There is a clear understanding that leaders of faith-based educational institutions shape the school community’s culture in ways that assist in faith formation. This implicit and explicit focus on faith formation and an alignment with the broader mission of the Catholic Church is foundational to contemplative leadership (Schuttloffel, 1999, 2008). Contemplative leadership practice presumes that a leader’s character, shaped by her/his communities, life stories, and virtues, is a necessary quality for making decisions that contribute to a school’s Catholic identity. Using qualitative research methods, this study explores leadership practice within Catholic schools in Australia, England, and the Netherlands, in order to describe common themes attributed to contemplative practice. Data from this study suggest three common themes in contemplative Catholic school leaders’ decision making: (a) the impact of their personal life stories; (b) their view of leadership as a vocation; and, (c) the priority given to relationships. Generational communities and national culture or regional subcultures emerge as influential special communities that often challenge school leaders. The findings have implications for Catholic higher education that include the following: continuing professional development that fosters the character necessary for contemplative practice, adaptive experiences that support spiritual leadership, and opportunities for ongoing reflection on decision making that leads to Catholic identity formation.
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Schuttloffel, M. J. (2013). Contemplative Leadership Practice: The Influences of Character on Catholic School Leadership. Journal of Catholic Education, 17 (1). http://dx.doi.org/10.15365/joce.1701052013