Book Review

Leadership, Myth & Metaphor

by Daniel Cherry and Jeffrey Spiegel, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2006, 120 pp. with index, $25.95 softcover

Leadership, Myth & Metaphor: Finding Common Ground to Guide Effective School Change resulted from a three-year professional development project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. More than 250 superintendents and principals participated in the New Hampshire School Administrators Leading with Technology endeavor.

Co-author Daniel Cherry served as the project director, while Jeff Spiegel was the New Hampshire principal in residence for two years to explore “administrators’ core values and intrinsic beliefs through metaphor.”

Program participants were asked to describe their leadership styles in terms of metaphors, which were grouped by the authors under three leadership archetypes: the Touchstone, recognized for expertise and experience; the Advocate, dedicated to a cause beyond self; and the Parent, focusing on an ethic of care.

This book includes essays written by principals describing their leadership. Early on we are introduced to David, a principal who evolves through the three archetypes. A case study follows David as he uses each appropriate leadership metaphor to bring about change. It is particularly interesting to see how David moves his faculty from the victim mythology to that of hero or heroine in solving a scheduling problem.

Finally, each of the three archetypes is anchored to the Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium standards. Readers are asked to compare the leadership of some of the individual metaphors to the standards and then to rate themselves.

Anything that causes administrators to be reflective about their leadership styles is helpful. I found this book instructive and enjoyable as it challenged me to come up with a personal metaphor for my leadership style. I think other readers will feel the same.

Reviewed by Leonard H. Elovitz, chair, educational leadership department, Kean University, Union, N.J.