Within the last 30 years or more there has been a greater shift of emphasis of attention by educational scholars to the role of leadership in schools. This has included examining what is meant by leadership as well as how the influence or power that comes from leadership is used, shared and devolved.
I am interested in examining leadership teams that share leadership. I have been involved with leadership for most of my teaching career but only at the senior level in about the last six years and I was recently involved in working as a team member in a co-principalship model for one year. This assignment sets out a plan for a small-scale study to investigate the perceptions and attitudes of administrators and teachers at Danube International School Vienna to the effectiveness of implementation and functioning of a four-member co-principalship where there had previously only been a single principal.
The principle of shared leadership by individuals has ancient roots in political systems. The history of the Western Roman Empire is peppered with examples of diarchy and one does not have to look far to find similar examples of shared leadership (including Triumvirates) in both the ancient, medieval and modern world. The concept and practice of flattening hierarchies and the compartmentalisation or sharing of leadership responsibilities is nothing new.
Modern notions of shared leadership are also highly connected with flattening hierarchical structures and a move towards more heterarchical organisations so as to, ‘create structures that empower teachers to collaborate with one another and to lead from within the heart of the school, the classroom...’ otherwise we will, ‘discourage true educational leadership.’ (Coyle, 2007, p. 239). Coyle also describes a sense of powerlessness at all levels in a hierarchy that not always appreciated by the disparate groups within it.
There are extensive studies on the role of leadership in schools as well as changing perspectives on what is leadership and where power and authority manifest themselves. When individuals are not working cooperatively, ‘(organisational) rivalry mobilizes individual egoism while binding it to group goals. This may create a powerful force threatening the unity of the larger Enterprise.’ (Selznick,1957, p9). It is an indication of the great inertia in schools that the latter statement, now over 50 years old, still describes the existing structures in schools today.
The study I aim to create examines one small aspect of what is commonly referred to as ‘distributed leadership’. As will be examined in the literature search, this term is not clearly defined and even Gronn, the main champion of this term, has been almost constantly challenging what this means as well as redefining how it can be analysed (for example Gronn, 2009;) Possibly more references?
For the background to the study, I aim to define the terms used in this assignment, place the study in context and...