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Distributed Leadership Melissa G. Han CSU San Marcos/UC San Diego

Author Note Melissa G. Han is an elementary school teacher and a student in the Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at California State University San Marcos and the University of California, San Diego. This literature synthesis paper fulfills 1st quarter requirements of the CSUSM/ UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in EDS 287A/EDLD 750A Educational Research and Evaluation Design taught by Dr. Jennifer Jeffries in the winter quarter of 2014.

2 Distributed Leadership Abstract Schools commonly function under a hierarchal leadership model where leadership is defined by a position and others follow. This review examines an alternative option called distributed leadership where leadership is an action that can be transferred or shared among all stakeholders rather than reliant on an individual. This review will explore how distributed leadership is defined and its effects within school settings that implement this model. Finally, the notion of trust will be discussed as the glue that binds effective distributed leadership relationships. Keywords: organization, distributed leadership, trust

3 Distributed Leadership Introduction Leadership and management have been used interchangeably when discussing the necessary changes schools need to implement in order to achieve student success. Often principals or those in formal positions of leadership are expected to be the heroes for these schools by functioning as both leader and manager. Spillane and Kim (2012) state that to focus solely on the formal positions of leadership in an organization would overlook the informal relationships that are important to its leadership. This statement regards leadership and management separately while acknowledging distributed leadership as an alternative to the hierarchal leadership models typically seen. This literature review will address how distributed leadership (DL) is defined. Next, the aspect of partnerships within a distributed leadership model will be explored under the notion of trusting relationships. Finally, a discussion of future implications will be addressed in relation to educational leadership and social justice and equity. Literature Review One might wonder how far distributed leadership can go within a directive, hierarchal society. Common hierarchal models designate the principal in a leadership position and both teachers and students follow suit. Researchers have sought out other leadership models to help school settings create a more equitable perspective where leadership is a collective social process. According to Bolden, distributed leadership is not done by an individual or to people but instead is a group activity or an action that works through and within relationships (2011). This implies that leadership may be shared and transferred among all members where they pool their

4 Distributed Leadership expertise for a common goal. With this characteristic in mind, what sets distributed leadership apart from other leadership models that have similar components? Are there key elements in distributed leadership that may be shared across researchers? Distributed Leadership Defined The literature around the concept of distributed leadership has been associated with collaborative, democratic and co- leadership. Among the various research around distributed leadership, there are two elements shared among them (Bolden, 2011): 1. Leadership is characterized by a group or network of people interacting with one another 2. Expertise is distributed among many individuals instead of the few Under these elements, leadership in schools steps away from the traditionally heroic position of the individual and steps towards more of an informal leadership. It is not enough to distribute leadership but to understand how it is distributed, why its distributed, who controls the distribution, and what is being distributed. Therefore, the key contribution of DL is not in offering a replacement for other leadership models, but in enabling the recognition of a variety of forms of leadership in a more integrated and systemic manner that is meaningful to the experiences and goals of those enacting it. At its core, DLs effectiveness is dependent on its partnerships. This review will look at distributed leadership among staff partnerships. Distributed Leadership among Staff Partnerships There is a distinct difference between formal positions and informal forms of leadership within schools. Formal positions of leadership are characterized by classroom teachers, principals, and mentor teachers. Informal positions do not have any formal leadership roles but

5 Distributed Leadership are nominated by other colleagues as influences on their instructional practices (Sun, Frank, Penuel, & Kim, 2013). The focus is on the interactions, interconnections, and interdependencies among people or subgroups. They found that subgroups are important to the flow of information especially in the creation of knowledge and innovation. Further, after surveying whom teachers turn to for instructional advice among 30 schools in a mid-sized urban school district, the findings showed that teachers turn to part-time teachers more than full-time. They also found that some principals supported networks or connections between subgroups. This suggests that between-subgroup ties are important in the implementation of reform in schools. Networks are made up of subgroups, that is, groups of actors who typically have stronger ties to one another than to others in the overall network are critical to the functioning of the overall network and the organization. The strength of distributed leadership framework ultimately comes from the alignment between formal and informal leaders influences on different aspects of a task (Sun et al., 2013). Spillane and Kim (2012) found that when teachers take on a full-time formal leadership position, a teacher is no longer viewed as a peer by other teachers. This creates a situation where the teacher leader must work to gain teachers trust and not assert her position as an expert and prevent hierarchal influences. Their findings suggests that part-time leaders may be in a unique position to address these challenges. Their dual positions both as teachers and as formal leaders enable them to continue to be viewed as peers by other teachers as they also take on leadership responsibilities. Once partnerships are formed between staff, trust is what binds them together and creates effective distributed leadership models.

6 Distributed Leadership Distributed Leadership with Trust Since distributed leadership influences attitudes of others through intentional social interaction where leadership can be transferred, all organization members have the potential to influence (Jackson & Marriott, 2012). They act for specific goals that represent the values, the wants and needs, and the aspirations of both leaders and followers. The DL model has less to do with power equalization and more to do with perceived agreement across roles in the structure. Van Maele and Van Houtte (2009) state the focus should be on how school leaders promote and sustain conditions for successful schooling in interaction with others rather than on what structures and programs are necessary for success. Trust is vital in building the strong relationships needed within an effective distributed leadership model. Hulpia, Devos, and Van Keer found that who is providing support in an organization was less important than the quality of support being given. Their findings suggest that teachers who believe that their school is run by a cooperative leadership team (characterized by group cohesion, clear and unambiguous roles, and goal orientedness) feel committed to the school (2011, p. 754). Schools characterized with trust under those conditions, were led by a leadership team that worked together in a cohesive and open way. This shows how DL needs to connect in a meaningful way with the experiences and aspirations of leadership practitioners. Since organizational members need to function out of collective goals, they are dependent on one another. In such situations of interdependence, trust may reduce uncertainty and enhance cooperation (Van Maele & Van Houtte, 2009). Vulnerability is an important aspect of trust and is defined as a willingness to risk engagement with another. In other words it places confidence that ones well-being will be protected by the trusted person or group and can count on another to come through with what is needed. Since trust is important in building effective relationships

