The difference between
educational management and
educational leadership and the
importance of educational
Michael Connolly, Chris James and Michael Fertig
Educational management and educational leadership are central concepts in understanding orga-
nising in educational institutions but their meaning, the difference between them and their value in
educational organising remain the subject of debate. In this article, we analyse and contrast the two
concepts. We conclude that educational management entails carrying the responsibility for the
proper functioning of a system in an educational institution in which others participate. Carrying a
responsibility of this kind is a state of mind and does not necessitate actions, though it typically and
frequently does. In contrast, educational leadership is the act of influencing others in educational
settings to achieve goals and necessitates actions of some kind. When those carrying a delegated
responsibility act in relation to that responsibility, they influence and are therefore leading.
Although educational leadership is ideally undertaken responsibly, in practice it does not neces-
sarily entail carrying the responsibility for the functioning of the educational system in which the
influence is exercised. Through our analysis, the notion of responsibility, which is underplayed in
considerations of organising in educational institutions, comes to the fore. Educational responsi-
bility is an important notion and it should play a more prominent role in analyses of organising in
Educational leadership, educational management, educational administration, educational
Educational management and educational leadership are foundational concepts in the organisation
of educational institutions but a lack of clarity has emerged over time in the way they are described
Chris James, Department of Education, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK.
Administration & Leadership
ªThe Author(s) 2017
Reprints and permission:
and used by practitioners and academics. Both concepts are subject to continuing discussion, which
is made more complex by their practical and theoretical importance (Heck and Hallinger, 2005).
In these debates, recent narratives on educational leadership have been favoured (Bush, 2008)
and the notion of educational management has become neglected, downplayed – see Lumby,
(2017) for a review – and in some instances attacked (Fitzgerald, 2009). Perhaps the favouring of
educational leadership and the disregard of educational management in descriptions of organis-
ing practices in educational institutions is the way matters will develop. However, those trends
and the lack of clarity around the concepts does not help research or theory development in the
field. Further, the ‘fall’ of educational management underplays its importance in organising in
schools and colleges.
In this article, we analyse and contrast the notions of educational management and educational
leadership. As Barker (2001: 470) asserts, just as there is a need to distinguish between classical
music from other musical forms, there is a ‘need to distinguish leadership from other forms of
social organisation, such as management’. However, our analysis shows that educational manage-
ment and educational leadership are not simply different configurations of a broadly similar
general form of activity, they are categorically different.
Educational management in practice entails delegation, which involves being assigned,
accepting and carrying the responsibility for the proper functioning of a system in which others
participate in an educational institution, and implies an organisational hierarchy. ‘Carrying the
responsibility’ is a metaphorical description of a state of mind and does not necessarily entail
actions, though it implies them and frequently prompts them. Such actions are important in the
organisational life of educational institutions. Educational leadership in practice is the act of
influencing others in educational settings to achieve goals and thus necessitates actions. Influen-
cing others requires authority which may be derived from hierarchical relationships but may also
come from other sources. When those carrying the responsibility for the functioning of an
educational system act, those actions will influence others and they are therefore leadership
actions. Although educational leadership is ideally undertaken responsibly, in practice it does
not entail carrying the responsibility for the functioning of an educational system in which the
influence is exercised. Educational management and educational leadership are thus concep-
tually different. Through our analysis, the notion of responsibility, which is underplayed in
considerations of the organisation of educational institutions, comes to the fore. Given its
importance, ‘educational responsibility’ should feature more prominently in analyses of
In the article, we first explore educational management, and explain where the notion of
‘educational administration’ fits into our deliberations. We then analyse educational lead-
ership and related concepts, focussing in particular on leadership theories, models and
styles. In the subsequent section, we consider the notion of educational responsibility and
in the final section, we summarise the points we have made and reflect on the issues we
Throughout the article, we use the term ‘educational’ in the way it is typically used, that is, to
make clear the institutional context for management and leadership. That context could be a
school, a college, a university or a virtual learning programme of some kind. It is a place, in the
widest sense, that is legitimate as an educational institution (Bunnell et al., 2016, 2017). Further, in
line with the use of the terms educational management and educational leadership generally, our
interest is in the organisation of the teaching and ancillary staff systems (Hawkins and James,
2017) in educational institutions.
2Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
The notion of educational management
In this section, we explore the notion of educational management. We identify the essence of
management, clarify its relationship with administration, and consider educational management in
practice and the negative view of it.
The essence of management
Management and bureaucracy. The term ‘management’ is often used in relation to an organisational
hierarchy, with those occupying higher (management) positions in the hierarchy having more
power and responsibility than those lower down the (management) hierarchy. This view of man-
agement has its roots in Weberian bureaucracy (Bendix, 1977), and Lumby (2017) has recently
drawn attention to these origins in this journal. From a Weberian bureaucratic perspective, those in
lowly positions in the management hierarchy are monitored and controlled by those with higher
standing, in the interests of organisational efficiency. When viewed from that standpoint it is easy
to see why educational management may be viewed negatively. It has connotations of control and
the dominance of those deemed to be of lower standing in the hierarchy with a focus on efficiency
at the expense of institutional aims and purposes. Thus, when staff systems in schools are viewed
this way, teachers would be controlled and dominated by those at higher levels, such as the
headteacher/principal who is deemed to have status and privilege. Regardless of the validity of
such a perspective, our interest here is not in understanding management on the basis of how those
in a management hierarchy behave in relation to their colleagues but in understanding the essence
of management. To do that we start with the idea of delegation, a central concept in notions of
management, which we consider is key to understanding the real meaning of management.
