A Qualitative Analysis of Distributed Leadership in an Elementary School
This qualitative case study investigated the processes by which an elementary school principal uses Distributed Leadership to accomplish leadership tasks and progress toward organizational goals. It aimed to provide a thick description of the practices, behaviors, perspectives, and experiences of the participants of Distributed Leadership. The research participants included one principal and eight teacher leaders in a prekindergarten through second grade school in the southeastern part of the United States, having been identified as having Distributed Leadership. The study used observations, interviews, and document analysis to collect qualitative data. The study's finding revealed four themes: leaders’ abilities to pinpoint other leaders within the school, the importance of protected time to complete leadership tasks, leaders' desire for proper planning and preparation, leaders' reluctance to relinquish control, and leaders' responsibilities to monitor progress once expectations have been established and communicated.
The study revealed several essential processes of Distributed Leadership, including time management, the formulation of interpersonal relationships, selecting competent leaders and building the capacity of those leaders, and professional development throughout the Distributed Leadership model. Recommendations from this study suggests that principals invest specific and dedicated time into developing schedules that provide staff with opportunities to complete instructional and leadership tasks and that principals pinpoint areas of opportunity for staff professional development then provide rigorous and ongoing professional development opportunities for the leadership team members. Lastly, recommendations from this study encourage placing the most suitable people in the most suitable positions. The information provided from the current study will enable school leaders to model Distributed Leadership as they strive to accomplish leadership tasks and progress toward organizational goals. This study will encourage future research to explore claims of causality of Distributed Leadership.