International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Administration

Volume 1 of the series Kluwer International Handbooks of Education pp 785-840

Transformational School Leadership

  • Kenneth LeithwoodAffiliated withOntario Institute for Studies in Education
  • , Diana TomlinsonAffiliated withOntario Institute for Studies in Education
  • , Maxine GengeAffiliated withOntario Institute for Studies in Education

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Transformational leadership is a term which has appeared with increasing frequency in writings about education since the late 1980’s. Sometimes it has been used to signify an appropriate type of leadership for schools taking up the challenges of restructuring now well underway in most developed countries throughout the world (Leithwood, 1992). In this context, a common-sense, non-technical meaning of the term is often assumed. For example, the dictionary definition of transform is ‘to change completely or essentially in composition or structure’ (Webster, 1971). So any leadership with this effect may be labelled transformational, no matter the specific practices it entails or even whether the changes wrought are desirable.