Management and delegation. Definitions of delegation typically encompass assigning the responsi-
bility for the functioning of a system of some kind to another person, which is accepted by the other
person, see for example, Mullins with Christie (2016). Importantly, such a system entails the
participation, contribution and involvement of other individuals. In the staff system in a school,
these individuals would be members of the teaching staff and ancillary staff (Hawkins and James,
2017). Educational institutions are no exception to the idea of delegation; it enables them to
function properly. Thus, using a secondary school in England as an example, the school governing
board delegates the responsibility for the day-to-day functioning of the school to the headteacher/
principal (HT/P). Aspects of that responsibility are then delegated to others, such as the respon-
sibility for the school’s curriculum provision to the deputy HT/P, and the responsibility for the
school’s finance and premises systems to the school business manager. Parts of the functioning of
those systems, such as the provision of the science curriculum or school finances, will be further
delegated to various heads of ‘department’ of a range of kinds. For example, responsibility for the
functioning of a teaching subject department comprising a group of teachers is delegated to a head
of department. Responsibility for the school’s finance system, which may include other finance
staff but will also involve others in the school when they engage in financial matters, would be
delegated to the school’s finance manager by the school’s business manager. All these different
levels of responsibility are connected to educational systems of some kind, all of which involve the
participation of others: the whole-school system; the curriculum provision system; subject teaching
systems; and resource provision systems.
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 3
By beginning with the central concept of delegation, carrying the responsibility for the proper
functioning of an educational system in which others participate in an educational institution
emerges as the fundamental essence of educational management.
Educational management in practice: carrying the responsibility for the functioning of an
educational system of some kind
What being assigned and carrying the responsibility for the functioning of a system entails in
practice is relatively under-explored in educational organisation theory. The focus tends to be on
accountability and individuals being called to account for the functioning of the system for
which they are responsible (Ball, 2008; Moeller, 2008). The relationship between the two
notions in practice is complicated as Moeller (2008) points out. Being called to account in this
way can only occur once the responsibility has been assigned and accepted. Thus carrying the
responsibility is pre-eminent in relation to accountability in identifying the essence of educa-
Lauermann and Karabenick (2011: 127), in a review of teacher responsibility, view responsi-
bility as ‘A sense of internal [our emphasis] obligation and commitment to produce or prevent
designated outcomes, or that these outcomes should have been produced or prevented’. Thus
responsibility is a state of mind. The sense of duty and dedication is typically experienced as a
burden and a weight to be carried. Headteachers have depicted their experience of the responsi-
bility they carry as having ‘invisible rucksacks on their backs’ (James and Vince, 2001: 312) into
which others continually ‘throw rocks’, that is, add new, additional responsibilities. The state of
mind portrayed by these metaphors has cognitive aspects – one knows one is responsible for the
functioning of a system – and affective aspects, which are probably more important; hence
the sense of the burden being carried. This affective burden results from being accountable –
the expectation of being required to account to oneself and others for the functioning of the system
for which one is responsible (Lenk, 1992). Accountability can have a complex relationship with
responsibility in educational settings (Lauermann and Karabenick, 2011) but it is nonetheless
Various actions may be associated with carrying the responsibility for the functioning of a
system in which others participate, as the person doing so engages in ensuring the system is
functioning as it should. These actions are viewed as the practice of management. Thus standard
texts, such as Mullins with Christie (2016), view management as co-ordinating, directing and
guiding others to achieve organisational goals. Here a confusion with leadership begins to arise.
These so-called ‘management’ activities inevitably influence others, and are thus leadership
actions according to widely accepted definitions of leadership (Bush, 2008; Cuban, 1988; Yukl,
2002), which we discuss further below. Interestingly, even the act of assigning the responsibility
for the functioning of a system to another person, which is central to our sense of understanding the
essence of management, is an influencing act and therefore a leadership act. It is easy to see how
educational leadership and educational management can become confused and/or conflated as one
notion or used synonymously.
Management and administration
Although authors seek to distinguish between administration and management – for example,
Hughes (2012) – essential differences are difficult to sustain. Typically, the distinction relates
4Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
to the nature of the responsibility held, with positions in the upper levels of an organisational
hierarchy viewed as management positions, with administration positions featuring lower down.
Administration is typically viewed in that way in educational contexts, with, for example, Dim-
mock (1999: 450) viewing it as concerned with ‘lower order duties’. Nonetheless not completing
certain forms, for example expenses forms, pupil numbers returns and so forth, can have crucial
implications. Our interest here is not with the relative status of management and administration.
Both entail carrying the responsibility for the functioning of a system. The UK-based Institute of
Administrative Management (IAM, 2016: 1) defines administration as ‘the management [our
emphasis] of an office, business, or organisation’. We thus view the notions as synonymous in
The negative view of educational management
The negative view of educational management would appear to arise from a confusion
between leadership and management in practice. When those carrying the responsibility for
the functioning of a system interact with others on the basis of that responsibility, they are
influencing and are therefore leading. Thus, if the (influencing) practice of those carrying the
responsibility for a system is deemed uncreative; bureaucratic, which is viewed negatively
(Lumby, 2017); concerned with mundane activities (Cuban, 1988); and entailing monitoring
and controlling people, it is a criticism of their leadership practice, not their carrying of their
management responsibility. To criticise the notion of management on the basis of the influen-
cing activities managers may or may not engage in is inappropriate. In defence of manage-
ment in educational settings, carrying the responsibility for the functioning of a system in
which others participate in an educational institution is important and can be very challenging.
