My Future Leadership Framework: Distributed Leadership

Dion Ginanto (2012)

 

            Principal leadership is an important factor for promoting high quality of innovation in schools. In every school in the world, including my school where I teach in Indonesia, they are trying to find the best model of leadership to be applied to improve the quality of schools. The principals in Indonesia use different kinds of leadership, but mostly they use the traditional model of leadership. Traditional leadership here means that the principal is the hero (head) of the school. In other words, the growth of the schools depends on the quality of the principal. Spillane et al. (2004) wrote that it is generally acknowledged that where there are good schools, there are good leaders. But then, if a principal leaves the school, it will be difficult to find a successor because candidates do not have the same capacity as their former principal. As a result, when the principal is changing, all the policies also change. Therefore, I believe that the model of the lone instructional leader should be changed. Schools in Indonesia should try to start applying a model of leadership that does not focus on a single person, but rather all teachers can be the experts: distributed leadership. In this essay I discuss some issues related to distributed leadership: What distributed leadership is, leadership behaviors affecting distributed leadership, specific steps to assure distributed leadership, and some challenges in distributed leadership.

What is distributed leadership? Spillane et al. (2004) defined distributed leadership as not solely a function of an individual’s ability, skill, charisma, and/or cognition. Distributed leadership assures that the best understanding of leadership is as a practice distributed over leaders, followers, and their situation. In addition, distributed leadership poses the challenge of how to distribute responsibility and authority for guidance and direction of instruction, and learning about instruction, so as to increase the likelihood that the decisions of individual teachers and principals about what to do, and what to learn how to do, combine into collective benefits for student learning (Elmore, 2000). Therefore, I can conclude that distributed leadership is the practice of leadership in which the leader is no longer a central leader who gives top to bottom commands, instead, the roles of the principal can be distributed (but not be delegated) to all members; it means involving everyone’s expertise, ideas, and efforts.

What leadership behaviors affect distributed leadership? In answering this question, I adapt the leadership behavior offered by Goldrin et al. (2007). They listed three domains that affect leadership behavior: knowledge and skills, personal characteristics, and values and beliefs. Leadership behavior is the key process that leaders should accomplish to improve academic and social learning for all students (core components: high standards of performance, rigorous curriculum, quality instruction, supportive culture of learning and professional behavior, connections to external conditions, and systemic performance accountability (Goldring et al. (2007)).  In order to be able to influence others in regard to distributed leadership, I would like to sharpen my leadership behavior. First of all, I will deepen my leadership skills and knowledge by gathering as much as information and theory as I can about distributed leadership. I will also engage myself in some leadership training. Second of all, to develop my personal characteristics, I will always improve my positive attitudes, for instance, being a role model for the school family. Finally, I will try my best to have strong values and beliefs. I will strengthen my leadership by making it the core of my being, defining who I am and how I choose to be, to do, or to have. I will always try to answer my questions: Why should I be different from other people? Why should I choose to do certain things and avoid others?  What am I committed to? And why do I behave in a certain way?

After I have been able to shape my leadership behavior especially in distributed leadership, I would then focus on some specific steps to develop distributed leadership skill.  I would use POAC (Planning, Organizing, Actuating and Controlling). POAC is the basic concept of management by George R. Terry.
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POAC has been implemented in every organization in the world to maintain the sustainability of the organization (Anon., 2012).  Spillane et al. (2004) drew the relationship between leadership and management. A good management can maintain the organizational arrangement more effectively and efficiently.

  1. Planning

Planning is an important process of leadership (Goldring et al., 2007). In this step, I would like to plan to create the good performance of teachers, the curriculum and the school climate. To make these performances happen, I would do a careful planning in hiring qualified teachers. Qualified teachers mean that they are required not only be able to teach students, but they also need to be able to work in-group and to understand the school’s goals. To create a rigorous curriculum, I would like to engage the school community to set up curriculum planning, including gathering the data needed both to implement systemic accountability in the school and to monitor the curriculum and instruction quality (Goldring et al., 2007). To create a better school climate, I would like to be selective in reaching out to the input of the new students. It does not mean I would discriminate among students; I believe however, that better input can influence a better outcome.

  1. Organizing

The key point of distributed leadership is that all people understand their responsibilities. In distributed leadership, I agree with West Chester University (WCU) that not everyone is a decision-maker, but everyone is an expert whose knowledge contributes to the decision-making process (WCU, 2012). Therefore, in organizing my planning, I will make sure that all in the school’s society understands their job description, and that core components are available and used well. To make this happened, I will promote ongoing Personal Development (PD) for staff members.

  1. Actuating

The important thing in action is that I will be proactive rather than reactive in pursuing school goals. I will actively engage school staff in implementing a rigorous curriculum that is aligned with high standards for students’ performance. In this step, I will not only engage the internal school family, but I will also encourage the external communities (parents, board members, superintendents, practitioners, etc.) to contribute in developing our school (e.g., building up effective communication).

  1. Controlling

The last step in promoting distributed leadership in my school is to control, monitor, and evaluate what we have done so far. In this step, I will collect the data to be analyzed together with the school members to make judgments that guide decisions and actions for sustainable improvement (Goldring et al., 2007).

            In promoting distributed leadership, I believe there will be some challenges. To list the challenges that I will probably find in applying distributed leadership, I quote the ideas of DeFlaminis, according to whom there are some conditions that inhibit distributed leadership (DeFlaminis, 2008 in Mavrogordato, 2012): 1) A history of distrust and hostility in the school. 2) Past negative experiences in sharing leadership. 3) Lack of Leadership credibility and consistency. 4) A toxic or dysfunctional culture. To deal with these problems, I will also adapt the Idea of DeFlaminis: 1) Clear and shared mission/vision. 2) Structures to facilitate planning and discussion (professional learning communities). 3). Rational trust. 4). A culture that supports collaboration (Mavrogordato, 20012).

            All in all, I understand that there are several leadership models to be applied to schools, such as instructional, transformational, shared leadership, etc. However, as I have observed so far, distributed leadership is one of the ideal models of leadership that can be applied in my school in Indonesia. In promoting distributed leadership, I will shape my leadership behaviors (knowledge and skills, personal characteristics, and values and beliefs). After that I will apply POAC as my steps to promote distributed leadership in my school.  The final outcome of applying distributed leadership is the students’ successes.

 

 

References

 

Anon. (2012) . Management Concepts and Applications/Management. Wikibooks. Retrieved from http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Management_Concepts_and_Applications/Management

 

Elmore, R.F. (2000). Building a new structure for school leadership. Washington, D.C.: The Albert Shanker Institute.

 

Goldring, E., Porter, A.C., Murphy, J., Elliot, S.N. & Cravens, X. (2007). Assessing learning centered-leadership: Connections to research, professional standards, and current practices. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University.

 

Mavrogordato, Madeline. (2012) The evolving practice of school leaders (Week 10). A class presentation. Michigan: Michigan State University.

 

Spilane, J.P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2004). Towards a theory of leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Journal of curriculum Studies, 36(1), 3-34.

 

West Chester University (WCU). (2012) Distributed leadership. Pennsylvania. Retrieved from http://www.wcupa.edu/_information/afa/VPAdminFiscal/DistLead.htm

 

 

 

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