Book: Imperfect Leadership in Action by @steve_munby & @marieclaire78 via @CrownHousePub

Published by Crown House Publishing

Imperfect Leadership in Action: A practical book for school leaders who know they don’t know it all













  • This is a great book of reference, tips and guidance for leaders who are looking for a foundation for growth and development.
  • The conversation between Steve and Marie-Claire throughout adds balance and authenticity to the book, offered along with case-studies prompts for personal reflections.
  • The ten chapters within book explore key aspects of educational leadership, including self-awareness, empowering teams, and managing ego and acknowledging mistakes.
  • Each chapter concludes with 'exercises to try' help the reader reflect and consider their own leadership style with a focus on improvement.
  • This is a great, readable book full suited for leaders in educational settings, being accessible, informative and a prompt for reflections.

Supported by Crown House Publishing

In most areas of life, perfection is a futile goal. Teaching is no exception to this. Zero-tolerance policies, the elimination of achievement gaps, the insistence that failure is not an option, and impeccable leadership – for most leaders, in most circumstances, these ends are all unattainable. The truth is that we are all imperfect.

When the Covid pandemic first struck in March 2020, schools across the world closed for the majority of their students. Overnight, school leaders had to become oracles of rapidly changing government guidance and they had to help teachers provide remote education to students as well as providing IT support and equipment to those most vulnerable. Many leaders reached out to the community, providing food hampers and checking in on vulnerable children and families. And then of course they had to cope with the losses that continue to affect families across the world, leading school communities through grief, and dealing with the continuing wellbeing crisis affecting students and staff alike.

No development programme could possibly have adequately prepared leaders for the issues and challenges that they faced. They were having to deal with problems that even the most experienced school leaders had never had to deal with before, and there was no rule book or mental map to fall back on.

Although there is no manual for leadership in a crisis, Steve Munby – a proven leader of school districts, of an iconic national organisation for education leadership and of a global education charity – and Marie-Claire Bretherton – a highly experienced school leader and one of the education system’s best collaborators and school improvers – believe there are some general principles of leadership that do apply in times of great uncertainty and that many of these have their roots in the principles of what they call ‘imperfect leadership’ (first coined by Steve in his original book of the same name).

As Steve says, “Being an imperfect leader means that we know we cannot do or know everything, so we have a keen awareness of what is controllable and what is not controllable in the environment and context in which we find ourselves leading.” This is particularly important when leading in a crisis or in times of great uncertainty, and in their new practical book Imperfect Leadership in Action, they outline a mindset that will both help school leaders to lead through a time of crisis and support them throughout their leadership journey.

Being an imperfect leader is not something we can deliberately accomplish, like being a transformational, inspirational or servant leader, for example. Imperfection will happen to us anyway. We cannot avoid it. Imperfect leadership, rather, is about how we handle our imperfections and learn from them, while eliminating or at least mitigating their harmful effects on others.

The book identifies some key attributes and actions that characterise imperfect leaders. Some of these, such as the importance of trust, building relationships and admitting mistakes, are already very familiar in the literature of leadership. Other attributes are more novel and may, momentarily, take the reader aback; making public promises that could come back to haunt you, doing the right thing even when your career prospects are put at risk, and finding the right balance and relationship between power and love in interactions with others – these are all both explained clearly and illustrated practically from both the authors’ own extensive leadership experiences and inspiring case examples of imperfect school leadership from all around the world.

Marie-Claire concludes that, “Being an imperfect leader creates space for learning and growth; it opens up opportunities for others to contribute when we humbly ask for help. It means we can acknowledge mistakes and failures without writing ourselves off. In short, being imperfect as a leader has huge advantages (and the truth is that there is no perfect leader anyway!).”

*RRP Price correct at time of review publication.

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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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