Improving leadership by nurturing moral consciousness through structured self-reflection

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Purpose – The purpose of this research is to report on research that explores the use of structured self‐reflection to nurture moral consciousness as a means of enhancing the moral leadership capacity of existing school principals. Design/methodology/approach – Given that this research focuses on each participant's subjective reality, the epistemology of pragmatic constructivism was chosen to guide this qualitative study supported by the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism. Furthermore, a case study was chosen as the appropriate orchestrating perspective and an opportunistic sample of six school principals formed the participants in this case study. Findings – Data from this research support the view that the moral consciousness of each of the participating principals in this study was clearly enhanced by their experience of structured self‐reflection. Research limitations/implications – Due to the demanding nature of structured self‐reflection this approach takes a considerable amount of time. Also, as the reflection process is a very personal experience, the amount of time taken will vary noticeably amongst the participants. In addition, the ethical implications in facilitating structured self‐reflection are an extremely important implication. Participants must be made fully aware of the nature of such an experience so that not only can they voluntarily choose not to participate but also that they avoid reflecting on past experiences that engender sadness or anxiety within them should they choose to participate. Practical implications – Given the strong moral expectations now demanded of contemporary leaders, which implies that this is not a natural trait, structured self‐reflection affords a clearly achievable means for nurturing a leader's moral consciousness as an essential step in their professional development in moral leadership. Originality/value – The paper addresses the acknowledged blank spot in moral leadership research by providing a practical and effective way for positively influencing the leader's moral leadership development.


School of Education

Document Type

Journal Article

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ERA Access

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