Distributing Leadership

The above video does not exemplify distributed leadership.  The manager in the video is delegating tasks.  Delegating responsibilities is very different from distributing leadership.  Distributed leadership is a powerful conceptual framework for thinking about and studying school leadership.   The leader acts like more of a facilitator in this process.  This parallels the shift in the teacher’s role in the classroom.

It is only a powerful framework when leadership is distributed the right way.  Here are some ideas that I have used as both a school leader and now in my work with principals:

  • Always start with WHY?  WHY should the focus be on this initiative?
  • WHO should this initiative be distributed to.  Try to connect people to areas/projects that they are passionate about.
  • HOW will the people/groups work on the distributed initiatives?
  • WHAT structures will people/groups use to monitor, determine progress, and provide feedback.

These ideas should help you reduce the delegating that many leaders disguise as distributed leadership.  The true measure of a leader is that he/she can leave the organization and success is still sustained.  The only way to accomplish this is to develop a comprehensive distributed leadership framework.


  1. Dave said:

    Too often we delegate a responsibility but then ask the person/group responsible to do the work as the leader would have done it for themselves.

    Your idea of distributed leadership is bang on a I really like your guiding questions that accompany. A good reinforcer and review for myself.

    Thx. for the post


    February 23, 2011
  2. Jesse said:

    Thank you very much for this. I am planning a big project for our next staff meeting and these guidelines will be the basis for my design. This is really going to help!

    Thanks again

    February 24, 2011

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