Those doing so may carry a heavy burden and may not be given sufficient credit for it (James
and Vince, 2001).
The notion of management is also often associated with organisational structures that are rigid
and inflexible and therefore having no place in the complex and dynamic world of an educational
institution (Lumby, 2017). The problem here is the confusion between using management hier-
archies in a normative way – that is the way schools should be organised – as opposed to an
analytic way, it is a way of understanding organisational relations. Even so, there is a strong
argument that a structure with specified and designated responsibilities may both provide a secure
‘containing structure’ for fully authorised actions (Dale and James, 2015) and may help to prevent
the abuse of power in educational institutions (Lumby, 2017).
Educational management is often considered to be concerned with organising the status quo in
educational institutions, a perspective on management which has a long history (Barnard, 1938;
Bennis and Nanus, 1985; Kanter, 1983; Peters and Waterman, 1982). This perspective has negative
connotations. Educational leadership, on the other hand, is about organising change for improve-
ment (Bush, 2008; Cuban, 1988; Hallinger, 2003) which is viewed positively. Such an assertion is,
however, highly problematic in educational institutions, especially in relation to the status quo.
They are continually changing organisations characterised by high levels of interaction and there-
fore in a continual state of flux and change (Hawkins and James, 2017). Further, an individual may
carry the responsibility for the functioning of a programme that radically changes practice in a
school. The change programme is a system in which others participate and the individual would
carry the responsibility for its proper functioning.
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 5
The notion of educational leadership
Having looked at educational management in the previous section, in this section, we examine the
notion of educational leadership, discussing: the ways the term ‘leadership’ is used as a position
and as a practice; educational leadership as influencing in educational settings; and the different
forms of leadership theory. Again, responsibility comes to the fore but in a different guise.
The use of the term ‘educational leadership’
The term ‘educational leadership’ is mainly used in two ways. First, it is used to describe those who
have senior positions in an organisational hierarchy in an educational institution. This usage has
become ubiquitous. In England, for example, the position of school headteacher/principal is now a
‘school leadership position’ with the individual holding that position often now often referred to as
the ‘school leader’. The Association for School and College Leaders (our emphasis) in the UK has
18,500 members ‘from primary, secondary and post-16 education ...including executive heads,
principals, deputies, assistant heads and business managers’ (ASCL, 2017: 2). How this use of the
term ‘leadership’ came to dominate is open to debate. The National College for School Leadership
(our emphasis) in England almost certainly played a key role (Bush, 2008) as did the school
improvement movement, see, for example, Hopkins et al. (1994). It was asserted that for schools
to improve, they need to change and bringing about change is a leadership act/practice (Bush,
2008; Cuban, 1988; Dimmock, 1999; Hallinger, 2003).
Second, the term ‘leadership’ is used to describe the practice of leading (Raelin, 2016) and is the
sense we are most interested in here. This perspective is central to Cuban’s (1988) definition of
educational leadership – influence for the achievement of desired goals. Such a view places a
premium on interactions of some kind that in some motivate others. These interactions will be
conditioned by images and instruments which are then put into action (Hawkins and James, 2016;
Educational leadership as influencing in educational settings
A number of issues arise from the idea that leadership is a process of influencing others (Cuban,
1988; Mullins with Christie, 2016; Yukl, 2002). First, the process of influencing others may be
undertaken by any member of the different systems that comprise a whole educational institution
(Hawkins and James, 2017). The capacity to influence others is not restricted to those who have
‘leader’/’leadership’ in their job title. As advocates of distributed leadership argue, for example
Harris (2005, 2013), educational leadership is not the sole province of the head of the school/
college. Any member of staff, the system we are interested in here, may influence others. Further,
to seek to understand the nature of educational leadership on the basis of what those in leadership
positions do unduly restricts understandings of the complexity of interactions and influence in
educational institutions. Second, influencing and leading as practices in educational settings by
definition change those being influenced/led (Fertig and James, 2016). However, the act of influ-
ence and leadership is interactional (Hawkins and James, 2017), thus leading/influencing others
also changes the leader/influencer in some way, an aspect of leadership which is under-explored.
Third, interactions and influence in schools can happen in a range of ways, not just by what is
spoken (Hawkins and James, 2017). Influence can be achieved: with a look; simply by being
present; and/or with an action of some kind and with a range of instruments. It may be explicit,
6Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
indirect, or not experienced immediately or consciously. Fourth, influence in educational institu-
tional contexts may be collective, that is, a group influencing an individual in some way (Rost,
1993). An example of this group influence unconsciously experienced would be scapegoating
(Dunning et al., 2005). Fifth, understandably, because of the importance accorded to leadership
and the capacity to influence others, there is a range of theories and models that describe educa-
tional leadership, and we turn our attention to these next.
Educational leadership theories and models
Theories and models of leadership in organisations generally are numerous and diverse. Ladkin
(2010: 15) identifies a wide range and then declares ‘the list goes on and on’. In addition to the
many leadership models/theories, there are also leadership styles (Goldman, 1998), which Leith-
wood et al. (1999) have categorised as contingent, participative, managerial, moral, transforma-
tional and instructional in educational settings. Hallinger (2003) argues for a categorisation based
on the characteristics: top-down versus bottom-up; first order and second order target for change;
and managerial/transactional versus transformational. Jackson and Perry (2008) succinctly offer a
range of perspectives, distinguishing between leader-centred and follower-centred views. Grint
(2005) proposes a ‘theories model’ but also argues that the quest for consensus on leadership
models, perspectives and theories is ‘both forlorn and unnecessary’ (p.1). Generally, studies of
leadership assert its importance, although some writers, for example Raelin (2016), question the
very notion of leadership, but that remains a minority view and not one we are advocating here.
