Is Shared Leadership Right for your School District?
Joni C. Poff and David J. Parks
Winter 2010, Vol. 6, No. 4
AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice
There have been uncountable researches on the significance of a leader and the essence of leadership itself in the past three decades. The success of any organization is dependent upon the mindset of a leader where leadership is the combination of skills, drive, behavior and a mindset. Leadership can be voluntary and is not confined to a particular position (Pearce and Conger, 2003). The most important application of leadership is in the academic institutions specifically the schools; these institutions form the basic foundations of the students who would enter the interconnected global workforce in the future.
This article in particular seems to interest me as it has focused on identifying the influence of the shared leadership in the schools on the student achievements. Collaboration and support are those essential elements that have been recently with respect to leadership in the global era (Evaggelia and Vitta et al., 2012). The concept of individual leadership has completely been transformed and almost eliminated. The need to work in teams and to work for the mutual interests has changed the entire dynamics of the working organizations (Ensley and Hmieleski et al., 2006, pp. 217--231). I have heard the co-principle concept in educational institutes, in the United Kingdom but couldn’t decipher of its significance. Like others, I had always believed that the leader has to be an individual who takes the lead and the responsibility solely.
Both the principles have the authority to take the decisions on the spot without even consulting the other one. And if such a situation occurs, the other principle would adopt the decision without reluctance. So, here I identified that, in this educational philosophy, the leadership is dependent upon high levels of trust and mutual consent. The belief behind this co-principle concept is that the students learn to work in equality and understand the significance of teams (Morrison, 2013). I find this very interesting and chose this particular article as this is one of its kinds; I have been going through several articles and gained a lot of information on shared leadership, but this research article seems to be more credible to me.
I would surely like to use it for future research as there is a lot of unexplored areas in this theory. I am sure we can gain evidence of the superiority of the shared leadership by applying this concept in different organizational settings. I am especially interested to use this concept and find out how it works out in business settings. If it succeeds, then what would be the credibility of the earlier theories that we have been studying for a long time. This particular research article has laid emphasis on the development and learning of the students, but I believe that this can be further used for future researches to shape the entire foundations of leaderships. Summary of the Article
The article sheds light on the significance of shared leadership; this is a new model proposed that negates the concept of an individual leader. Teamwork and efforts in groups have given rise to the multi-level theory of leadership (Paulson and Wajdi et al., 2012, p. 7). The concept of leadership in schools has been studied in depth, but there is a lack of evidence that supports the effects of shared leadership on the achievement of the students. The studies conducted earlier do support the fact that the culture of the school is positively affected by the practice of shared leadership. Leadership has been transformed in the recent decades; where it was once considered to be an in-born quality but then people identified that it could be learned also (Kocolowski, 2010, pp. 22--32). The issues of labor and management have been studied since the early 20th century; initially only accepting the differences seemed to be a solution but then as time passed the democratic styles of management and supervision became popular. By the end of the twentieth century, the participative management and decentralized management succeeded. But now, a useful approach has been identified as the shared leadership style. It consists of trust, mutual interest, consent, shared responsibility and fully supportive culture.
Issue of Research
The researchers have compiled the article in a very effective manner; the flow of information is completely coherent and smooth. The issues raised in the article have been defined clearly, and there is a very smooth flow from the beginning of the article till the end. Each phase is integrated with the other section of the article that makes it easier to read and understand the whole article. The research question is a simple one: whether shared leadership is an effective organizational process for education or not.
Similarly, MacNeil, Prater & Busch (2009) also found that all the variables associated with climate and culture of the school affect the achievement of the students directly. In a study conducted by Leithwood and Mascall (2008), they found that the use of personnel is also a direct influencing variable along with the other two. Unlike other organizations, schools do not have some certain technologies; they are far more complex organizations where a single person may not be able to specialize in all the operational aspects. Leithwood and Mascall also identified a leadership termed as “intelligent hierarchy”. This leadership concept is an integrated form where organic leadership is combined with the hierarchical leadership; it is specifically used in those schools that have the highest levels of achievements. So, these authors identified that a leadership does not have to be limited to a single type rather; it could consist of blended behaviors and views mainly dependent upon the situation of applicability.
It has been further found that the trend of schools has been changed; all the values that are applied in the schools have been transformed. The schools now a day require environments that are supportive, caring and build a trusting relation between the teachers and the students. The element of motivation has become essential for both the students and the teachers, and for this purpose, the environment must be supportive. When the students feel motivated, they will perform well and hence, it can be said that the student achievement shall be positively affected.
Data obtained by Researchers
The data was obtained from a panel of 16 teachers, writers, principals, and superintendents; all these people had either research knowledge of shared leadership or had worked in such an environment. A Delphi technique was conducted with three rounds where all the sixteen people participated. From this technique, 220 characteristics, behaviors and cultural conditions were identified that had an impact on the shared leadership; these variables were reviewed and revised by the panelists twice. And by the end of the third round, the essential elements of a shared leadership were rated; these were a total of 15 items that described the concept of shared leadership by the participants. Further, at least 80% of the total panelists also identified another 67 items that were either very good descriptor of or excellent descriptors of the shared leadership. The scale used for these items was self-rating.
Main arguments of the Article
The researchers identified that decentralized management has become highly popular and has different labels like organic management, collaborative leadership, distributed leadership and even learning organizations (Witziers and Bosker et al., 2003, pp. 398--425). From the Delphi technique, five domains were identified that painted the picture of what constitutes the shared leadership. Those five domains include: collaboration; common focus; shared responsibility; supportive culture; and widespread communication.
All the five domains are interlinked with each other and add to the clarity of the concept of shared leadership. In order to improve and achieve the desired goals, collaboration is highly critical. Collaboration is only possible when all the people have a mutual interest; this means that they have a common approach of focus towards the achievement of the goal (Martin, 2013). The goals are common and so is the method to evaluate the success of the efforts. All the staff members agree with each other and so they work in a way that the responsibility is shared willingly. Everyone is accountable to some extent and, therefore, all the participants work together striving for the mutual goal in a supportive culture.
As each member supports the other, a sense of collective efficacy is built that positively affects the whole practice. But the most important element that is necessary for this whole process is the widespread communication (Townsend, 2011, pp. 91--92). With mutual consent and shared responsibility, must all the members clearly understand the expectations for the students. Until and unless there is clear and widespread communication, the whole process cannot be completed. So, all these critical components are interlinked with each other in such a way that there is a relationship between the people and the tasks. When implementing the shared leadership practice in the educational institutions, the members must focus on all the five domains of this concept.
Contribution of Research to Management Settings
The article has particularly targeted the effectiveness of the shared leadership in the schools; but this research can be applied to a wider setting. All the characteristics and behaviors that have been identified as the relevant conditions for the shared leadership can ensure its applicability in any organization. This research can be of particular interest to the superintendents of the school districts; it can help them to evaluate their current practices and identify the flaws in their environmental settings (Sanzo and Sherman et al., 2011, pp. 31--45). These identified domains can be particularly helpful for the management in the business organizations. They managers can use the five domains and practicing a shared leadership style in their organizations; teamwork shall also be enhanced, and the employees perform better in a motivated environment (Carson and Tesluk et al., 2007, pp. 1217--1234).
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