Book Reviews

Blundering Leadership

Missteps by School Administrators

by Tamara Arnott and Gayla Holmgren-Hoeller, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2010, 222 pp., $80 hardcover, $32.95 softcover

In their book Blundering Leadership: Missteps by School Administrators, Tamara Arnott and Gayla Holmgren-Hoeller use real-life examples of some serious mistakes by school administrators, both novices and experienced, as a learning tool.

Arnott is director of program development at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Cambridge, Minn., and Gayla Holmgren-Hoeller is the Minnesota state director for the North Central Association, a regional accrediting body.

They’ve created a practical book for aspiring school administrators as well as those new on the job. The suggestions for how an issue might have been handled better are a great asset. So, too, are the self-inventories at the end of each chapter.

Scenarios carry lighthearted titles such as “Take All the Credit and None of the Blame” and “Do as I Say, Not as I Do,” and the authors present the challenging leadership cases in an almost humorous manner. Many readers will recognize characters involved in the blunders — including the principal who hides behind closed doors to escape controversial issues or difficult decisions.

Most scenarios are drawn from K-12 school leadership ranks.

The usual leadership messages of collaboration, vision, listening and communication are presented in an easygoing way. The last chapter delivers an uplifting message. We can commit some errors and it won’t end the world. That’s an important message worth spreading.

Reviewed by Josephine Nelson Moffett, assistant professor of educational administration, State University of New York at New Paltz