The world is becoming one interconnected place where events do not happen in isolation, and organizations are faced with an evolving context. In this paper, the term quicksilver is used to describe an environment that is fluid, uncertain, complex and sometimes ambiguous. Such an environment demands that leader's demonstrate agility of the mind and actions. In a quicksilver environment the spoils go to the creative and not to the compliant; leaders who maximize their conceptual agility and their organization's adaptability and flexibility; and organizations that focus on metrics, learning, self management and adaptability. In this paper we describe the nature of the environment in which school leaders work-the quicksilver world. Then we identify the two difference makers: Agility and Artistry. Finally we present the results of several studies we conducted in the Hong Kong context to test the hypotheses that in times of uncertainty and ambiguity, leaders who are more cognitively and behaviorally complex will be more able to navigate quicksilver than those who are not so skilled.
This study aims to develop an empowerment program to support school leaders as change agents to cope with the global and local challenges. The action research of design-implementation-reflection cycle was used to develop a 4-day workshop. The design phase involved cross-border collaboration of multiple agencies. After data collection, four learning modules were identified: visionary leadership and innovation, systems and strategic thinking, curriculum and instructional leadership, and social capital and collective capacity building. The two-session workshop was held in 2012 and each involved 30 participants respectively. The leadership emphasized situated, problem-based, goal-oriented, and outcome-focused together with teamwork. The evaluation data of the program included Facebook messages, survey, and focus group interviews in the end of the workshop. The findings showed the 4-day workshop was effective in terms of changing participants’ mindsets, developing systems and strategic thinking, and adopting new knowledge and skills for instructional leadership and capacity building. Nevertheless, the participants suggested that additional time for group discussion and reflection was also addressed to consolidate the situated learning experiences. The social network of seed principals was established right after the program to build social capital for school leaders. Through the border-crossing collaboration among educational institutions and NGOs, this leadership empowerment program has proved itself a valuable innovation for professional development of principals in Taiwan.
This paper presents some findings of a qualitative study on the experiences and perspectives of Chinese university executives who participated in the two-week 2013 China Australia Executive Leadership Program in Australia. An in-depth, semi-structured interview approach was utilized to explore their experiences of the program and observations of comparative strengths and challenges of both higher education systems. Five university Vice Presidents were interviewed individually in their host university. The findings show that the program was valuable and enabled them to explore the leadership challenges and future development in teaching, research and higher education management across both China and Australia. The cross-border leadership development experiences enhanced their intercultural learning and understanding about the Australian higher education in general and institutional practices in the host university. The program also provided an opportunity for them to critically examine the differences and similarities between two higher education systems, and reflect upon their leadership practices and institutional procedures. They cautioned against indiscriminate borrowing and highlighted the importance of reciprocal learning and adapting new insights to the Chinese cultural and institutional contexts. The paper discusses the implications of cross-border executive leadership development model in the Asian century.
The traditional role of a mentor has been to assist novice teachers to fit into school culture and the teaching profession. The quest for accountability, however, has been shifting the role of mentor to becoming administratively oriented. This paper applies a qualitative research approach to generate views about the impact of accountability on their roles from 33 mentors who were participants of a mentor training program from 2009 to 2013. Findings firstly show that mentors still firmly hold the view that they are facilitators of the professional growth of their mentees. Secondly, the accountability mindset fuels a formalization of their mentoring relationship that makes their role more official and structured. Thirdly, mentors have to act as gatekeepers to attempt to close the gap between external accountability and internal accountability. Viewing this, equipping mentors with a sense of extended professionalism may help them to balance their roles in the context of accountability.