Integrative Leadership Framework

Synthesis of Educational Leadership Theory 1

Tony Bush

Regenerative Education Framework 4: Synthesis of Educational Leadership Theory (Bush)

Affordance: affinities

  • Level at which goals determined   
  • Processes by which goals are determined   
  • Relationship between goals and decisions   
  • Nature of decision process   
  • Nature of Structure   
  • Links with environment   
  • Style of leadership   
  • Related leadership model   
  • Collegial
  • Institutional
  • Agreement
  • Decisions based on agreed goals
  • Collegial
  • Objective reality / Lateral
  • Accountability blurred by shared decision making
  • Head seeks to promote consensus
  • Participative Leadership / Distributed Leadership / Teacher Leadership
  • Formal
  • Institutional
  • Set by leaders
  • Decisions based on goals
  • Rational
  • Objective reality / Hierarchical
  • May be ‘closed’ or ‘open’ Head accountable
  • Head establishes goals and initiates policy
  • Managerial Leadership
  • Political
  • Subunit
  • Conflict
  • Decisions based on goals of dominant coalitions
  • Political
  • Setting for subunit
  • Unstable external bodies portrayed as interest groups
  • Head is both participant and mediator
  • Transactional Leadership / Transformational Leadership
  • Subjective
  • Individual
  • Problematic May be imposed by leaders
  • Individual behaviour based on personal objectives
  • Personal
  • Constructed through human interaction
  • Source of individual meanings
  • Problematic May be perceived as form of control
  • Postmodern Leadership / Emotional Leadership
  • Ambiguity
  • Unclear
  • Unpredictable
  • Decisions unrelated to goals
  • Garbage Can
  • Problematic
  • Source of uncertainty
  • May be tactical or unobtrusive
  • Contingent Leadership


The initial synthesis of educational leadership theory is based substantially on the typology of models developed by Bush (2020). Five of his six organisational categories are correlated with the worldview synthesis: Collegial, Formal, Political, Subjective and Ambiguity. The sixth Cultural model of organisational management is omitted from the original matrix (Bush, p169) but implicitly expanded to encompass the values and beliefs contained in the worldview synthesis as a whole, with intercultural applications to moral leadership which Bush identifies as the prevalent cultural model of leadership. A worldviews approach to reframing Bush’s typology critically affirms the theoretical pluralism of his original attempt at synthesis. It recognises that respective models resonate with specific worldviews and draws out the normative values-imbued aspect of each theory. It also provides a means of critically analysing deficiencies of educational leadership models relative to worldview as well as creatively exploring the dialogue between them in the search for creative contingency and interdependence.

Further Reading

Bush, T. (2020). Theories of Educational Leadership and Management (5 ed). Sage.

© 2024 EduSynthesis

Centre for Mindful Educational Leadership

Tim Saunders PhD


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?