Breakout Session 3 - 16th September at 2:40 - 3:20

Developing adaptability and agility in leadership amidst the COVID-19 crisis: Experiences of mid-career school principals

Presenter/s: Venesser Fernandes
Type: Research report
Keywords: Adaptive Leadership, Agile Leadership, Mid-career School Principals
Room: Auaha Hīhī


This research study builds on crisis leadership, adaptive leadership, agile leadership, and emotional intelligence constructs, exploring the leadership approaches undertaken by twenty mid-career principals in Victoria, Australia. The main research question is, “What emotionally intelligent leadership approaches were identified in mid-career school principals during the COVID-19 global pandemic?”

Using a narrative inquiry approach across three temporal points in 2020, storied productions drawn from the findings present four emergent types of emotionally intelligent leadership approaches undertaken by these principals. These leadership approaches are presented as the commander-leader, the conductor-leader, the gardener-leader and the engineer-leader, with each approach demonstrating both organisational leadership approaches and individual leadership styles used by these principals as they led their schools.

The findings highlight the emotionally intelligent leadership approaches mid-career school principals use. These findings have implications for developing emotion training in teacher and principal preparation/professional development programs. The findings present insight into the supports useful for mid-career principals who have completed more than five years of principalship.

This research study fits the conference theme of Leading Well as it uses a unique emotional intelligence approach to understand the invisible labour of school leadership during and after a crisis, highlighting the importance of emotionally intelligent school principalship.


Venesser Fernandes

Dr Venesser Fernandes is the Associate Head for the School of Education, Culture and Society, Faculty of Education, Monash University. She has internationally recognised teaching and research expertise in Educational Leadership and Improvement Studies, having led educational improvement projects in Australia and internationally. In Monash Education, she has worked as a school reviewer and led principal preparation programs for the Department of Education and Training, Victoria. Her work has been published in scholarly and professional publications.