Studies of the concept of leadership have occurred with increasing regularity in the public sector
literature generally – see Chapman et al. (2016) for a review. These studies and others utilise a
range of social science methodologies, but we note the (usually normative) studies employing
works derived from humanities, for example, the plethora of books drawing on Machiavelli’s
Prince and the sophisticated text by March and Weil (2005). The education field’s most significant
contribution to this wider literature has perhaps been through distributed leadership (Bolden,
Leadership theories, models and styles that have been applied in educational contexts are
extensive, wide-ranging and varied (Bush and Glover, 2014; Leithwood et al., 1999) and categor-
ising them is a challenging endeavour. Educational leadership as the practice of influencing others
to achieve goals in an educational context can be viewed as a system, which has a purpose/
rationale, requires inputs/resources, has processes, achieves outcomes and takes place in an envi-
ronment/context. This model underpins our categorisation in the following sub-sections. The
purpose of undertaking this categorisation is to contrast these different aspects of leadership as
influence to achieve goals with management as being assigned and carrying the responsibility for
the functioning of a system in which others participate. Also, in the categorisation, the importance
of leading/influencing responsibly comes to the fore.
Leadership theories and the purpose of the influence. Educational leadership theories in this category
specify an objective, a purpose and reason, for the leadership/influence being exercised. They
include learning-centred leadership (Hallinger, 2009; Southworth, 2003), where the objective is to
improve student learning, and instructional leadership (Blase and Blase, 2004; Hallinger 2003;
Kaparou and Bush, 2015; Southworth, 2002) where the objective of influencing activities is to
enable teachers to bring about student learning.
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 7
The objective of any leadership action in an educational setting is important and the quality of
any such action cannot be fully evaluated unless the objective of the action is known and is
included in the evaluation. Thus, for example, an experienced science teacher in a secondary
school in England could tell a more junior science teacher colleague: ‘It doesn’t matter if you
don’t cover the whole examination syllabus’, who then decides not teach the full syllabus. That
would be very effective leadership by the experienced teacher on the basis of the influence
achieved but not on the basis of its objective. We expect teachers in the teaching staff system to
influence others responsibly in order to achieve appropriate objectives. Whether or not that is the
case, those leading/influencing may not carry the responsibility for the functioning of the system in
which they are influencing. In the example above, that would be carried by the head of the science
Leadership theories that describe the resources for leadership. The main body of leadership theories
that describe the resources for leadership include trait theories, those that focus on an individual’s
characteristics or personality and the resultant capacity to influence others. This approach emerged
early in the analysis of leadership and has a long history, from Galton (1869) to Drucker (1955) to
Zaccaro, (2007). In educational leadership theories, we see the trait perspective emerging in the
literature that advances the importance of the leader’s values (see, for example, Sergiovanni, 1992
and Lazaridou, 2007).
The early credibility of the trait perspective was undermined by Stogdill (1948) who argued that
leadership capability was heavily influenced by the context and that personality traits did not
adequately predict leader effectiveness. The issue is complex, however. Personality traits and an
individual’s sense-making capability, which is considered by some to be ‘the master trait’ (James
et al., 2017; Loevinger, 1976, 1987) can impact on leadership practice in schools. Further, whether
a strong sense of the importance of acting responsibly in educational settings is a trait is relevant
here (see Lauermann and Karabenick, 2011).
The early attraction of traits as an essential resource for influencing others is grounded in the
idea that influencing others requires authority, which is, in essence, legitimate power (Woods,
2016), and that particular traits convey that requisite authority. Of course, that simple view of
authority as power that is deemed legitimate in some way calls up numerous questions around what
the source of power is and how it is deemed legitimate, but nonetheless it is a useful working
definition. Typically, the position an individual holds in the management/leadership hierarchy of
an organization, including an educational institution, confers authority. Ideally, this authority
would be commensurate with the responsibility they carry, or the position-holder will have insuf-
ficient resources to influence those who participate in the system for which they are responsible.
The authority of a member of the teaching staff of a school can be secured in non-formal ways,
with power derived from a range of sources and its use legitimized in a range of ways. Whether its
use, when made visible in actions (Foucault, 1980) is responsible is important here.
Leadership theories and the process of leading. Theories which describe leadership processes in
organisations generally are numerous (Ladkin, 2010), as they are for educational leadership (Bush
and Glover, 2014). They are typically normative in nature, and examples of those that have been
advocated for use in educational contexts include: servant leadership (Greenleaf, 2002); strategic
leadership (Davies and Davies, 2004); invitational leadership (Egley, 2003); ethical leadership
(Brown and Trevin
˜o, 2006); constructivist leadership (Lambert, 2002a); and sustainable leadership
(Hargreaves, 2007). Transformational leadership (Bass, 1990) has also been widely advocated in
8Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
educational settings (Leithwood and Jantzi, 1990) but not transactional leadership specifically
(Bass, 1990). We consider these two leadership theories in more detail later because of their
special relationship with the outcome of leadership, the change in the motivation of those being
influenced. The implicit assumption in all these theories that describe the process of leading is that
they are being undertaken to achieve legitimate outcomes. Further, it is quite possible for a teacher
to influence their colleagues according to the principles of a leadership theory without carrying the
responsibility for the functioning of the system in which they are influencing.
