Distributed leadership in successful schools
AuthorNicholas, Darren Matthew
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Darren Matthew Nicholas
The key aims of this research were to investigate distributed leadership in successful schools, to examine the extent to which this contributes to school success, and whether there are any identifiable patterns of distributed leadership within successful schools. This study used a mixed methods research approach through the use of social network analysis and individual interviews to explore distributed leadership in three successful Australian secondary schools. A social network analysis was conducted through a school relationships survey to identify the patterns of connections within each school. Eight questions about work connections were asked of all teaching staff in each school, with achieved survey response rates of 51 per cent, 61 per cent and 63 per cent respectively. From the social network analysis well connected and influential leaders were identified and then invited to participate in semi-structured interviews. Twenty-six individuals were interviewed, including the three principals, four assistant principals, 15 leading teachers, three teachers with responsibility and one teacher. The semi-structured interviews were used to provide information on distributed leadership at the organisational level, the forms that it took, and what factors impacted it. The interviews also contributed to understanding the practice of leaders in a distributed leadership context, and provided insight into the individual characteristics of influential leaders and what factors impacted their influence within schools. Distributed leadership was identified in each of the three schools and was found to be influenced by two aspects of the schools. Firstly, organisational level factors, including leadership structure, the school’s strategic goals and planning, influenced distributed leadership in terms of what was distributed and who it was distributed to. Secondly, leader influence and capacity to distribute leadership was influenced by interpersonal factors including leader expertise, professional relationships, behaviours that are supportive of other people and the development of trust. A Distributed Model of Influence was developed which allows the extent of an individual’s influence to be mapped from knowledge of their positional power and personal connectiveness. The study contributes to knowledge about successful school leadership, distributed leadership and leadership in general.
KeywordsDistributed leadership; leadership; successful schools; leader influence; distributed model of influence
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