University of Tasmania
whole_ReissigStevenJoseph2007_thesis.pdf (9.04 MB)

Developing empathic leadership through self-transformation

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posted on 2023-05-27, 16:55 authored by Reissig, SJ
This thesis works to deepen my understandings of empathic intelligence in relation to leadership. It builds upon experiences I have had as an education leader and as a fellowship holder in the United States where I discussed strategy and practice with key theorists, visited and observed at selected schools, and interviewed students and teachers, as well as principals who uniquely led their educational communities. The professional relationships formed during this experience provoked questions about my own leadership style and practice as principal of a rural Tasmanian High School. From these experiences I have developed a thesis that excellent school leaders demonstrate high degrees of empathic intelligence. This work explores the theory of empathic intelligence and how it can elucidate understanding of teaching and leadership. This thesis is structured by five key intentions, which are to: ‚Äö unfold an understanding of empathic intelligence informed by Arnold (2005); ‚Äö explore how empathic intelligence might be understood and enacted in a Tasmanian high school; ‚Äö use these understandings to unfold a concept of effective leadership at a range of levels in the Tasmanian system; ‚Äö reflect upon how I might extend my ability as an empathic leader; and ‚Äö critique and deepen the theory of empathic intelligence (Arnold 2005). To inform this study and support my personal theorising of highly effective empathic leadership, I critique theories of intelligence and leadership developed by Duignan (2004, 2003, 2002), Arnold (2005), Gardner (2000, 1993, 1991), Blythe et al. (1998) and Perkins (1992). I respond to my thesis intentions through processes of interpreting conversations (Davis et al. 2000; Van Manen 1990), narratives (Eakin 1999; Richardson 2000) and fictionalised letters (Ospina & Dodge 2005; Ellis & Bochner 2000). The processes of inquiry support me to: uncover four key elements of powerful empathic leadership (enthusiasm, engagement, expertise and, of course, empathy); deepen this theory by including the additional elements of trust and honesty; and suggest that links need to be developed through professional relationships. The inquiry then uncovers new questions about how empathic leadership is enacted in a Tasmanian High School. This inquiry suggests how powerful empathic leadership might work at personal, school and systemic levels. The inquiry is drawn to a close as I unfold a set of new questions that reflect my deepened understanding of empathic leadership.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2007 the author Thesis (EdD)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references. Section A: My lived experience - introduction. Ch. 1. My lived experience -- Ch. 2. Making connections -- Ch. 3. Professional framing -- Section B: Ways of inquiring - introduction. Ch. 4. Interviewing as inquiry -- Ch. 5. Writing letters as inquiry -- Section C: Interpreting my inquiry - introduction. Ch. 6. Enthusiasm: letters to Amelia -- Ch. 7. Expertise: letters to Tim -- Ch. 8. Engagement: letters to Mike -- Ch. 9. Empathy: letters to Frank -- Ch. 10. Re-interpreting: deepening understanding of empathetic leadership

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  • Open

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