AISSA Model: The Leadership Foundational Bedrock

In keeping with the mountain analogy, leading innovation and change requires a strong foundational bedrock. We have coined the term ‘foundational bedrock’ since it represents stability and strength – a perfect metaphor for leadership.  These are leaders who possess a deep understanding of the school’s cultural foundations, values and beliefs as well as a recognition of their own leadership strengths and capabilities.



Leading With Worldview in Mind

It is the leader’s role to identify the dominant worldview that pervades a culture so thoroughly that it becomes a culture’s concept of reality — what is good, what is important, its values and beliefs. It may well be necessary to break some elements of the existing paradigms of thinking to create a new world view that will better support the journey of change and innovation.



The Stories we tell ourselves – Leadership Narratives

Leaders are increasingly called upon to make sense of and give sense to the dynamic complexity of work environments. Narrative, an emerging field with its origins in the corporate sector, is a potentially powerful method for storying and re-storying at the individual, team, and organisational levels.  By personally reflecting on the questions Who am I? and What is my story? leaders will become more aware of the ways they construct their identity as a leader. Narratives provide a window into personal leadership styles, relationships with others, awareness of strengths and areas for development.  The narrative the school tells itself, Who are we? and What is our story?, can be extremely powerful in the analysis and future development of the organisation. There may be a need for the current story to be transformed to one that contemplates new possibilities and supports the desired future.


Effective leaders consider:

  • How to create, maintain and explore our identity through stories
  • How to let go of the old stories when they no longer serve well
  • How to find, co-create and share the new stories with each other
  • How to bring them into an emerging context such as an improvement and innovation agenda that can shape the future.



Causal Layered Analysis

Causal Layered Analysis identifies the driving forces and world views underpinning diverse perspectives about the school’s culture and possible futures. Through stakeholder discussion, sharing of diverse perspectives, and surfacing contrasting world views and underpinning myths, leaders are in a better position to deconstruct conventional thinking to produce a shared view of possible future outcomes that can break existing paradigms of thinking.



Agile and Adaptive Leadership

The complexity of today’s schools requires adaptive leaders who are able to mobilise people to tackle tough challenges and thrive – even when there may be no ready answers. Adaptive leadership is required when there is a gap between future aspirations and current practice, where solutions lie in innovation, learning and new ways of doing.  It is the adaptive leaders’ role to empower others to generate new norms that will enable the organisation to respond to the challenges posed by a world that offers new realities, challenges and opportunities.



Leadership Dispositions

Leaders need to know themselves and the strengths they bring and understand what drives them.  Leaders with highly developed Emotional Intelligence, are self-aware, able to effectively manage their emotional energy, possess high levels of social awareness and are skilled relationship managers. The best leaders have “resonance”, the ability to drive emotions in a positive direction and can fluidly interchange among a variety of leadership styles as the situation demands. Values based leaders and / or the authentic leader is rooted in a strong sense of self understanding and of knowing what is ‘right’ in any situation.   Kramer (2011) considers that the following leadership dispositions are essential for leading in the 21st century:

  • Self-reflection:  the ability to identify and reflect on what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most to you
  • Balance: the ability to see situations from multiple perspectives
  • True self confidence: and acceptance of who you are
  • Genuine humility



Leading innovation, transformation and change

In the core of the mountain lies powerful processes for leading innovation, transformation and change. In terms of the mountain metaphor, these leadership processes can be likened to internal tectonic forces that ultimately powerfully push and reshape the surface landscape.


Based on Hargreaves theory of Uplifting Leadership and Kotter’s change model, leaders relentlessly pursue the change process and in doing so:

  • Identify and articulate an inspiring dream that is coherently connected to the best of what the organization has been before
  • Pursue that dream at a sustainable pace
  • Forge paths of innovation and improvement that others may have overlooked or rejected
  • Monitor progress by using metrics and indicators in a mindful and meaningful way
  • Build teams that naturally pull people into change rather than pushing them through it