The Potential and Problems of a Distributed Leadership Structure

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 2
Words: 450
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master

Features of Distributed leadership

In the past, when a distributed approach was adopted, it did not confine instructors, engagements but instead, it broadened the scope of leadership in decision-making concerning the overall operation of the school (Lumby, 2019). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the notion of distributed leadership was taking place whereby ideas such as collaboration between instructors in teams and responsibilities were being considered (Ansheb, 2017). Applying this model leads to a realization that various tasks need distinct expertise and do not reside in one person. Moreover, the style of leadership suggests that all teachers can lead since they possess capabilities that await to be explored.

The Hallmarks of Distributed Leadership

In distributed style, leadership is seen in terms of collective behavior of all people within an institution and not a designated role. Organizations adopting this approach reap the benefit of collective knowledge, skills, or expertise of participants and give them greater leadership compared to traditionally led entities (Feng, Hao, Iles & Bown, 2017). In the case where decision-making is distributed, senior leaders have a role in contributing to the quality of thinking throughout the entity (Cannatelli et al., 2017). For example, they must consider working with teams and showing examples that can be replicated in the entire institution. Since a wide range of stakeholders is involved in the distributed system, the likelihood of ill-considered or unethical practices is reduced. Most people embracing a distributed leadership approach appreciate that their capacity to lead lies in understanding the internal and external environment.

The Potentials of Distributed Leadership Structure

Studies point out that leadership has a significant influence on schools when widely distributed. The combined leadership of teams is more influential than efforts from individuals. As such, leadership needs to be coordinated and distributed appropriately to ensure clarity on roles and structures of communication (Peters, Carr & Doldan, 2018; Karriker, Madden & Katell, 2017). Working in partnership fosters leadership distribution, which yields opportunities for executives to lead with unique styles or aspects of work across the partnership (Holloway, Nielsen & Saltmarsh, 2018). Furthermore, there are more opportunities for staff to learn from one another and share practices.

The Problems of Distributed Leadership Structure

By its natures, distributed leadership approach is complicated such that some issues concerning power exercises and social justice need to be well developed. The presence of many leaders allows an increase in peer governing among educators or support staff (Larsson & Löwstedt, 2020; Ho & Ng, 2017). For schools to become more influential learning institutions, leaders will require to be well empowered (Daniëls, Hondeghem & Dochy, 2019). The style of leadership is not effective on its own since the rationale for distributing roles or responsibilities determines the success.


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