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My Gift of Authenticity as a Leader

 
Picture of Sonia Hutchison
My Gift of Authenticity as a Leader
by Sonia Hutchison - Thursday, 20 December 2012, 5:59 PM
 

This is what my paper is about, I look forward to your responses:

Authentic Leadership requires vulnerability to beself-aware and be transparent in relationships with those you lead (Gardiner,2011). This paper explores my journey to identify where my values come fromprofessionally as I explore the influences of my education and my career andpersonally as I explore my personal story from being taken into care to carerof my biological mum. I expand my ‘living theory of mindfulness and learning’(Hutchison, 2011) which I have been developing in my practice over a number ofyears exploring my epistemology of dynamic flowing energy. As a leader of a medium sized charity workingwith carers and their families in a small unitary authority this paper exploreshow by my self-awareness and generosity of sharing my story as a gift myleadership is enhanced and is validated as authentic by those I lead. Using a‘methodological inventiveness’ (Dadds and Hart, 2001) I draw upon the cuttingedge of living theory research, multi-media approaches, ethno-autobiographicalnarrative and reflective diaries. I explore where I find evidence andvalidation that I am an authentic leader for the staff, trustees, volunteersand carers I lead and also explore where I find myself a ‘living contradiction’(Whitehead, 1989; Barry, 2012) and how I use this to improve my practice.

Key Words: AuthenticLeadership, Living Theory, Action Research, Gifted and Talented, Living Contradiction, Mindfulness, Carers, Nurturing Responsiveness, Energy-FlowingValues, Dynamic Flowing Energy, Methodological Inventiveness, Multi-MediaApproaches, Ethno-Autobiographical Narrative, Charity, Education, Learning

Branko Bognar
Re: My Gift of Authenticity as a Leader
by Branko Bognar - Sunday, 24 February 2013, 12:43 AM
 

Dear Sonia, I am glad you sent the paper for publishing in EJOLTS and this way you offered your story as a gift in your research to a wider community of researchers. I think that your experiences are very important and could be inspiring for other people who work with carers and who share your values.

In the beginning of your paper you wrote that living theory action research methodology enabled you to effectively research your authenticity as a leader and that you would like to take a methodologically innovative route. I deeply appreciate and support your intention to use methodologically inventive approach in your research. However, to be innovative does not mean nonexistence of structure or to apply existing structure in a just a bit modified way. For example to invent a new kind of vehicle means that this device is different from the known types of machines which are used for transporting persons or things. However, this a new kind of vehicle should have solid structure and it should be functional. It probably would consist of parts which have been previously used in other vehicles, but it must have/contain some distinctive features that it can be considered creative/innovative/different from the older ones. Regarding your paper it would be recommendable to explain in which way your account is organised according to living theory approach and in which way it is different and innovative.

Since you announced using living theory approach I would briefly mention the recommended structure for this approach:

Introduction to the research report

The research story:

· What was my concern?

· Why was I concerned?

· How can I show what the situation was like initially?

· What could I do? What did I do?

· How did I gather data to show ongoing developments?

· What did I find out?

· How could I show that any conclusions I came to were reasonably fair and accurate?

· How could I articulate the significance of my action research?

· How did I modify my ideas and practices in light of my evaluation?

Conclusion. (McNiff & Whitehead, 2009, p. 56)

This framework is explained in details in the mentioned book and in some other resources. In this book you can find additional suggestions how to frame your report:

  1. Action – a largely descriptive story of the action.
  2. Explanation – and explanatory layer offering explanations for the story of the action.
  3. Research – you show how the validity of the story was tested.
  4. Scholarship – you strengthen the validity of the claim through linking it with existing ideas.
  5. Critical reflection – you learn from the action-reflection.
  6. Dialectical critique – you make judgements on the quality of your action, your research, and your own thinking.
  7. Meta-reflection – you say how doing and writing your action research has developed your learning and contributed to the learning of others. (McNiff & Whitehead, 2009, p. 59)

I found that some of those suggestions were achieved in your paper. For example in the introductory part of your paper you pointed out that the paper is about you and you honestly introduced yourself to the reader. It was very important that you mentioned your family background which contributed to better understanding why you chose your vocation, and why it chose you. You also provided some evidences that you live your values in your practice (YouTube video).

However, some important criteria were met partially or were neglected. I would suggest saying something about your professional contexts and the problems you noticed and decided to deal with in your practice. This is connected with taking yourself as a living contradiction and it could finish with articulating your research question. It would be excellent to give insight into initial situation and how you monitored changes you would like to obtain. I consider it is very important to present your actions and learning along with other participants did, thought, and learned in your research. Critical reflection is fundamentally significant for the quality of an action research. Therefore, it is very important to show how you and other participants worked to improve your practice which has to be tightly interlinked with reflections which were recorded in your research diary, videotapes and other data.

To conclude, I would recommend following the structure and criteria of living theory research on which you decided to based your account on. It is particularly important to give us more details (data) and perspectives (different voices) about process of improvements you obtained in your professional situation that were in accordance with your values. Actually, it was your aim too: “How my authenticity as a leader improves my practice and improves the culture of the organisation I lead which improves the support the organisation provides for carers?” I hope that after improvement your paper will be inspirational story about you as an authenticity leader lives educational values in practice and life.



McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2009). Doing and writing action research. Los Angeles; London; New Delhi; Singapore; Washington DC: SAGE.
Picture of Bernie tobin
Re: My Gift of Authenticity as a Leader
by Bernie tobin - Saturday, 16 March 2013, 6:33 PM
 

Dear Sonia,

I would like to express sincere gratitude to you for the opportunity of reading about your continuing enquiry into the development of a living theory of mindfulness as you work on improving your practice as an authentic leader.

As you trace the professional and personal origins of your values I come to appreciate your life-affirming energy as an authentic leader. You state that this “includes the living standard of judgement of nurturing responsiveness (Mounter, 2012), [a] recognition of the importance of recognising oneself as a living contradiction in a re-channelling of energy-flowing values” within your meaning of authenticity as a leader. I would like to have read more about the context of your carer community and to have read about explanations of responsiveness, inclusion and empowerment within your work together. The living theory approach framework (McNiff & Whitehead), which Branko has already recommended, would help you to explain this educational influence on your own learning and on that of the staff, volunteers, trustees, carers and their families in your community as you endeavoured to live your values and beliefs in improving your practice. Branko has outlined where your paper already answers some of these questions and has made very useful suggestions for improvement.

I would be very interested in reading the revised paper, which I know will be an inspirational story about you as an authentic leader living your educational values in practice and life.