Dr Howard Youngs

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Director International Development; Senior Lecturer

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 9633

Email: howard.youngs@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:

AUT University School of Education,
AR Building, Akoranga Campus,
90 Akoranga Drive, Northcote, Auckland 0627.

Postal Address:

AUT University, School of Education,
Private Bag 92006,
Auckland 1142,
New Zealand.


  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • Master of Educational Management (Hons.)
  • Diploma in School Management
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Secondary)
  • Certificate in School Middle Management.

Memberships and Affiliations:


Howard's focus since the early 2000s has been postgraduate teaching, research, professional learning and development facilitation in leadership, mainly in the area of education. Howard joined AUT in 2014 after working at Unitec Institute of Technology, led the redevelopment of AUT's Master of Educational Leadership and now holds a portfolio for International Relations and Development in the School of Education.

He supervises  doctoral and master’s level students in the area of leadership.  His experience, prior to teaching and supervising at postgraduate level, was largely shaped through teaching and managing in secondary schools, followed by a shorter period as a lecturer in pre-service primary and secondary teacher education.

A constant thread through Howard's journey is the importance of leadership practice in education, be it focused on enhancing the conditions of learning and teaching, staff relations, teams, distributed forms of leadership, systems and/or organisational culture. The focus of his current research, writing and facilitation of professional learning is in the area of leadership-as-practice and collaborative spaces. Over the last few years, Howard’s focus has broadened beyond the education context to also include work in the Leadership Studies field.

Howard values and employs a co-constructivist approach to professional learning and development in New Zealand and ASEAN nations, rather than draw on pre-designed 'off-the-shelf' packages. He is a Ministry of Education accredited facilitator who draws on a wide range of leadership and development knowledge and adapts it to fit the culture and needs of the teachers, leaders and schools he works with. Much of his current engagement with schools is related to creating and maintaining conditions conducive to collaborative inquiry, communities of practice and reflective practice that go beyond superficial teacher and leader engagement. This also reflects his approach when facilitating Higher Education executive and middle leadership development.

Howard's current research and writing about leadership reflects his approach to analysing practice (usually labelled as leadership) that prioritises the complexities of day-to-day events rather than a simplified role based and leader-follower position. The resultant focus on practice adds to the contextualised approach Howard brings to his facilitation of professional learning and development.

Teaching Areas:

  • Conceptualisations of Educational Leadership (MEdL)
  • Leadership and teacher development in ASEAN nations

Research Areas:

  • Distributed and shared forms of leadership
  • Leadership-as-practice (L-A-P)
  • Leadership of learning
  • Leadership, leader and staff development
  • ASEAN education development
  • Communities of practice/learning
  • Group development and relations.

Research Summary:

Howard's PhD on distributed forms of school leadership critiqued the notion of distributed leadership so that a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of day-to-day leadership practice could emerge. This was achieved through taking a sociological and critical perspective to understand observations of leadership practice. He has since developed this work to also embrace the emerging leadership-as-practice approach from the wider leadership studies field as well as focus on how communities of learning develop within and across organisations.

In addition to this, his earlier research studies include: servant leadership in higher education; teacher appraisal; school governance leadership in New Zealand schools; and, leadership development which highlights his methodological interest in mixed methods research approaches. The focus on leadership development included two Ministry of Education research evaluation contracts for the National Aspiring Principals' (NAPP) and Experienced Principals Development (EPD) programmes. A more recent research project was carried out with Associate Professor Ross Notman from the University of Otago and focused on the application and effectiveness of the Ministry of Education's Educational Leadership Practices (ELP) tool. The project was specifically contextualised in New Zealand secondary schools. Another recent New Zealand project was published which focused on Saul Taylor’s (whom Howard supervised) national study of leadership preparation and pipeline issues for educators of the Deaf.

Current Research Projects:

Howard is currently working on a five year collaborative research project with Dr Patricia Stringer (AUT) and Maggie Ogram (Osprey Consulting) where the focus is on leadership and teacher collaborative inquiry within and across a network of schools.
He is also working with Dr Adrian Schoone (AUT) on stories of transformation with Indonesian Vocational Secondary teachers.


In 2019, Howard is planning to attend the Academy of Management Meeting in Boston, MA and later in the year the International Studying Leadership conference in Bristol, England. He will be on a research sabbatical in the second half of 2019.

As with 2018, his ASEAN development work will involve some travel, the first being to Thailand and Vietnam, related to leadership teaching to business students, leadership development and teacher development on behalf of the AUT School of Education.