Educational leadership theories that address the process of leading would include those that
focus on who is doing the leading. Theories in this group include ‘teacher leadership’ (Muijs and
Harris, 2006; Yorke-Barr and Duke, 2004). It is the teachers who are doing the influencing to
achieve desired goals. Distributed leadership (Harris, 2005, 2013) and shared leadership (Lambert,
2002b), which have been widely advocated for use in educational settings, fit into this category.
Here the process of influencing other teachers is the province of ‘the many’ members of the
teaching system, not just ‘the few’ at the top. The implicit assumption of those advocating this
approach is that the teachers – ‘the many’ – will not exceed their authority and will act responsibly
when influencing their fellow teachers, and that the goals of the teachers doing the influencing are
the same desired goals as those responsible for the system within the institution in which they are
The context for leadership. Over 50 years ago, Fiedler (1964) argued that leadership effectiveness
depends on the environment for leadership, the context. Three aspects of the context are signif-
icant. The first is the general level of acceptance and respect accorded to those seeking to influ-
ence. The second aspect is the degree of structure of the intended objective of the leadership
influence and ‘the nature of the task’ to which it applies ‘in terms of its clarity or ambiguity’
(Fiedler, 1964: 160). The third aspect is the authority of the person influencing. Favourable
contexts for the leadership process are where all three of these aspects are at a high level. Ideally,
in educational institutions, members of the teaching staff seeking to influence responsibly in
relation to the context will enhance the extent to which the context is favourable for their influence.
Regardless of the favourability of the environment, those influencing do not necessarily carry the
responsibility for the system in which they are influencing.
Leadership theories and the outcome of the leadership process. An outcome of all the different kinds of
leadership process is the extent to which people are moved or motivated to think/feel/act in some
way. This change is central to influence. Perspectives on motivation vary but it is generally
considered to be the ‘the degree to which an individual wants or chooses to engage in certain
specific behaviours’ (Mitchell, 1982: 84). Two kinds can be distinguished: (a) intrinsic motivation,
and (b) extrinsic motivation (Be´nabou and Tirole, 2003; Ryan and Deci, 2000). In intrinsic
motivation, the task an individual is engaged in is inherently motivating. Work on it gives ‘internal
rewards’, such as an enhanced feeling of doing ‘good work’, an increased sense of self-fulfilment,
or a greater sense of vocational satisfaction and these intrinsic rewards drive behaviour. In extrinsic
motivation, engagement on a task is driven by rationales other than the inherent value of the task,
such as a tangible reward for completing it, a threat of some kind if the task is not completed, or the
status accrued from performing the task. Here we argue that the distinction between the two forms
relates to two important leadership theories: transformational leadership theory and transactional
leadership theory (Bass, 1990). These theories require particular attention because of the different
kinds of motivation they generate, and because of their significance in educational settings.
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 9
Transformational leadership seeks to call up people’s inner motivation to work on an intrinsically
motivating task (Piccollo and Colquitt, 2009). Transactional leadership on the other hand relies on
an external stimulus. At the heart of transactional leadership is an exchange, a transaction (Miller
and Miller, 2001), which seeks to engender extrinsic motivation. Interestingly and perhaps sur-
prisingly, Leithwood and Jantzi (2005) include transactional leadership in a framework for the
analysis of transformational leadership and view it as synonymous with management practices.
Transformational leadership developed in the late 20th century, partly as a response to a
changing and challenging economic and technological environment (Styhre, 2014). Neo-
liberalism, which grew out of these social changes, inter alia emphasised the role of those respon-
sible for business organisations and their leadership practices in achieving organisational success.
This perspective extended to the public sector, especially the education sector with political leaders
emphasising the importance of education for economic success, and the necessity of improving
education quality with limited resources (Hood and Dixon, 2015; Hughes, 2012; Pollitt, 2013).
Hence, the need for a leadership model that inspired and intrinsically motivated the workforce –
Transformational leadership has been widely advocated as an appropriate model of educational
leadership – see, for example, Leithwood and Jantzi, (1990) and Hallinger 2003 – although clarity
around the concept has been a casualty of such advocacy. Given its link with intrinsic motivation
the promotion of transformational leadership is understandable. Teaching is a vocation; people are
called to do it and for them, the task of teaching will be intrinsically motivating. Transformational
leadership can relatively easily connect with this intrinsic motivation and enhance it. For example,
the transformational leadership component ‘intellectual stimulation’ (Bass, 1990) would seek to
deepen and enhance knowledge about and practice in the already engaging task of teaching.
Further, because of the complex interactional nature of schools (Hawkins and James, 2017), those
responsible for their proper functioning need to be able to trust teachers to act responsibly, which
places a premium on intrinsic motivation, and therefore transformational leadership. Such an
expectation is part of the professional practice of teachers (Lauermann and Karabenick, 2011).
Interestingly, transactional motivation methods such as offering pay incentives to teachers has long
been known have little effect on teachers’ motivation (Sylvia and Hutchinson, 1985), and may
indeed crowd out (Sandel, 2013) teachers’ intrinsic motivation (Deci,1971).
In summary, the preceding review of the nature of educational leadership establishes is as a
practice and reveals the importance of undertaking such influencing practice responsibly. We
expect responsible actions by members of staff in an educational institution. As individuals, they
carry the responsibility for their own influencing actions even though they may not carry the
responsibility for the functioning of an educational system of some kind in which others partic-
ipate, which is the essence of educational management. In the next section, we consider the notion
of responsibility in educational settings – educational responsibility.
The importance of educational responsibility
Referring back to the definition offered by Lauermann and Karabenick (2011) we gave earlier,
responsibility is an internal sense of obligation, not an action, although it may underpin actions.
