Stepping-stones and glass ceilings : the motivations and challenges of aspirant leaders

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Harford, Stephanie Darryl Kayte
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Educational Leadership and Management
Unitec Institute of Technology
Youngs, Howard
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand secondary schools
aspirant leaders
professional development
central North Island
leadership shortage
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Harford, S.D.K. (2013). Stepping-stones and glass ceilings : the motivations and challenges of aspirant leaders. Unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Leadership and Management.
New Zealand secondary schools could face a shortage of aspirant leaders, both in terms of quantity and quality. The shortage of aspirant leaders may be due to a possible 'retirement boom’ as well as an environment of work intensification, which can act as a deterrent to attract potential aspirants to pursue leadership positions. This may result in crucial leadership roles not being adequately filled. This research project aims to identify the motivations and challenges of aspirant leaders whilst examining succession planning and leadership development within New Zealand secondary schools. Three central North Island secondary schools participated in this research and a qualitative methodology was used. An on-line questionnaire was conducted to gain baseline data and this was followed by six semi-structured interviews. One key finding from the research suggested that aspirant leaders were reluctant to pursue leadership roles due to the challenges they faced Challenges were identified as being an increased workload, negative perceptions of the roles and a lack of professional development for leadership capabilities. A blockage on the ‘leadership ladder’ was also identified, acting as a further challenge for aspirant leaders. This research argues that adequate provision of leadership development would provide motivational support to aspirant leaders, as would a planned approach to succession planning within New Zealand’s decentralised schooling system. This would ensure that leadership roles were adequately filled within New Zealand secondary schools.
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