Making sense of leadership development: developing a community of education leaders

Catherine McCauley-Smith, Sharon J. Williams, Anne Clare Gillon, Ashley Braganza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In education literature there is a distinct lack of scholarly work on issues of leadership other than on functional leadership at lower levels or high-level individual leadership activity which dominates existing studies. This empirical research is based on the result of a merger of education providers within the North East of England. A crucial aspiration of the newly merged organisation was to provide an overarching innovative leadership structure to facilitate integrated leadership. The specific focus of this article is participants of a bespoke postgraduate learning intervention. The authors apply sense-making theory to identify how student-leaders undertaking a leadership development intervention developed to become a community of education leaders. The reflective accounts of the student-leaders indicated a combined approach of distributed, shared and collaborative leadership. Whilst the study was conducted in the UK, the concepts and ideas are likely to have international application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-328
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2015


  • leadership development
  • postgraduate higher education
  • sense making
  • leadership


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