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The heart of the head: the emotional dimension of leadership: an examination and analysis of the role emotional intelligence plays in successful secondary school and academy leadership.

Allen, Wendy


Wendy Allen


Brent, 1949 Davies


Education is currently in the midst of a serious crisis in terms of leadership sustainability, retention, recruitment and succession. There are those who would cite the constant barrage of educational change and reform, along with the over-emphasis on accountability for outcomes, as the major reasons for making the role of headteacher or  principal a less and less attractive career option. However, even under increasingly difficult circumstances, there are still school leaders who continue to do an exceptional job and who are sustained and energized by it while others, facing the same leadership challenges and difficulties, fall by the wayside. This research study explores the role of emotional intelligence in explaining the disparity. The concept of emotional intelligence is a relatively new construct by comparison with cognitive intelligence, providing different insights from traditionally associated measures of intelligence. From the emergence of the construct in the early 1990s to current times much has been written about emotional intelligence in relation to the world of work and effective leadership per se, but far less specifically related to the role it can play in effective school leadership. The research study therefore sets out to root the construct firmly in the world of education by carrying out an extensive review of the literature, using the outcomes to develop a school-based emotional intelligence model of effective school leadership and testing out the credence of the developed model through a comparative study of a number of acknowledged outstanding secondary school and academy headteachers and principals.The thesis is divided into five chapters. The first chapter outlines the purpose of the study that is to determine if emotional intelligence offers a different insight from those traditionally associated with effective school leadership. Further to this, it sets the scene for the exploration of the theoretical framework best suited to the purpose and nature of this research. The second chapter through an examination and review of the literature illustrates the emergence of the differing schools of thought in relation to the emotional intelligence construct and further informs the chosen theoretical framework which supports the development of a model for effective school leadership. Chapter 3 examines the possible research methodologies and approaches and considers the most appropriate forms for investigating the key elements arising from the proposed study. The fourth chapter discusses the research findings from the semi-structured interviews and the comparative outcomes from an integrated thematic analysis of the cases and further informs the developing model for effective school leadership. Chapter 5 provides an evaluation drawing conclusions and recommendations from what has been established through the research and what can be learnt from best practice. How to proceed in successfully sustaining, developing, retaining, and recruiting secondary school and academy leaders now and in the future, and the role the developed model could play in this, are proposed as opportunities for further lines of research.The thesis as a whole not only provides new information on how the challenges and complexities of leading secondary schools and academies can be successfully met and supported, but also offers a practical model for building emotionally intelligent school communities through emotionally intelligent leadership.The primary method of research is semi-structured interviews and the comparative thematic analysis of the findings supported by review of the literature.


Allen, W. (2001). The heart of the head: the emotional dimension of leadership: an examination and analysis of the role emotional intelligence plays in successful secondary school and academy leadership. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Feb 1, 2001


Thesis (1.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2001 Allen, Wendy. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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