  • Cardno, C. & Youngs, H. (2013). Leadership development for experienced New Zealand principals: Perceptions of effectiveness. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 41(3), 256-271.
  • Fitzgerald, T., Youngs, H. & Grootenboer, P. (2003). Bureaucratic control or professional autonomy: Performance management in NZ schools. School Leadership & Management, 23(1), 91-105.
  • Notman, R. & Youngs, H. (2016). Researching and evaluating secondary school leadership in New Zealand: The Educational Leadership Practices Survey. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 31(2), 108-120.
  • Ogram, M. & Youngs, H. (2014). The expectation and the reality: Issues of sustainability and the challenges for primary principals in leading learning. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 29(1), 17-27.
  • Piggot-Irvine, E., Bruce Ferguson, P. & Youngs, H. (2009). Inspired to aspire – Evaluation of the MoE NAPP. Auckland: Unitec Institute of Technology.
  • Piggot-Irvine, E. & Youngs, H. (2011). Aspiring Principal Development Program Evaluation in New Zealand. Journal of Educational Administration, 49(5), 513-541.
  • Raelin, J., Kempster, S., Youngs, H., Carroll, B. & Jackson, B. (2018). Practicing leadership-as-practice in context and manner. Leadership, 14(3), 1-13. doi: 10.1177/1742715017752422
  • Robinson, F., Piggot Irvine, E., Youngs, H., & Cady, P. (2018). Struggling to achieve desired results from your AR projects? Insights from the Evaluative Study of Action Research may help. Educational Action Research, 1-20. doi:10.1080/09650792.2018.1544916
  • Taylor, S. & Youngs, H. (2018). Leadership succession. Future-proofing pipelines. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 23(1), 71-81. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enx037
  • Youngs, H. (2020). Distributed leadership. In R. Papa (Ed.), [Oxford] Encyclopedia of Educational Administration. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. (accepted for publication)
  • Youngs, H. (2017). (Re)positioning the distributed turn in leadership.  In G. Lakomski, S. Eacott & C.W. Evers (Eds.) Questioning leadership: New  directions for educational organisations (pp. 139-150). London, England:  Routledge.
  • Youngs, H. (2017). A critical exploration of collaborative and distributed leadership in higher education: Developing an alternative ontology  through leadership-as-practice. Journal of Higher Education Policy and  Management, 39(2), 140-154. doi:10.1080/1360080X.2017.1276662.
  • Youngs, H.  (2015). The application of analytical  tools for understanding shared leadership. International Leadership Association 17th  Annual Global Conference, Leading  Across Borders and Generations, 14-17 October, Centre Convencions Internacional  Barcelona (CCIB), Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. View  online
  • Youngs, H. (2014). Moving beyond distributed leadership to distributed forms: A contextual and sociological analysis of two New Zealand secondary schools. Leading & Managing, 20(2), 88-103.
  • Youngs, H. (2011). The school leadership and student outcomes Best Evidence Synthesis: Potential challenges for policy-makers, practitioners and researchers. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 26(1), 16-27.
  • Youngs, H. (2009). (Un)Critical times: Re-situating distributed leadership in the field. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 41(4), 377-389
  • Youngs, H. (2008). Distributed leadership: a complex concept. Australian Council for Educational Leaders: Perspectives on educational leadership, 4.
  • Youngs, H. (2007). 'There and back again': My unexpected journey into ‘Servant’ and ‘Distributed’ Leadership. Journal of Educational Administration and History, 39(1), 97-109.
  • Youngs, H. (2005). Navigating the interface of governance and management: A national study of School Board Chair leadership capability. New Zealand Association of Research in Education Conference, Dunedin.
  • Youngs, H. (2004). Self-care, security and the practice of servant leadership: Growing the inner landscape of educational leaders. New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society Conference, Dunedin.
  • Youngs, H. (2003). Getting to the heart of servant leadership: An exploration of multi-strategy methodology. Proceedings of the Australian Association of Research in Education and New Zealand Association of Research in Education Conference, Auckland. View online.
  • Youngs, H. & Cardno, C. (2015). Features of effective leadership development provision for experienced New Zealand principals. International Studies in Educational Administration, 43(2), 53-67.
  • Youngs, H., Cardno, C., Collins, J., Howse, J., Harvie. L. & Bush, T. (2010). Evaluation report: Experienced Principal Development Program – New Zealand Ministry of Education. Auckland: Unitec Institute of Technology.
  • Youngs, H., Cardno, C. & Smith, A. with France, C. (2007). Governance leadership in New Zealand schools: The perceptions of board chairs in relation to their role and development needs. Leading & Managing, 13(1), 49-65.
  • Youngs, H. & Grootenboer, P. (2003). Primary and secondary teachers' perceptions of their appraisal: Implications for school leaders. New Zealand Journal of Educational Leadership, 18, 77–90.
  • Youngs, H. & Piggot-Irvine, E. (2014). The merits of triangulation. SAGE Research Methods Cases. View online.
  • Youngs, H. & Piggot-Irvine, E. (2012). The application of a multiphase triangulation approach to mixed methods: The research of an aspiring school principal development program. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 6(3), 184-198.


  • AUT Faculty of Culture and Society Leadership Award (2016)
  • Recipient of Programme Director Award (2008)
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