Complimentary Leadership & Global City Competencies

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Complimentary Leadership & Global City Competencies

“Complimentary Leadership, Itinerary Aesthetics, Improving Practice (CLIAIP): Developing Cross-National Education Study Tours to Support Leadership Development”

Research Brief – Fall, 2014


Phillip A. Smith, M.B.A 



Veronica Holly, M.A.


International Conference on Urban Education 

Montego Bay, Jamaica, November 6-8, 2014



The 21st Century will witness increased connectedness between world cities that control a disproportionate amount of global business (Sassen, 2001). Global cities are often characterized as centers of new ideas and innovation in business, economics, culture and politics.  They also process high-quality educational institutions, renowned universities, international student populations and cutting-edge research facilities.  Global cities also possess large masses of culturally diverse populations that are often housed in economically marginalized communities with education systems often ill equipped to address many of their needs.

These urban school systems have sort innovative ways to aggressively educate many of its marginalized students with skills that will make them competitive for a 21st century global economy. Unfortunately however, many urban education leaders are not being adequately prepared to lead in diverse contexts, challenge economic inequalities, or recognize the effects of globalization on the lives of their students and communities (Merryfield, 2000). The formal training and professional development of such leaders is an important factor in improving the overall quality and effectiveness of “global city” schools.

The increasing complex nature and operation of schools has necessitated an unprecedented change in the range of skills, expertise and other required professional attributes of the 21st century school principal and senior school leader. What has become somewhat of a global phenomenon, the measure of effectiveness of the contemporary urban school leader extends beyond oversight of classroom pedagogy, teaching, and instruction, to encompass an extensive range of adaptive challenges (Rousmaniere, 2013; Drago-Severson, Blumn-DeStefano & Asghar, 2013). Today’s school leaders need to be cognizant of, and engaged with, research and exemplars of critical pedagogy and educational leadership practices.

It is against this backdrop that many federal/national and state/local education authorities across major global city jurisdictions have sought new and innovative strategies to improve succession planning, induction and development of senior school leaders. These leadership development opportunities are borne out of an acknowledgment and commitment of governing education and school authorities to maximize the utility of education and schooling as a vehicle to improve social justice, equity, and equality of service provision.


Whilst the use of education study tours as part of teacher and school leaders preparation and development is not a new phenomenon (consider Miller & Potter, 2014), our Complimentary Leadership Itinerary Aesthetics Improving Practice (CLIAIP) model represents an innovative approach to the leadership development of urban school principals. The model builds on the body of existing school leadership research by adding a responsible leadership and practice perspective (Pless, Maak & Stahl, 2011, Leithwood et al, 2008) and examines aspects of the intentionality of urban study tour itinerary aesthetics, which focuses close attention to the shared context, assets, and challenges that global cities possess.

Using Pless, Maak, & Stahl’s (2011) theoretic framework on Leadership Competencies as a guide, this research delineates the intersection between Responsible Leadership Competencies and Global Leadership Competencies, and the mediating itinerary formation that works to promote effective education study tours. Global leadership differs significantly from leadership in a domestic context, mainly that the global context includes both cultural intelligence as well as a global mind-set (Pless et al, 2011). Cultural Intelligence, or the knowing, sensitivity and empathy of other cultures is an essential prerequisite of effective global leadership, and Pless et al. (2011) couple this intellect with the complexity of having a cosmopolitan mind-set. Such leadership is characterized by a diverse setting; frequent boundary expansion within and across organizations and nations; need for broad knowledge; an increase in stakeholder decision makers; expanded challenges on and off the job; heightened ambiguity surrounding outcomes; and increases ethical dilemmas pertaining to globalization.

Within the context of educational leadership, and development of school principals and headteachers specifically, responsible and global leadership competencies may constitute a thorough and appreciative understanding of the socio-economic contexts within which the school operates, the socio-economic histories of the student population as well as the wider communities that the school serves. This needs to extend beyond a knowledge of the local habitus of the school, serve increasing numbers of students with transient, transcultural identities. Therefore, it is incumbent on the school leader, principal, or headteacher to not only be cognizant of the multidimensionality of a student’s identity but  also to seek to garner knowledge and expertise from models of best practice in similar, and not so similar urban contexts. The well, and intentionally planned cross-national study tour leadership development opportunity effectively brokers this cross-fertilization and sharing of best education practice.


This research illustrates how the initial goals and objectives of the touring congregation merged with the visiting host organization, creating responsible leadership competencies that aided in the school leaders professional growth. Our preliminary findings suggest that the host organization played a pivotal role designing an itinerary that: (1). instigated a comprehensive understanding of urban education assets and challenges; (2). included reflective practice, facilitated stakeholder engagement and relationship building; (3). aided in the internalization of global ideas and  new principles, and (4).promoted respect for the teaching and learning of their shared diverse student populations and settings. In this model such competencies are mediated by the host organization’s itinerary, which serves as community builder.

Our preliminary research findings suggest six key implications for further research and cross-national study tour praxis.  We find that effective cross-national study tours should:

  • Showcase affirming spaces, concepts and practices that take place in schools and outside of school that educate large populations of that nation’s marginalized students.
  • Include research supported contextual understandings of the assets and challenges such marginalized schools and students face.
  • Showcase innovative ideas and policy initiatives that address shared challenges.
  • Showcase ethnically diverse leaders who champion social justice.
  • Include multiple stakeholders who hold common beliefs.
  • Provide guidance and moments for leaders to collectively reflect on their personal, professional and ethical development.



The research and development of the CLIAIP model of leadership development is at an early stage. Further substantive research will be conducted to both explore and expand the theoretical framework and model as follows:

  • The socio-economic contexts, histories, and cultural influences in relation to leadership competencies that impact on the development of principals and headteachers.
  • Strategies to support school leaders to identify and understand cultural influences on self and teachers and how a deeper appreciation of one owns cultural identity, particularly within the context of school climate, may inform a more cognizant understanding of student identities.
  • Develop a methodological framework consisting of pre and post approach to assess the value and impact of the CLIAIP study tour model, and use of interviews to explore the relevant or valuable components of the model.
  • Explore the extent to which the CLIAIP model facilities self-discovery and personal articulation of leadership in student of improved student outcomes amongst participating principals and school leaders.



Drago-Severson, E., Blum-DeStefano, J., Asghar, A. (2013). Learning for leadership:  Developmental strategies for building capacity in our schools. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc.

Merryfield, M. M. (2000). Why aren't teachers being prepared to teach for diversity, equity, and global interconnectedness? A study of lived experiences in the making of multicultural and global educators. Teaching and teacher education, 16(4), 429-443.

Miller, P., & Potter, I. (2014). Teacher CPD across borders: Reflections on how a study tour to England helped to change practice and praxis among Jamaican teachers. International Journal of Education and Practice, 2(1), 9-20.

Rousmaniere, K. (2013). The principal’s office: a social history of the American school principals, New York: State University of New York Press.

Pless, M.N, Maak, T., & Stahl, G.K (2011).  Developing responsible global leaders through international service-learning programs:  The Ulysses Experience. 10 (2), 237-260.

Sassen, S. (2001). The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton University Press.