Research in educational leadership and management, while comprehensive in its scope and direction, has considerable imbalances that have contributed to what Blackmore (1999) has termed the monoculture of the powerful. The focus on the apparent intractability of leadership as a male domain and ways in which women have negotiated the gendered nature of their professional lives has provided opportunities for debate and the emergence of (oppositional) discourses that account for women's ways of knowing and leading. Yet, as this article argues, these discourses of privilege and opportunity have not accounted for trajectories of ethnicity and diversity. The critique of Western ethnocentric notions of leadership presented in this article is informed by debates on issues such as gender and educational leadership that have produced meta-narratives that explore and explain women and men's ways of leading. One of the troubling aspects of Western leadership theories is the claim that the functions and features of leadership can be transported and legitimated across homogenous educational systems. Despite changes that have been made in definitions and descriptions of educational leadership to provide a focus on gender, there is the implicit assumption that while educational leadership might be practised differently according to gender, these discourses essentially remain both raced and classed. Thus, the construct of educational leadership needs to be more broadly theorised in order for cross-cultural discourses to emerge.