The principalship has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. School leaders are no longer simply managing resources (Cunningham & Cordeiro 2013). Indeed, they are responsible for shaping a vision of success, building capacity through professional development, shaping school culture, cultivating leadership in others, and improving instruction (Wallace, 2013). Included in these roles are the constant interruptions of paperwork, meetings, drills, and emergencies. What kind of a leader can survive this? What traits are required to be able to deal with all of this, and still keep the idea of what is best for the children at the forefront of their day? A leader who knows how to share the responsibility of our school will have the greatest success.
I subscribe to the distributed leadership model. According to Cunningham & Cordeiro (2013), distributive leadership “...stresses spreading involvement including things like decision making, teamwork, and work reallocation,” and contends “...that responsibilities are shifted to others rather than shared with others” (p. 173). Rather than simply share decision-making with others, responsibilities are assigned to various assistant principals and coordinators. For example, my principal gives specific roles to different administrators within the building to allow them to focus on a certain specialization; one assistant principal is in charge of technology, while another is responsible for character education. Further, Cunningham & Cordeiro (2013) adds that distributed leadership, “...has the potential to free up leaders from many managerial responsibilities so they can become true instructional leaders” (p. 173).
A principal’s priority should be in creating the collaborative culture and collective responsibility of a professional learning community, where a positive school climate is promoted. The National School Climate Center reports that a positive school climate “improves student achievement and a sense of belonging” more than any other action (Hughes & Pickeral, 2013). Distributive leadership theory promotes this priority by giving everyone a stake in their instruction, their environment and community, and their students’ growth. A more accurate image of this type of leadership may be of leaders in the middle of a circle rather than at the top of a pyramid (Scherer, 2013). The authors of the Multiplier Effect (2013) suggest that leaders should identify and channel the “native genius” inherent in each and every member of a school: students, teachers, aides, and administrators. This book begins with one of my favorite quotes:
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more,
become more, you are a leader.
~ John Quincy Adams
I will be this leader; I will be one who utilizes the strengths that these individuals offer for greater productivity towards our school’s vision.
Cunningham, W., & Cordeiro, P. (2013). Educational Leadership: A Bridge to Improved Practice. United States:
Pearson College Div.
Hughes, W.H. & Pickeral, T. (2013) School climate and shared leadership. New York: National School Climate
Center. Retrieved from http://www.schoolclimate.org/publications/documents/sc-brief-leadership.pdf
Scherer, M. (2013). Perspectives, how are you doing? Educational Leadership. 70, 7. Retrieved from
The Wallace Foundation. (2013) The school principal as leader: Guiding schools to better teaching and learning.
New York: The Wallace Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.wallacefoundation.org/knowledge-