Understanding distributed leadership


In this section, the nature of distributed leadership is described, a conceptual model is presented and a taxonomy  suggested.


It is generally agreed, that distributed leadership is better described than defined as it is context specific. Based on the work undertaken by the Synergies in distributed leadership project team, the following description was developed in terms of it’s principal components:

Distributed Leadership for learning and teaching is a leadership approach in which collaborative working is undertaken between individuals who trust and respect each other’s contribution. It occurs as a result of an open culture within and across an institution. It is an approach in which reflective practice is an integral part enabling actions to be critiqued, challenged and developed through cycles of planning, action, reflection and assessment and replanning. It happens most effectively when people at all levels engage in action, accepting leadership in their particular areas of expertise. It requires resources that support and enable collaborative environments together with a flexible approach to space, time and finance which occur as a result of diverse contextual settings in an institution. Through shared and active engagement, distributed leadership can result in the development of leadership capacity to sustain improvements in teaching and learning.


(Jones, Harvey, Lefoe, Ryland, 2013,Lessons learnt: identifying synergies in distributed leadership, ALTC, p.21)