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Leadership & Sustainability

Leadership & Sustainability
System Thinkers in Action

First Edition
  • Michael Fullan - Michael Fullan Enterprises Inc., Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Canada

April 2016 | 136 pages | Corwin

Published in Association with Ontario Principals' Council

Pursue long-term sustainability without jeopardizing short-term results!

As agencies have pushed for greater performance and public accountability over the past two decades, we have seen some incremental improvements. But all too often, experience reveals that these improvements are temporary. Leadership & Sustainability provides a comprehensive examination of what leaders at all levels of the educational system can do to pave the way for large-scale, sustainable reform.

Building on ideas established in his best-selling publication The Moral Imperative of School Leadership, author Michael Fullan confronts a question that has never been addressed before: How do you develop and sustain a greater number of system thinkers in action, or new theoreticians? These proactive system leaders are at the heart of the issue of sustainability, for they are the ones to bring about deeper reform while simultaneously helping to produce other theoreticians working on the same issues.

Linking abstract concepts to concrete examples, this groundbreaking work defines an agenda for the system thinker in action, including eight elements of sustainability that can be applied to any public service or corporate institution:

  • Public service with a moral purpose
  • Commitment to changing the context at all levels
  • Lateral capacity building through networks
  • Intelligent accountability and vertical relationships
  • Deep learning
  • Dual commitment to short-term and long-term results
  • Cyclical energizing
  • The long lever of leadership
Leadership & Sustainability is an engaging and powerful book from one of the world's leading authorities on school change. It provides clear ideas and strategies for achieving deep, sustainable reform in education.  

See Leadership & Sustainability (Multimedia Kit)
About the Author
1. The Starting Point
2. The Intriguing Nature of Sustainability
3. Leadership to the Fore
4. The New Work of Leaders
5. Leadership at the School Level
6. Leadership at the District Level
7. Leadership at the System Level

"Leadership & Sustainability extends and amplifies Fullan's thinking in very powerful and practical ways, by developing a topic that hasn’t seen this kind of elegant, integrative, and comprehensive treatment before. It uses real-world examples and research literature to tackle, head on, the question of sustainability--how organizations move into the future and endure over time, as well as the equally challenging question: what about an organization is worth sustaining long term? Folks who have followed Michael Fullan's work over many years will like this book very much."

Richard Ackerman, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership
The University of Maine

"An ambitious and provocative journey into the complexities and possibilities that arise when leadership and sustainability join."

Roland S. Barth

"Leadership & Sustainability is a critical breakthrough. Michael Fullan has utilized findings from some of the best research and observations in education over the past fifteen years to brilliantly illuminate the challenges of creating schools capable of continuous organic change and improvement."

James P. Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry
Yale University

"Michael Fullan has gone beyond his past research that described the change process so insightfully to a new and exciting exploration of how systems thinking and the 'long lever of leadership' can bring about deep and lasting reforms in schools and schooling. This brand of leadership for sustainability, as described by Fullan, results in the 'deep learning' that enables schools to respond successfully to the revolution in expectations they now face. This new work will both inform and inspire educators to become the 'new theoreticians' whose impact will be felt in their schools every day."

David T. Conley, Director, Center for Educational Policy Research
University of Oregon

"With knowledgeable savvy from both individual leadership and system transformation, and a knack for writing in 'plain-speak,' Fullan helps us understand that it will be 'leadership' (not leaders) that pave the way for great sustainability. His attempt to link abstract concepts to concrete examples of what it looks like in practice was successful."

Theodore B. Creighton, Director, Center for Research and Doctoral Studies
Sam Houston State University

"Efforts at education reform have taken us down a variety of paths, and Michael Fullan has consistently noted the importance of leadership to large-scale reform. In his latest book, Leadership & Sustainability, Fullan makes a solid case that such reform is a complex process involving many variables. Key among these variables is the relationship between leadership and sustainability."

Vincent L. Ferrandino, Executive Director
National Association of Elementary School Principals

"Michael Fullan has been among the most salient international observers of educational change over the past decade. In this book he draws upon a diverse knowledge base in a critical examination of the limitations of current education reform strategies in use around the world. He then answers his own challenge by seeking to identify what it will take to create sustainable educational reform. His approach will be of interest to a broad range of educational leaders, policymakers, and scholars."

Philip Hallinger, Executive Director, College of Management
Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

"While everyone is debating quick-fix reform in education, Michael Fullan sets out a compelling strategy for widespread and lasting improvement. Drawing on experience from around the world and examples at every level, Fullan brilliantly personifies the transformative theorist-in-action that he urges others to be. This book is essential. Don’t leave school without it!"

Andy Hargreaves, Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education
Boston College

"In Leadership & Sustainability Michael Fullan continues to push the edge of what we understand about improving schools on a large scale. His ideas, both provocative and practical, are well worth the attention of educational reformers, policy makers, and practitioners alike."

Kenneth A. Leithwood, Professor and Associate Dean
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

"No one has contributed more to our understanding of leadership and change than Michael Fullan. Leadership & Sustainability continues that tradition--a brilliant analysis of a timely topic."

Thomas J. Sergiovanni, Lillian Radford Professor of Education
Trinity University

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1: The Starting Point

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