Personal Reflection of Distributional Leadership
towards the School Context
For the purpose of this essay I will be discussing distributed leadership and its implications in the educational setting. In my experience so far I have noticed aspects of this style becoming prominent in some areas of school life and university. I will use this experience of distributed leadership to reflect upon my own leadership skills in relation to my opinions and those embedded recent literature. It is noted, however, the term distributed leadership has many forms described in literature and definitions vary (Harris 2008). More interestingly, this assignment will attempt to analyse the affect influence and power has on distributing leadership and its implications. It will also examine research (Leithwood & Jantzi, 2000; Silins & Mulford, 2002; Harris and Muijs, 2004; Spillane & Camburn, 2006; Leithwood, et al. 2007), in order to analyse the benefits and implications of this style towards the school and its community. Moreover, it will attempt to criticise contemporary literature by evaluating the negative aspects of distributed leadership.
Firstly, it could be argued that various forms of distributed leadership inevitably exist within the school context (Gronn, 2000; Timperley, 2005; Spillane, 2006). Furthermore, the creation of competition between schools, along with the pressure in meeting performance targets, has increased the workload for headteachers. Therefore, headteachers are becoming increasingly dependent on their teachers as leaders in helping to implement government changes and spread this complex workload (Gronn, 2002; Timperley, 2009; Thorpe et al., 2011; Gunter, 2012). With this in mind, perhaps it is becoming difficult to attract and maintain quality teachers within the profession. Arguably, flatter structures in leadership aim to create democratic schools and emphasise community by engaging staff in collaborative learning and problem-solving (Murphy, 2005; Currie and Lockett, 2011) with the view that it will revive performance and create a better delivery of government performance targets (Fullan, 2007; Hargreaves & Fink, 2006). Perhaps, working in a democratic way allows cohesion and a relaxed atmosphere. This will be discussed in detail later.
Looking back to those who have been leaders to me in the past, in a school environment, I could not pin point any who particularly stood out from the crowd, as they were all very motivating and influential teachers who were dedicated and passionate about the role. These inspiring teachers collaborated their resources and ideas for the benefit of others. Having experienced this I now realise this could have been a form of distributed leadership, as all the teacher’s cared for the development other departments within the school in order to maximise children’s learning. Furthermore, I have learned that working together and communicating well as a team can successfully impact on everyone’s learning by ensuring no one falls behind. Similarly, Little (1990) and Spillane (2006) claim that distributed leadership is based on all the staff, including the leaders, effectively communicating and interacting in order to successfully impact practice and develop concepts. However, it could be argued that flatter structures could cause incoherence between staff members and confusion in roles or responsibilities. Timperley (2009) supports this by saying that increasing the amount of leaders in a school could result in larger distribution of incompetence and bad ideas. Harris et al. (2007) believes that may be due to overlapping structural and cultural boundaries since there is less segregation between the leaders and those who are being led. This is supported by early theorists who believed fewer leaders saw effective communication and less conflict (Heinicke & Bales, 1953). Moreover, having fewer leaders increases recognition for those putting in more work as roles and responsibilities...
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