Distributed leadership, or the expansion of leadership roles in schools, beyond those in formal leadership or administrative posts: Educational Leadership Assignment, UON, Malaysia

Introduction

Distributed leadership, or the expansion of leadership roles in schools, beyond those in formal leadership or administrative posts, represents one of the most influential ideas to emerge in the field of educational leadership in the past decade (Hallinger and Heck, 2009). The idea of distributed leadership as “leadership shared within and between schools” (Harris, 2008, p. 16) has found favor with researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and educational reformers around the globe (Spillane, 2006; Harris, 2008; Leithwood et al., 2009). Few ideas, it seems, have provoked as much attention, debate, and controversy in the school leadership field, as this particular concept.

Distributed leadership: what we know
Distributed leadership is increasingly been seen as a contributor to organizational growth and success. From a distributed perspective, it is the nature and the effects of leadership practice that matter. Knowing if, how and in what way distributed leadership practice influences organizational outcomes is at the heart of a great deal of contemporary empirical inquiry (Leithwood et al., 2009; Harris, 2009). In England, a recent study of school transformation has shown that distributed leadership is a key component of success and highlights how this was associated with higher performance and gains in achievement. In all the school cases, the principals had deliberately shared leadership responsibilities in order to support innovation and change. This was a very conscious and deliberate strategy by the principals to extend and build leadership capacity within the schools.

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