7 Distributed Leadership in a distributed leadership model, what are the steps organizations must take to foster this process? Future Implications For Educational Leadership Trust acts as the glue that binds interrelationships within distributed leadership. As members in an organization participate in its direction and enactment of its goals, they must actively contribute to sustaining the connections between reciprocity, trust, and commitment in their relationships. Relationships within an effective DL model develops over time and is not quickly acquired. Trust forms an essential component of communication between their members and the communities they serve as all stakeholders demonstrate benevolence, honesty, openness, reliability, and competence. Without these essential components for trust, the foundation for school improvement will be underdeveloped in a distributed leadership model. Therefore, the role for formal positions must focus on fostering trust within their organizations interrelationships through the quality of support they provide (Sun et al., 2013). Trust is essential for the foundation of school improvement planning within the distributed leadership model. The quality of supportive leadership is important in predicting teachers commitment, whereas who provides this leadership is not important. Therefore, at least one school leader should support teachers and give them positive feedback. To do so, school leaders should be approachable, be visible, and focus on direct communication with teachers. This implies that in large schools the personal contact between leaders and teachers should receive sufficient attention. (Hulpia et al., 2011) Within those interactions, openness and trust must be modeled by the leaders first. This can be done by providing time to meet, building

8 Distributed Leadership teaching networks, and providing a follow up of these networks. This has implications for teachers. Teachers should be aware that they are no longer simply teachers in their own classrooms. They must participate in school decision making, develop the same school goals, practice open communication, and have clear roles as they work collaboratively towards a common mission. As school leaders work towards these skills in building trust within distributed leadership relationships, one must ask how social justice and equity are affected within those organizations. For Social Justice and Equity Jackson and Marriott found that urban schools typically function out of a hierarchal leadership model (2012). This model revealed are characterized by either high principal influence and low teacher influence or both low teacher and principal influence. Some of the most vulnerable student populations attend schools in which neither principals nor teachers claim influence over school policy decisions and are therefore characterized by the least desirable school leadership conditions. This is morally unacceptable. The nature of teaching and leading in these schools is complex. The responsibility lies among all stakeholders to provide a positive, strong leadership model that challenges the deep, troubling inequities within the system. Under these conditions, distributed leadership is necessary in counteracting against these hierarchal systems that continue to affect the success of students in those communities. School leaders within a distributed leadership model must enter into their organizations relationship with a willingness to listen and seek common understanding. This act is characterized with having great vulnerability. By taking a humble stand in leadership, this creates space for the members in the organization to feel safety in voicing their concerns. The

9 Distributed Leadership space created communicates that all voices, especially minority voices, are valued and have input in the organizations goals. Speaking and listening alone cannot build the kind of trust that binds relationships within distributed leadership models. These acts must have clear intent with how it will provide success to all the students the school leaders serve. Relationships are complex and require complex interactions. Studies within secondary schools found composition of the student body in terms of social class background, gender, and immigrant background to influence a staffs trust (Hulpia et al., 2011). This affects staff relationships especially when they differ. In view of a social justice orientation on education, it is important that school leaders treat students from diverse backgrounds equally and that school contexts create space for its staff to practice openness or vulnerability, courage to challenge one another, and provide support as they enact shared goals to counterbalance this association. Summary Schools have the massive task of serving its students within complex situations and relationships. It is not enough to view leadership of this task in terms of a hierarchal model where the one holds the responsibility of that mission. It is time to perceive leadership as an action among the collective strength of many. School leaders must look past merely managing and instead look deeply at the diverse relationships formed in their organization. These relationships, if built upon trust, shared goals, clear roles, and quality support, will be able to balance power and influence so that all students may be served well (Spillane & Kim, 2012).

10 Distributed Leadership References

Bolden, R. (2011). Distributed Leadership in Organizations: A Review of Theory and Research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 13(3), 251269. doi:10.1111/j.14682370.2011.00306.x Hulpia, H., Devos, G., & Van Keer, H. (2011). The Relation Between School Leadership From a Distributed Perspective and Teachers Organizational Commitment: Examining the Source of the Leadership Function. Educational Administration Quarterly, 47(5), 728771. doi:10.1177/0013161X11402065 Jackson, K. M., & Marriott, C. (2012). The Interaction of Principal and Teacher Instructional Influence as a Measure of Leadership as an Organizational Quality. Educational Administration Quarterly, 48(2), 230258. doi:10.1177/0013161X11432925 Spillane, J. P., & Kim, C. M. (2012). An Exploratory Analysis of Formal School Leaders Positioning in Instructional Advice and Information Networks in Elementary Schools. American Journal of Education, 119(1), 73102. doi:10.1086/667755 Sun, M., Frank, K. a., Penuel, W. R., & Kim, C. M. (2013). How External Institutions Penetrate Schools Through Formal and Informal Leaders. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(4), 610644. doi:10.1177/0013161X12468148 Van Maele, D., & Van Houtte, M. (2009). Faculty Trust and Organizational School Characteristics: An Exploration Across Secondary Schools in Flanders. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(4), 556589. doi:10.1177/0013161X09335141