Toward a new conceptualization of vision in the work of educational leaders: Cases of the visionary archetype

Rose M. Ylimaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: Across mainstream educational leadership literature, the term vision has had two primary definitions: (a) a leader's image of the future and (b) change goals. Translating vision into practice has become increasingly difficult, however, as educators have been bombarded with conflicting images and goals for schools. This article is conceptual in nature, using the findings from a previous empirical study of collaboration and instructional leadership to propose a new way of thinking about vision in terms of the work of educational leaders. Proposed Conceptual Argument: The leaders' notions of vision suggest principles of the visionary archetype that have not been considered in the extant literature, including four ways of seeing (intuition, perception, insight, and holistic seeing). Thus, literature on the visionary archetype is used as a lens to conceptualize these leaders' notions of vision. Metaphors are used to present three cases of the visionary archetype and change contexts in which the visionary appears to exist. A discrepant case metaphor is also presented in which a curriculum director defined and used vision more traditionally. Based on these understandings, the author suggests a new conceptualization of vision - namely, that vision is a dynamic interaction among inner human resources (e.g., insight, intuition, and perception), an outward perspective (on larger educational ideals, research, and policies), and the context of a particular visioning situation. Implications: The article concludes with implications for future research on the role of vision in other educator roles and settings as well as recommendations for vision makers of all kinds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-651
Number of pages32
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Accountability
  • Change
  • Educational leadership
  • Vision
  • Visionary archetype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Administration


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