Responsibility is a multi-relational concept (Auhagen and Bierhoff, 2001) with a range of com-
ponents (Lauermann and Karabenick, 2011). Lenk (1992) sets out a framework for analysing the
concept, which Lauermann and Karabenick (2011) configure into six components/questions: (a)
Who is responsible? (b) For what? (c) For/to whom? (d) Who is the judge? (e) In relation to what
10 Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
criteria of responsibility? (f) In what realm of responsibility? In relation to the difference between
educational management and educational leadership, the core distinction lies in the first and
second components: who is responsible and for what? Educational management necessitates a
designated individual carrying the responsibility for the functioning of a system in which others
participate in an educational institution. In asserting that, we acknowledge that there are instances
where this responsibility may be shared, but they are exceptions. In educational leadership, indi-
viduals are responsible for their own of leadership/influencing actions regardless of whether they
carry the responsibility for the functioning of a system in which they are influencing. The notion of
the realm of responsibility, the sixth component/question identified by Lauermann and Karabenick
(2011), would be educational institutions. Thus the responsibility we are referring to here is
educational responsibility. Interestingly, there is a growing interest in the notion of ‘responsible
leadership’, especially in the corporate sector (Voegtlin, 2016). It is posited as a theory of lead-
ership by a number of authors such as Pless and Maak (2011) and Voegtlin et al. (2012), and in that
sector, perhaps unsurprisingly, it sits alongside ethical leadership (Mayer et al., 2012). Such a
perspective on educational leadership has yet to feature in the literature.
A person carrying the responsibility for the functioning of a system in an educational institution
in which others participate may or may not be called to account for the functioning of the system
for which he/she is responsible. Similarly, an individual member of the teaching staff carries the
responsibility for their own actions influencing colleagues and may or may not be called to account
for their influencing/leadership actions. It is an expectation associated with the professional nature
of teaching and the individual may be called to account for their influencing actions. The obliga-
tion that these two facets of educational responsibility entail as a result of delegation and profes-
sional expectations cannot be respectively casually handed on to another or legitimately denied.
In conceptualising educational responsibility in the way we have, we are aware that the bound-
ary between the two dimensions – responsibility for a system in which others participate in an
educational institution and individual teachers carrying the responsibility for their own influencing
actions – we have created a boundary. The distinction relates to management responsibility,
created by delegation and professional responsibility, resulting from being a professional teacher
and acting in accordance with those expectations. Professional responsibility is not delegated to
individual teachers by those able to assign responsibilities in a management sense. Notions of
professional accountability reflect that standpoint (Moeller, 2008).
In advancing educational responsibility, we are struck by the way the rise of education lead-
ership as a central feature of organising in educational institutions has been not only at the cost of
educational management but also at the cost of teachers as professional practitioners. A view of
‘teachers as leaders’ rather than ‘teachers as professionals’ has developed. A key feature of the
professional practice of teachers is responsible action in relation to students, colleagues and the
institution of which they are a part and its stakeholders.
In this article, we have sought to consider and to contrast educational management and educational
leadership. In essence, educational management/administration entails being assigned and carry-
ing the responsibility for the proper functioning of a system of some kind in which others partic-
ipate in an educational institution. Carrying this responsibility is a state of mind not an action.
Educational leadership on the other hand is the act of influencing others in educational settings to
achieve goals and thus necessitates actions. Although educational leadership is ideally undertaken
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 11
responsibly, in practice it does not entail carrying the responsibility for the functioning of the
system in which the influencing/leadership actions take place. When those carrying a delegated
responsibility for a system in which others participate act, which they typically do, they influence
others and are therefore leading. Educational management (carrying a delegated responsibility)
and educational leadership (influencing others) are conceptually different, a difference that is not
recognised in the literature. Through that analysis, the notion of educational responsibility comes
to the fore. Educational responsibility is a significant and relatively under-utilised idea in the
literature on organising in educational institutions.
The distinction we have made between educational leadership and educational management
matters for a number of reasons. It facilitates the development of theory in the organisation of
educational institutions and it enables organising practices in schools to be better reflected upon,
understood and improved. The distinction will help those developing their management and
leadership practice though further study and participation in research-based programmes – Masters
and Doctoral students – to have a secure platform upon which to build their work. Finally,
distinguishing between leadership and management allows the importance of educational man-
agement to be acknowledged and its status raised. What educational management entails, being
assigned and carrying the responsibility for the proper functioning of a system in an educational
institution in which others participate, is important. School failure is frequently blamed on a failure
of leadership. We do not discount that but suggest that it could be a failure of management. This
management responsibility, together with the second component of educational responsibility,
professional responsibility, are foundational in the everyday operation of schools and in securing
the legitimacy of schools as institutions.
We acknowledge that at times in this article, we have been working with and rehearsing basic
ideas but necessarily so to achieve conceptual clarity. We also recognise that we may have been
somewhat provocative in this account, cutting across established orthodoxies and prevailing views.
We welcome countervailing perspectives and wish to encourage constructive debate on the issues
we have raised.
Declaration of conflicting interests
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publi-
cation of this article.
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit
ASCL (2017) Join us. Available at: https://www.ascl.org.uk/join-us/ (accessed 1 June 2017).
Auhagen AE and Bierhoff HW (2001) Responsibility: The Many Faces of a Social Phenomenon. London:
Ball SJ (2008) The Education Debate. Bristol: Policy Press.
Barnard C (1938) The Functions of the Executive. Cambridge: Cambridge Harvard University Press.
Bass BM (1990) Bass and Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research and Managerial Applica-
tions. New York: The Free Press.
