High performance leadership in unusually challenging educational circumstances


  • Andy Hargreaves
  • Alma Harris




This paper draws on findings from the results of a study of leadership in high performing organizations in three sectors. Organizations were sampled and included on the basis of high performance in relation to no performance, past performance, performance among similar peers and performance in the face of limited resources or challenging circumstances. The paper concentrates on leadership in four schools that met the sample criteria.  It draws connections to explanations of the high performance ofEstoniaon the OECD PISA tests of educational achievement. The article argues that leadership in these four schools that performed above expectations comprised more than a set of competencies. Instead, leadership took the form of a narrative or quest that pursued an inspiring dream with relentless determination; took improvement pathways that were more innovative than comparable peers; built collaboration and community including with competing schools; and connected short-term success to long-term sustainability.


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How to Cite

Hargreaves, A., & Harris, A. (2015). High performance leadership in unusually challenging educational circumstances. Eesti Haridusteaduste Ajakiri. Estonian Journal of Education, 3(1), 28–49. https://doi.org/10.12697/eha.2015.3.1.02b