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Leadership as Lunacy

Leadership as Lunacy
And Other Metaphors for Educational Leadership

August 2010 | 176 pages | Corwin

"This book will challenge, enlighten, and transform. The authors invite us to re-examine our core values as educational leaders, reconsider our priorities, and place the humanity of children at the center of our work."
—Nancy Skerritt, Assistant Superintendent,Tahoma School District, Maple Valley, WA

"By their analysis, Lumby and English expose the power of language to shape meaning. By their skill, they illustrate the power of language to engage and enrich. Their work is an important contribution to how we understand and practice leadership in all fields."
—Steven R. Thompson, Coordinator, School Leadership Program, Miami University

An imaginative approach to rethinking and revitalizing your leadership practice!

Research has shown that metaphors inspire leaders to reflect on their mind-sets, behaviors, practices, and approaches, leading to new perspectives on their roles. Using such thought-provoking and unexpected metaphors as "leadership as war" and "leadership as lunacy," the authors draw readers through historical perspectives and cognitive possibilities that inspire, resolve, confuse, and provoke reflection on the state of leadership in education. This book examines the current discourse on educational leadership models, behaviors, and roles, and helps school and district leaders:

  • Understand the power of metaphor and how metaphors have been used to define leadership
  • Develop a deeper connection to their roles and their approaches
  • Initiate change in themselves and in others

By inspiring creative thinking and critical reflection, Leadership as Lunacy helps leaders achieve personal and professional growth and invigorate their professional relationships!

About the Authors
1. The Presence and Power of Metaphors
Not Just Words

From Gilgamesh to Obama: Metaphors Communicate and Connect

How Metaphors Work

Why a Book About Metaphors for Educational Leaders?


Toward a New Kind of Wisdom

2. Leadership as Machine
Running the Factory

Leaders Running the Machine

Evaluating the Machine

On Being a Machine

The Machine Metaphor

3. Leadership as Accounting
The Relentless Pursuit of Rationality and Waste

Educational Hyperrationalization

The Cheating Culture: Corrosion of the Means/Ends Accountability Continuum

The Accounting Metaphor: A Chimera Wrapped Up as an Ideology

4. Leadership as War
Preparing for a Board Meeting

The Ambivalence of War Metaphors

Military Admonitions, Educational Situations, and Contradictions

The Way of the Warrior Is Death: Education Is Life

5. Leadership as Sport
Sports: Language and Action

The Little ?Closed-System? World of an Athletic Team

The Problem of the Charismatic Coach as a Model for the CEO

Understanding the Nature of Power

The Sports Metaphor: An Impossible Dream

6. Leadership as Theater
The School as Stage: What Lies Beneath?

The School as Staged: Long Run or Repertory?

The School as Staged: Acting Leadership

The School as Ritual Performance

School as Theater

7. Leadership as Religion
The Concept of the External Supreme Being

Towards Perfection: The Idea of Progress

Manifestations of Religion in Management and Educational Leadership

The Presence of ?Managementspeak? and Religious Rituals in School Practices

Warring Metaphors

The Power of Religious Metaphors: The Universal Versus The Dogmatic and Partisan Experience

Learning How to Lead Outside the Command and Control Model

8. Leadership as Lunacy
Lunacy as a Form of Toxicity

Leaders as Lunatics

The Lunatic Psyche

Symptoms, Signs and Pathologies

The Lunacy Metaphor

9. Metaphors of Leadership
The Uses of Metaphors

Grand Narratives

Positive Metaphors

So, Where to Now?


"Lumby and English have exposed the power of language to shape meaning, engage, and enrich. Their work is an important contribution to how we understand and practice leadership in all fields."

Steven R. Thompson, Coordinator, School Leadership Program
Miami University

"This book will challenge, enlighten and transform. Ultimately, the authors invite us to re-examine our core values and place the humanity of children at the center of our work."

Nancy Skerritt, Assistant Superintendent
Tahoma School District, WA

"Authors Jacky Lumby and Fenwick English look at educational leadership through the lens of language and how metaphors have sometimes limited and stymied the true meaning of education and what educational leaders can and should be working to achieve."

Lydia Cross, Director, Graduate Academic Services Center
Georgia Southern University
NACADA Journal
Key features
  • Various interpretations of metaphor and how metaphors have been used to define leadership
  • How metaphors can stimulate reflection and inspire self-growth
  • How metaphors and metaphorical thinking are embedded in recent policy and guidance documents and the implications for practice, for children and for communities
  • For instructors

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    ISBN: 9781452271736

    ISBN: 9781412974271

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