Barker RA (2001) The nature of leadership. Human Relations 54(4): 469–494.
12 Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
Be´nabou R and Tirole J (2003) Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The Review of Economic Studies 70(3):
Bendix R (1977) Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Bennis W and Nanus B (1985) Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge. Newark: Harper and Row.
Blase J and Blase J (2004) Handbook of Instructional Leadership: How Successful Principals Promote
Teaching and Learning, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Bolden R (2011) Distributed leadership in organizations: A review of theory and research. International
Journal of Management Reviews 13: 251–269.
Brown ME and Trevin
˜o LK (2006) Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. The Leadership
Quarterly 17(6): 596–616.
Bunnell T, Fertig M and James CR (2016) What is international about International Schools? An institutional
legitimacy perspective. Oxford Review of Education 42(4): 408–423. DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2016.
Bunnell T, Fertig M and James CR (2017) Establishing the legitimacy of a school’s claim to be ‘Interna-
tional’: The provision of an international curriculum as the institutional primary task. Education Review
Bush T (2008) From management to leadership: Semantic or meaningful change? Educational, Management,
Administration and Leadership 36(2): 271–288.
Bush T and Glover D (2014) School leadership models: What do we know? School Leadership and Man-
agement 34(5): 553–571.
Chapman C, Getha-Taylor H, Holmes MH, et al. (2016) How public service leadership is studied: An
examination of a quarter century of scholarship. Public Administration 94(1): 111–128.
Cuban L (1988) The Managerial Imperative and the Practice of Leadership in Schools. New York: State
University of New York Press.
Dale D and James CR (2015) The importance of affective containment during unwelcome educational
change: The curious incident of the deer hut fire. Educational Management Administration and Leader-
ship 43(1): 92–106.
Davies BJ and Davies B (2004) Strategic leadership. School Leadership and Management 24(1): 29–38.
Deci EL (1971) Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology 18: 105–115.
Dimmock C (1999) Principals and school restructuring: Conceptualising challenges as dilemmas, Journal of
Educational Administration 37(5): 441–462.
Drucker P (1955) The Practice of Management. London: Heinnemann Professional.
Dunning G, James C and Jones N (2005) Splitting and projection at work in schools. Journal of Educational
Administration 43(3): 244–259.
Egley R (2003) Invitational Leadership: Does It Make a Difference? Journal of Invitational Theory and
Practice 9: 57–70.
Fertig M and James CR (2016) The leadership and management of international schools: Very complex
matters. In: Hayden M and Thompson J (Eds.) International Schools: Current Issues and Future Pros-
pects. Didcot: Symposium Books, p. 240. ISBN: 978-1873927-92-2.
Fiedler FE (1964) A contingency model of leadership effectiveness. Advances in Experimental Social Psy-
chology 1: 149–190.
Fitzgerald T (2009) The tyranny of bureaucracy: Continuing challenges of leading and managing from the
middle. Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 37(1): 51–65.
Foucault M (1980) Power/Knowledge:Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. London:
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 13
Galton F (1869). Hereditary Genius. New York: Appleton.
Goldman (1998) The significance of leadership style. Educational Leadership 55(7): 20–22.
Greenleaf RK (2002) Servant Leadership. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press
Grint K (2005), Leadership: Limits and Possibilities. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Hallinger P (2003) Leading Educational Change: reflections on the practice of instructional and transforma-
tional leadership. Cambridge Journal of Education 33 (3): 329–351.
Hallinger P (2009) Leadership for 21st Century Schools: From Instructional Leadership to Leadership for
Learning. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Hargreaves A (2007) Sustainable Leadership and Development in Education: Creating the future, conserving
the past. European Journal of Education 42(2): 223–233.
Harris A (2005) Crossing Boundaries and Breaking Barriers: Distributing Leadership in Schools. London:
Specialist Schools Trust.
Harris A (2013) Distributed Leadership Matters: Perspectives, Practicalities, and Potential. Thousand Oaks,
Hawkins M and James CR (2016) Understanding leadership in schools: A Complex, Evolving, Loosely
Linking Systems (CELLS) Perspective. Paper presented at the University Council for Educational Admin-
istration Annual Convention, Detroit, MI, 17–20 November 2016. UCEA: University of Virgina.
Hawkins M and James CR (2017) Developing a perspective on schools as complex, evolving, loosely linking
systems. Educational Management Administration and Leadership. DOI: 10.1177/1741143217711192.
Heck RH and Hallinger P (2005) The study of educational leadership and management: Where does the field
stand today? Educational Management, Administration and Leadership 32(2): 229–244.
Hood C and Dixon R (2015) A Government that Works Better and Costs Less? Oxford: Oxford University
Hopkins D, Ainscow M and West M (1994) School Improvement in an Era of Change, London: Cassell.
Hughes OE (2012) Public Management and Administration, 4th ed., Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
IAM (2016) About Us. Available at: http://www.instam.org/about/about-us (accessed 14 December
Jackson B and Perry K (2008) A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying
Leadership. London: SAGE.
James CR, James JE and Potter I (2017) An exploration of the validity and potential of adult ego development
for enhancing understandings of school leadership. School Leadership and Management 37(4): 372–390.
James CR and Vince R (2001) Developing the leadership capability of headteachers. Educational Manage-
ment and Administration 29(1): 307–317.
Kaparou M and Bush T (2015) Instructional leadership in centralised systems: Evidence from Greek high-
performing secondary schools. School Leadership and Management 35(3): 321–345.
Kanter R (1983) The Changemasters. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Kooiman J (2001) Interactive Governance. London: Routledge.
