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Leadership as Lunacy

And Other Metaphors for Educational Leadership

An imaginative approach to rethinking and revitalizing your leadership practice!

Using such thought-provoking and unexpected metaphors as "leadership as war" and "leadership as lunacy," the authors draw readers through historical perspectives and cognitive possibilities that surprise, inspire, and provoke reflection on current leadership models, behaviors, practices, and roles in education. This book helps school and district leaders:

  • Understand the power of metaphor and how metaphors have been used to define leadership
  • Reflect upon and develop a deeper connection to their roles and their approaches to leadership
  • Initiate change in themselves and others

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412974271
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2010
  • Page Count: 176
  • Publication date: August 10, 2010

Price: $39.95



"This book will challenge, enlighten, and transform. The authors invite us to re-examine our core values as educational leaders, reconsider our priorities, and place the humanity of children at the center of our work."
—Nancy Skerritt, Assistant Superintendent,Tahoma School District, Maple Valley, WA

"By their analysis, Lumby and English expose the power of language to shape meaning. By their skill, they illustrate the power of language to engage and enrich. Their work is an important contribution to how we understand and practice leadership in all fields."
—Steven R. Thompson, Coordinator, School Leadership Program, Miami University

An imaginative approach to rethinking and revitalizing your leadership practice!

Research has shown that metaphors inspire leaders to reflect on their mind-sets, behaviors, practices, and approaches, leading to new perspectives on their roles. Using such thought-provoking and unexpected metaphors as "leadership as war" and "leadership as lunacy," the authors draw readers through historical perspectives and cognitive possibilities that inspire, resolve, confuse, and provoke reflection on the state of leadership in education. This book examines the current discourse on educational leadership models, behaviors, and roles, and helps school and district leaders:

  • Understand the power of metaphor and how metaphors have been used to define leadership
  • Develop a deeper connection to their roles and their approaches
  • Initiate change in themselves and in others

By inspiring creative thinking and critical reflection, Leadership as Lunacy helps leaders achieve personal and professional growth and invigorate their professional relationships!

Key features

  • Various interpretations of metaphor and how metaphors have been used to define leadership
  • How metaphors can stimulate reflection and inspire self-growth
  • How metaphors and metaphorical thinking are embedded in recent policy and guidance documents and the implications for practice, for children and for communities
  • Author(s)


    Jacky Lumby photo

    Jacky Lumby

    Professor Jacky Lumby's main interests are in educational leadership and management, particularly focused on how some learners and staff may be excluded. This has led her to engage with issues of diversity, gender and power. She is concerned to explore how leaders can be supported to lead people, systems and processes which offer success to all learners and staff in the context of living a life they value. Her work encompasses a range of perspectives, including critical theory and comparative and international perspectives. She is interested in challenging the assumption of the appropriateness of Western-derived concepts, theories and suggested practice in different cultures and in an increasingly diverse UK culture. She has researched and published widely on the leadership and management of schools and colleges in the UK, Ireland, China, Hong Kong and South Africa. Her most recent book (with Professor Fenwick English) explores the use of metaphors in the language of education and its links to the ways we think about and develop education. She has also published books on diversity and leadership (with Dr Marianne Coleman) and on 14-19 education (with Professor Nick Foskett). Professor Lumby entered higher education after a long and varied involvement with education, having taught and led in secondary schools, adult and community and further education She also worked in a Training and Enterprise Council with responsibility for the development of managers in both business and education, managing a network which allowed the cross-fertilisation of skills and experience from education into business and vice versa. She is co editor of two international handbooks on leader preparation and development. Awards and Memberships Research Advisory Panel - Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Expert Group member - European Policy Network on School Leadership Expert Group member - Diversity in HE Leadership, funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Consultant - The Cyprus Council of Educational Evaluation Accreditation
    Fenwick W. English photo

    Fenwick W. English

    Fenwick W. English (Ph.D.) is the R. Wendell Eaves Senior Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a position he has held since 2001. As a scholar/practitioner he has held positions as a school principal and superintendent of schools in California and New York and as a department chair, dean, and vice-chancellor of academic affairs at universities in Ohio and Indiana. He is the former President of the University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA) and of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration (NCPEA). His research has been reported in national and international academic forums. He edited the 2006 SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration, the 2009 SAGE Library of Educational Thought and Practice: Educational Leadership and Administration; and the 2011 SAGE Handbook of Educational Leadership (2nd Ed.). In 2013, he received the Living Legend Award from NCPEA for his lifetime contribution to the field of educational leadership.

    Table of Contents

    Table of Contents


    About the Authors

    1. The Presence and Power of Metaphors

    Not Just Words

    From Gilgamesh to Obama: Metaphors Communicate and Connect

    How Metaphors Work

    Why a Book About Metaphors for Educational Leaders?


    Toward a New Kind of Wisdom

    2. Leadership as Machine

    Running the Factory

    Leaders Running the Machine

    Evaluating the Machine

    On Being a Machine

    The Machine Metaphor

    3. Leadership as Accounting

    The Relentless Pursuit of Rationality and Waste

    Educational Hyperrationalization

    The Cheating Culture: Corrosion of the Means/Ends Accountability Continuum

    The Accounting Metaphor: A Chimera Wrapped Up as an Ideology

    4. Leadership as War

    Preparing for a Board Meeting

    The Ambivalence of War Metaphors

    Military Admonitions, Educational Situations, and Contradictions

    The Way of the Warrior Is Death: Education Is Life

    5. Leadership as Sport

    Sports: Language and Action

    The Little ?Closed-System? World of an Athletic Team

    The Problem of the Charismatic Coach as a Model for the CEO

    Understanding the Nature of Power

    The Sports Metaphor: An Impossible Dream

    6. Leadership as Theater

    The School as Stage: What Lies Beneath?

    The School as Staged: Long Run or Repertory?

    The School as Staged: Acting Leadership

    The School as Ritual Performance

    School as Theater

    7. Leadership as Religion

    The Concept of the External Supreme Being

    Towards Perfection: The Idea of Progress

    Manifestations of Religion in Management and Educational Leadership

    The Presence of ?Managementspeak? and Religious Rituals in School Practices

    Warring Metaphors

    The Power of Religious Metaphors: The Universal Versus The Dogmatic and Partisan Experience

    Learning How to Lead Outside the Command and Control Model

    8. Leadership as Lunacy

    Lunacy as a Form of Toxicity

    Leaders as Lunatics

    The Lunatic Psyche

    Symptoms, Signs and Pathologies

    The Lunacy Metaphor

    9. Metaphors of Leadership

    The Uses of Metaphors

    Grand Narratives

    Positive Metaphors

    So, Where to Now?





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