The ‘dark side’ of leadership in early childhood education

Melinda Brooker, Tamara Cumming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
1389 Downloads (Pure)


It could be suggested that persistent workforce problems in the early childhood (EC) field in Australia – such as job satisfaction and turnover may be related to ineffective leadership practices, low pay and lack of professional acknowledgement. In this article we report on a small qualitative study completed in 2017, investigating 12 educators’ experiences of what could be described as ‘dark side’ leadership practices. Purposeful sampling was used to select educators who had expressed dissatisfaction with leaders on a Facebook forum for early childhood educators. Findings revealed all of Oplatka’s elements of ‘dark side’ leadership practices and ideologies at work, with the addition of two new types of ‘dark side’ leadership practices – ‘acts of courage’ and ‘meat in the sandwich’. The evidence these data provide of regulatory breaches, discrimination and bullying highlight the critical need for action by employers, regulatory authorities and unions to better support educators and their leaders in their work environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2019


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