Leading authentically at the cross-roads of culture and context

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This article explores the difficulties Hong Kong school leaders face in leading authentically and suggests that a key to seeking this authenticity lies in ongoing learning in context. It is divided into three sections. The first section describes the crossroads of reform and culture in Hong Kong schools by illustrating the tension between traditional values and modern reform demands. It concludes that the environment within which Hong Kong leaders lead is best characterized by hybridity and that this makes becoming authentic both important and difficult. The second section asserts that being an authentic leader is not a matter of adopting a model, a series of actions or even a set of beliefs, but is about engaging in a continual learning process. Some of what we know about leadership learning is discussed, as is the importance of accounting for cultural variation when designing learning approaches. The third section outlines and describes a set of generic leadership learning gateways designed to guide the development of authenticity. These gateways underpin a new programme implemented in Hong Kong which consciously aims to allow principals to construct authenticity. Copyright © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-273
JournalJournal of Educational Change
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Walker, A. (2007). Leading authentically at the cross-roads of culture and context. Journal of Educational Change, 8(3), 257-273. doi: 10.1007/s10833-007-9029-7


  • Leadership learning
  • Culture
  • Hong Kong
  • Reform
  • Authentic leadership


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