Fullan, Michael (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 161pp.
Fullan has written this book for the purpose of demonstrating how five key themes of leadership will allow leaders in business and education to have an advantage in today’s messy conditions of rapid change. These five themes are: moral purpose, understanding of the change process, developing relationships, knowledge building, and coherence making.
- This book is not about superleaders. Charismatic leaders inadvertently often do more harm than good because, at best they provide episodic improvement followed by frustrated or despondent dependency. Superhuman leaders also do us another disservice: they are roles models who can never be emulated by large numbers. Deep and sustained reform depends on many of us, not just on the very few who are destined to be extraordinary (p. 1).
- The litmus test of all leadership is whether it mobilizes people’s commitment to putting their energy into actions designed to improve things. It is individual commitment, but it is above all collective mobilization (p. 9).
- In summary, leadership, if it is to effective, has to: 1) have an explicit “making a difference” sense of purpose, 2) use strategies that mobilize many people to tackle tough problems, 3) be held accountable by measured and debatable indicators of success, and 4) be ultimately assessed the extent to which it awakens people’s intrinsic commitment which is none other than the mobilizing of everyone’s sense of moral purpose (pp. 20-21).
- The most fundamental conclusion of this chapter is that moral purpose and sustained performance of organizations are mutually dependent… “The theory of sustainability is that it is constituted by a trinity of environmental soundness, social justice, and economic viability. If any these three are weak or missing, the theory of sustainability says that practice (i.e. what the organization is doing) will not prove sustainable over time” (p. 29).
- Leading in a culture of change means creating a culture (not just a structure) of change. It does not mean adopting innovations, one after another; it does mean producing the capacity to seek, critically assess, and selectively incorporate new ideas and practices – all the times, inside the organization as well as outside it (p. 44).
- In other words, weak collaborations is always ineffective, but strong communities can make matters worse if, in the collaboration, teachers (however unwittingly) reinforce each other’s bad or ineffective practice. This is why close relationships are not ends in themselves. Collaborative cultures, which by definition have close relationships, are indeed powerful, but unless they are focusing on the right things they may end up being powerfully wrong (p. 67).