Friday, January 27, 2017

Dedicated Distributed Leadership

I've noticed efforts to distribute leadership vary from "sounds good on a page" to dedicated work that truly makes a difference.

"Sounds good on a page" is distributed leadership that's on your own time. Essentially it's volunteer work that's loosely connected to system decision making groups and the budget. Due to the lack of commitment, this kind of distributive leadership and sometimes committee work has some face value, but little more.

Then there's distributive leadership that's dedicated. This kind of leadership takes system funds and dedicated, in-school time to engage education teams with important decision making, assessment, review, reflection, and revision.

Often "looks good on a page" distributed leadership is meant to respond to State or Federal guidelines without true investment, whereas dedicated distributed leadership is born out of the belief that distributing leadership is a way to truly empower systematic change and development.

As I think of these two ways to distribute leadership, I realize that, with any endeavor, it's important to look behind the words to find out what's really happening. For example if you have a distributive leadership team, the team should begin with a review of time, support, financial resources, and goals. Using backwards design, the team should have enough time on task to chart their course, and then be expected to assess along the way. In the end, there should be an expectation to evaluate and report on impact using meaningful stories, data, and evidence.

With regard to my own work, I am thinking about the distributed leadership teams I work on. One in particular is very powerful. The team truly has voice over the work we do with and for students. On some other teams there is less impact for a number of reasons some of which are noted above. As I join teams, I want to join the teams that do make a difference--teams where good strategic process is well supported and impactful for children and families. Our time is precious and it is important that we dedicate that time to efforts that matter. The efforts we choose will differ depending on who we are and where we are headed in the profession. Onward.