Leadership for learning: lessons from 40 years of empirical research

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

480 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper aims to present a researchbased model of leadership for learning. It argues that the field has made substantial progress over the past 40 years in identifying ways in which leadership contributes to learning and school improvement. Four specific dimensions of leading for learning are presented: values and beliefs, leadership focus, contexts for leadership, and sharing leadership. Design/methodology/approach – The paper employs a review methodology but focuses especially on evidence from several recent empirical studies. While the author argues that progress has been made, limitations – especially with respect to linking leadership practice to different contexts – are noted. Findings – The paper finds that significant progress has been made in identifying the means by which leadership impacts on learning. Research limitations/implications – The key limitation in this research lies in the difficulty in linking leadership to its context. While progress is also beginning to be made in this area, it remains a limiting factor in interpreting the findings from this body of research. Practical implications The above limitation means that individual school leaders must still apply the findings both with caution and with an understanding of their own particular school context. Originality/value – The paper extends prior reviews by its inclusion of findings from a series of important studies that have emerged since 2008.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Educational Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Change management
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Organizational change
  • Principals
  • Schools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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