Ladkin D (2010) Rethinking Leadership: A New Look at Old Leadership Questions. Cheltenham: Edward
Lambert L (2002a) The Constructivist Leader. New York: Teachers’ College Press.
Lambert L (2002b) A framework for shared leadership. Educational Leadership 59(8): 37–40.
Lauermann F and Karabenick SA (2011) Taking teacher responsibility into account(ability): Explicating its
multiple components and theoretical status, Educational Psychologist 46(2): 122–140.
Lazaridou A (2007) Values in principals’ thinking when solving problems. International Journal of Leader-
ship in Education 10(4): 339–356.
14 Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)
Leithwood K and Jantzi D (1990) Transformational leadership: How principals can help reform school
cultures. School Effectiveness and School Improvement 1(4): 249–280.
Leithwood K and Jantzi D (2005) A review of transformational school leadership research 1996–2005.
Leadership and Policy in Schools 4(3): 177–199.
Leithwood K, Jantzi D and Steinbach R (1999) Changing Leadership for Changing Times. Buckingham, UK:
Open University Press.
Lenk H (Ed.) (1992) Zwischen Wissenschaft und Ethik [Between science and ethics]. Frankfurt am Main,
Germany: Suhrkamp Verlag.
Loevinger J (1976) Ego Development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey–Bass.
Loevinger J (1987) Paradigms of Personality. New York: Freeman.
Lumby J (2017) Distributed leadership and bureaucracy. Educational Management, Administration and
Leadership 1–15. Epub ahead of print 1 June 2017. DOI: 10.1177/1741143217711190.
March JG and Weil T (2005) On Leadership. Oxford. Blackwell.
Mayer DM, Aquino K and Greenbaum RL (2012) Who displays ethical leadership, and why does it matter?
An examination of antecedents and consequences of ethical leadership. Academy of Management Journal
Miller T and Miller J (2001) Educational leadership in the new millennium: A vision for 2020. International
Journal of Leadership in Education 4(2): 181–189.
Mitchell TR (1982) Motivation: New directions for theory research and practice. Academy of Management
Review 7(1): 80–88.
Moeller J (2008) School leadership in an age of accountability. Journal of Educational Change 10: 37–46.
Muijs D and Harris A (2006) Teacher-led school improvement: Teacher leadership in the UK. Teaching and
Teacher Education 22: 961–972.
Mullins LJ and Christie G (2016) Management and Organisational Behaviour, 11th ed. London: Pearson.
Peters T and Waterman R (1982) In Search of Excellence. Newark: Harper and Row.
Piccolo RF and Colquitt JA (2009) Transformational leadership and job behaviors: The mediating role of core
job characteristics. Academy of Management Journal 49(2): 327–340.
Pless N and Maak T (2011) Responsible leadership: Pathways to the future. Journal of Business Ethics 98:
Pollitt C (2013) The evolving narratives of public management reform: 40 years of Reform White Papers in
the UK. Public Management Review 15(6): 899–922.
Raelin J (2016) Imagine there are no leaders: Reframing leadership as collaborative agency. Leadership
Rost JC (1993) Leadership for the 21st Century. Westport, US: Praeger.
Ryan RM and Deci EL (2000) Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social
development, and well-being. American Psychologist 55(1): 68–78.
Sandel M (2013) What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets. London: Penguin.
Sergiovanni TJ (1992) Moral Leadership: Getting to the Heart of School Improvement. San Francisco, CA:
Southworth G (2002) Instructional leadership in schools: Reflections and empirical evidence. School Lead-
ership and Management 22(1): 73–91.
Southworth G (2003) Balancing act—the importance of learning-centred leadership. National College for
School Leadership 1(6): 13–17.
Stogdill RM (1948) Personal factors associated with leadership: A survey of the literature. Journal of
Psychology 25: 35–71.
Styhre A (2014) Management and Neoliberalism: Connecting Policies and Practices. London: Routledge.
Connolly et al.: The difference between educational management and educational leadership 15
Sylvia RD and Hutchinson T (1985) What makes Ms. Johnson teach? A study of teacher motivation. Human
Relations 38: 841–856.
Voegtlin C (2016) What does it mean to be responsible? Addressing the missing responsibility dimension in
ethical leadership research. Leadership 12(5): 581–608.
Voegtlin C, Patzer M and Scherer AG (2012) Responsible leadership in global business: A new approach to
leadership and its multi-level outcomes. Journal of Business Ethics 105: 1–16.
Woods P (2016) Authority, power and distributed leadership. Management in Education 30(4): 155–160.
Yorke-Barr J and Duke K (2004) What do we know about teacher leadership? Findings from two decades of
scholarship. Review of Educational Research 74(3): 255–316.
Yukl GA (2002) Leadership in Organisations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Zaccaro SJ (2007) Trait-based perspectives of leadership. American Psychologist 62(1): 6–16.
Michael Connolly is the Emeritus Professor of Public Policy and Management, University of
South Wales, UK. His research interests include educational leadership, management governance
and policy. Michael has published over a 100 journal articles and book chapters, and written three
Chris James is the Professor of Educational Leadership and Management in the Department of
Education at the University of Bath. He researches and teaches educational leadership, manage-
ment, governance, and the organisational dynamics of educational institutions. Chris has published
over 100 journal articles/book chapters and written 15 books/major reports.
Michael Fertig is a lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of Bath. His research
interests include educational leadership and management, school leadership, management and
effectiveness in developing countries, and the leadership, management, accreditation and institu-
tionalisation of international schools.
16 Educational Management Administration & Leadership XX(X)