skeptical concerning the diachronic approach he proposes. The researcher understands that the reality has changed significantly due to the rise of technology and the overall globalization, that is why he suggests the readers to analyze the past experience with caution (English, 2011, pp. 71-73).

Cordeiro and Cunningham (2012) present guidelines concerning effective leadership that work in the revolutionary, challenging and constantly changing environment. The researchers provide the readers with the theoretical and practical information about the administration process in different situations (Cordeiro and Cunningham, 2012, pp. 29-31). The presence of numerous perspectives is an advantage of the book. The structure of the research is logical. It consists of three parts. The first part contains the descriptions of the common practices and standards in the educational administration field. It also features the guidelines concerning evaluation of the leadership performance and further creation of the personal leadership style, which is important in the learning process. The second part investigates into the role of the leader in the system of education. The authors write about the student-teacher and student-student relations. The third part of the book researches the main function of the leader in the educational institution, among which are stewardship responsibilities, financial and legal ones (Cordeiro and Cunningham, 2012, pp. 89-92).

Gill (2011) provides a practical research concerning the effectiveness of different types of leadership. The empirical data is supported by the theoretical background. The author aims at proving the major theoretical issues by practical examples, which makes the research the vivid illustration of the situation concerning leadership. He determines three types of leadership styles: laisser-faire, transactional, and transformational, that can be applied to hierarchical levels in organizations (Gill, 2011, p. 16). Gill tries to create a universal framework that might allow to perform effective leadership across all possible levels of the company’s hierarchy. He states that every level has its own peculiarities, and for this reason an effective leader should take the differences into consideration. The researcher claims that transformational leadership, which is the one that adopts to every level of hierarchy, is the optimal one. Both practical and theoretical information of the current work supports the idea that an ability to change according to circumstances is the key characteristic of effective leadership (Gill, 2011, p. 38-40).

All researchers have similar position concerning the importance of the ability of an effective leader to adapt to time and situation. They propose various guidelines concerning the ways to adapt to constant changes, that differ regarding they viewpoint. Gill (2011) analyzes leadership from the perspective of coping with different hierarchical levels. Cordeiro and Cunningham (2012) differentiate leadership styles by main functions. English (2011) concentrates on the historical examples and Campbell (2013) writes about the importance of understanding cultural differences in communication.

The literature review shows that there is a gap in the knowledge in this theme. The researchers do not pay much attention to the process of formation of leaders, preferring to concentrate on theory of leadership and practical examples. Though, it is not enough for a complete education of leaders, that is supposed to start at school. A possibility to create a structured educational plan that might be useful in the formation of leaders among students is an urgent subject for further investigation.



Campbell, A. (2013). In-depth analysis of global leadership challenges. Journal of Business and Ethics, 5, p. 69, pp. 1-52.


Cordeiro, P.A., Cunningham, W.G. (2012). Educational leadership: a bridge to improved practice. Allyn & Bacon.


English, F. W. (2011). The SAGE handbook of educational leadership: advances in theory, research, and practice. SAGE Publications.


Gill, R. (2011). Theory and practice of leadership. SAGE Publications.

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