Leadership in the School Settings the Concept Research Paper

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 8
  • Subject: Leadership
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #66661169

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Leadership in the School Settings

The concept of distributed leadership in the educational setting

The application of distributed leadership in a middle school setting

The benefits of distributed leadership

Servant leadership

In this paper, we present an analysis of servant leadership as well as distributed leadership as well as a description of how they can be used in the educational settings. The paper presents an elaborate discussion of how one might implement an initiative around servant leadership using distributed leadership. The paper we present an essay on how to apply servant leadership along with distributed leadership to an organization such as a public middle school. The methods of measuring the impacts as well as the potential benefits of the initiative are also presented. The specific outcomes of the initiative are then presented. A clear identification of the limitations of existing theories of leadership and opportunities for future research for servant leadership are also presented.The paper concludes that servant leadership and distributed leadership are key concepts that can transform the contemporary middle school setting for better outcomes.


The educational reform in the contemporary educational setting has placed a strong emphasis on the relationship between leadership and the act of school improvement. There seems to be a general consensus that leaders have an indirect and yet very powerful influence on the level of effectiveness of various schools. Their influence also affects the level of student's achievement (Leithwood and Jantzi, 2000).For these reasons, the concept of leadership has over the years generated a lot of interest among practitioners and researchers a like. Several literatures exist on leadership theory and school leadership (Hallinger and Heck, 1996). In this paper, we present an essay on how to apply servant leadership along with distributed leadership to an organization such as a public middle school.

Models of leadership in the school settings

There are various models of leadership that are applicable in to the school settings. The differences between some of these models are not very clear. For instance, the concepts of pedagogical leadership, learner-centered leadership as well as instructional leadership are not obvious. It has been indicated that most of the existing literature have failed miserably in accurately reflecting the leadership practice in our schools since they have mainly relied on the head-teacher accounts in the definition of effective leadership in practice (Razik and Swanson, 2001). A critical review of leadership literature reveals that with just a few exceptions, there is a general lack of empirical studies on the concept of leadership practice at various levels (Day et al., 2000).This as resulted in the scrutiny of the models of leadership as well as the underlying premise on which they are based upon (Goleman, 2002).

The concept of distributed leadership in the educational setting

The concept of distributed leadership has of late received a great deal of attention as well as an increased level of support in the educational discourse as pointed out by Spillane (2006).

The concept of distributed leadership has been shown to provide on of the best theoretical frameworks necessary for examining the concept of leadership practice. The concept is however relatively new and therefore lacks a general and yet widely accepted definition. There is also a general lack of empirical research in this regard (Timperley, 2005; Bennett, Harvey, Wise & Woods, 2003).

In most countries, the roles of school principals has continued to have continued to increase in intensity and complexity as a result of the numerous ideological reforms that have been introduced in the educational arena. Most literature however have indicated that the leadership by school principals play important roles in the improvement of schools (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000). It is for this reason that several practitioners and scholars have engaged themselves in debate and research that goes beyond mere principalship in order to identify as well as examine the various leadership perspectives that view the concept of school leadership (Yukl, 2002) as process of social influence (.p. 14).

Even though there is a general lack of evidential research in the context of distributed leadership, the work of Spillane (2006) has provide done of the most recent and yet highly illustrative data in empirical form on the application of distributed leadership to the educational setting. In his work he adopted a perspective with a cognitive viewpoint. He adopted this cognitive viewpoint in order to prescribe the concept of distributed leadership as one of the best design and diagnostic tools that can help head teachers in exploring how leadership concept can be stretched over multiple followers and leaders in a school setting ( p.23).

By means of illustrative examples, Spillane (2006) indicated that the concept of distributed leadership can be regarded as a suitable alternative thought on leadership in our schools through a process of foregrounding of leadership practice as well as by suggesting that the concept of leadership practice is dependent on the successful interaction between various leaders, followers as well as situations. Distributed leadership therefore provides one of the best frameworks for analyzing the concept of leadership in a totally different angle.

The concept of distributed leadership has therefore been in the forefront of most leadership literature (Angela,2010). It is worth noting that unlike other studies that have a focus on the individual, the studies on distributed leadership critically examines the idea of an emergent property of individuals who are actively interacting. In fact distributed leadership was defined by Smylie, Mayrowetz, Murphy, & Seashore Louis (2007) as the sharing, the spreading, and the distributing of leadership work across individuals and roles across the school organization." Halverson (2006) and Hartley (2007) pointed out that the concept of community building as well as the complexity of the idea of leadership in regard to accountability as well as relationship between distributed leadership and school improvement have been regarded as some of the greatest discussions in regard to educational reforms. Once again, it is worth noting that there has a been a lot of discussions in this regards but with very little empirical evidence to validate the claims of applying distributed leadership in practice.

Distributed leadership is a concept which is often misunderstood. Watson & Scribner (2007) pointed out that the delegation of tasks as well as the division of responsibilities in accordance to individual roles does not translate to a distributed leadership style. According to them, they found out that most schools that claim to employ the concept of distributed leadership are actually involved in activities that only adds up to the delegation of responsibilities without necessarily passing on the very important element of authority that has traditionally been invested on the people who perform such duties (Watson & Scribner,2007,p.261).

Angela (2010) pointed out that distributed leadership is important since it moves beyond the basic concept of a charismatic leader who is involved in the transformation of an organization to that of a leader who is somehow "stretched over" several individuals in a given organization. In organizations that apply the concept of distributed leadership, the tasks of leadership are carried out via a complex and yet coordinated interaction of several individual leaders (Angela,2010). The coordinated interaction of the members of an organization forms one of the most important characteristics of distributed leadership. The other important aspect of distributed leadership is the context within which the interactions take place. Smylie et al. (2007) used terms like leadership sharing, distribution as well as spreading that involves multiple actors cutting across multiple duties/roles as well as multiple levels of a school organization (p.475).

The application of distributed leadership in a middle school setting

The work of Angela (2010) indicated that the concept of distributed leadership can be employed as an effective model in the running of middle schools. In her work she indicated that for the concept of distributed leadership to work, three preconditions must be met. These include collaborative culture, expertise on learning and teaching as well as consensus of the problems facing the given organization. He work also indicated that the following conditions form the basis for a successful implementation of distributed leadership;

1. Good leadership practices which support the existing organizational structure

2. An atmosphere of trust that leads to the strengthening of organizational culture

3. A positive relationship which acts as the very foundation for the affiliations within the organization.

The benefits of distributed leadership

Distributed leadership has been noted by Wright (2008) to have several benefits. He provided the benefits of Spinalle's (2006) concept of distributed leadership. Spinalle (2006) challenged the bureaucratic and positivistic theories of leadership by emphasizing on the need for specialized roles, unilateral functions as well as certain behavioral traits. He presented his opinion that viewed leadership as an process which is shared within a social setting in which intentional influence is gently exerted by the leaders as well as followers over other persons in order to structure the activities as well as relationships in a given organization or group. There has been a lot of dissatisfaction in the recent past with the instructional models of…

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