Confucius as a moral sage and a transformational leader: Lessons for the ESL school leader.



Publication Details

Bi, L., Ehrich, J. F. & Ehrich, L. C. (2012). Confucius as a moral sage and a transformational leader: Lessons for the ESL school leader.. International Journal of Educational Management, 26 (4), 391-402.


Purpose – This paper aims to explore the leadership values and practices of Confucius in the light of transformational leadership theory. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is literature based. Findings – The paper discusses four key dimensions of transformational leadership theory: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration and uses these as a framework for exploring the values of and teaching approach used by Confucius. The key message of the paper is that educational leaders have much to learn from a Confucian leadership style that is fundamentally transformational in nature and encompasses moral/ethical, socially critical, and democratic dimensions. Practical implications – The paper presents a case study of an English as a second language (ESL) school and identifies several practical suggestions for ESL leaders to consider if they are to follow the tenets of Confucius’s teachings. Originality/value – The paper is original as it links the values and practices of Confucius to transformational leadership theory and considers how this theory might look in practice for leaders within a contemporary ESL school context.

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