Open-to-learning™ Leadership

Open-to-learning™ Leadership and the theory on which it is based has a 30 year history of empirical and theoretical research on the effectiveness of theories of action that people bring to the discussion of perceived interpersonal and performance problems. This evidence means that the professional learning rests on sound evidence about how people reason in such situations, how that reasoning can impede progress, and how more effective patterns of thought and action can be learned.

The Open-to-learning™ Leadership approach to leadership development teaches participants how to build trust in teams and with individuals, while tackling the tough issues associated with the work of school and teacher performance and improvement. Calls for more instructional leadership by principals and senior and middle leaders will not be heeded unless educational leaders have the confidence and skills needed to engage with teachers and parents in productive and respectful conversations about issues affecting the quality of teaching and learning. There is considerable empirical and theoretical evidence to suggest that such conversations are either avoided or less effective than intended (Pajak & Arrington, 2004; Robinson & Le Fevre, 2011; Yariv, 2009).


The origins of the Open-to-learning™ Leadership approach lie in the work of Chris Argyris (Harvard University) and Donald Schön, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who are the originators of the well-known concepts of theory of action; single and double loop learning and Model 1 and Model 2. Distinguished Professor Robinson, who was one of their students, has adapted and developed their work for use in what she calls Open-to-learning™ Leadership and Open-to-learning Conversations™. It is this approach that she and a team of accredited University of Auckland Centre for Educational Leadership facilitators have used in Australia, and several other countries, to help leaders make progress with interpersonal and performance issues that they had believed to be intractable. An extensive and ongoing research programme continues to provide evidence about the need for and impact of training in Open-to-learning™ Leadership.