Leadership with a Conscience: Educational Leadership as a Moral Science

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Leaders and aspiring leaders are constantly searching for role models who are successful in placing leadership theory into effective practice. This book identifies ten such role models whose heroic leadership behavior is analyzed in order to reveal what particular abilities and skills made them successful and how those attributes can be applied to one’s own leadership practice, whether that be as a classroom teacher, a principal or a superintendent of schools. They are juxtaposed with ten leaders who were effective, but certainly not heroic.

Dr. Palestini points out that effective leaders have been utilizing the same leadership behavior for centuries. He uses this evidence to support the perennial and lasting impact of situational leadership theory which posits that no single way of leading works in all situations. Rather, appropriate leadership behavior depends on the circumstances at a given time. For decades effective managers have been diagnosing the situation, identifying the leadership style or behavior that will be most effective, and then determining whether they can implement the required style.

The leadership behavior of ten heroic leaders ranging from Jane Addams to Warren Buffett, and from Abraham Lincoln to Joe Paterno is examined in this book. The lesson learned from these heroic leaders being that if one wishes to hone one’s current leadership skills or become a future leader, one can learn to do so by reflectively looking to those who have established themselves in history as both effective and heroic leaders, that is, leaders who lead with both mind and conscience.

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About the Author:

Robert H. Palestini is dean emeritus and professor of educational leadership at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also the Director of the Educational Leadership Institute and Center for Urban Catholic Education at SJU. In addition, almost fifty years in the field of education, he has been a science teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools.

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Leadership with a Conscience, explores the need for leaders to develop a leadership framework on both practical and theoretical levels. By examining the leadership behavior of a number of legendary leaders, one can easily trace the success or failure of the leader in relationship to whether he or she adhered to Bolman and Deal’s Four Frames of Leadership, as well as Palestini’s moral frame. This is both fascinating as well as reflective reading for today’s leaders as well as a great springboard for discussion in leadership groups. (Patricia Fadden, I.H.M., President, Immaculata University)

Leadership with a Conscience speaks to the age. As Americans become more concerned about the character and behavior of leaders in business, education, entertainment, sports and public affairs, they fervently seek models of effective leadership that might inform and inspire them and their successors. Drawing on his own experience and his close reading of history and biography, Dr. Palestini examines the characteristics and behaviors manifested by twenty legendary leaders through the lens of both Bolman and Deal’ Four Frames of Leadership as well as his own moral frame (rooted in the principles of the Ignatian Vision); all of which offers a more comprehensive situational leadership theory. Palestini’s book takes a common sense approach to issues of leadership by offering a clear connection between theory and practice that will inform, inspire and encourage leaders to examine their leadership behavior honestly and, hopefully, act accordingly. (Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D, President, Robert Morris University)

There is no better way to learn about leadership than to study great leaders looking for the habits of mind and heart that enabled them to make a difference. That’s just what Robert Palestini does in Leading with a Conscience, taking readers on a journey through the lives of some twenty legendary leaders as diverse, fascinating and instructive as Jane Addams and Warren Buffet at one end of the moral spectrum, and Vladimir Lenin and Bernie Madoff at the other end. Anyone interested in leadership and the lives of emblematic leaders should find much to like in Palestini’s new book. (John Smithson, Interim President, Saint Joseph’s University)

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