When I began the process of trying to map my concept of leadership in schools, I was struggling with the complexity of the situation. What I have found in my current school is a feeling among the teachers of lack of support and no sense of belonging. It was important to generate a sense of belonging that empowers all teachers and promotes leadership horizontally across the school. This would have to feed back into the hierarchical structure of the school to gain acknowledgment and support.
My initial idea of leadership before I commenced this unit was an ability to lead by understanding and using peoples best skills in a positive way towards goals that through positive collaboration emerge from the group. This approach would promote the idea of being lead my many…by collective consensus.
Transformative leadership appealed as it supported a developmental process, encouraged ownership (Brocker, 2012), through encouraging creativity, taking risks providing a vision that had long-term goals (Slide, 2012). The idea of distributed leadership as an interactive web of leaders was a means to engage and empower teachers across the school (Spillane, as cited in Marzano, 2005, p. 23). Sustainable leadership really grabbed my attention, as my husband is a Botanist/Ecologist I had an understanding of systems thinking. The idea of a complex web of possibilities that was regenerative promoting emergence to me seemed to fit a complex bureaucratic system (Avolio, Walumbwa & Weber, 2009, p. 430). According to Hargreaves and Fink, distributed leadership creates a culture of “initiative and opportunity…gives depth and breath to the idea and practice of sustainable leadership” (2003, p. 18).
How to visualise this in a map showing inter-connections without it becoming unreadable made me think very practically about how I would instigate leadership in my school and what outcomes or processes would not only be regenerative but empowering across the school creating a sense of belonging.
I realised that I needed an ACTIVE doing/process cycle or micro that dealt with issues and how to develop, enact, monitor and assess outcomes and a broader benefits and an AFFECT or macro cycle, that provided the group with relevant skills, promoted sharing within the group and across the school, that was empowering, creating the connection of belonging.
I commenced the map adopting a strategic leadership role by the TL (Donham, 2005, p. 301) to be proactive in promoting a vision with a moral purpose. This approach would be an ideal way to connect with people in the school with knowledge and a desire to make a difference and would instigate an ongoing dialogue promoting a regenerative cycle of sustainable leadership.
Regeneration helped to decide on what the central processes of each cycle would be….what would interconnect the two cycles, I decided on Collaboration/ Knowledge, Transparency/ Communication and Belonging. The feedback between these three concepts would link into the concepts in both the Active and Affect cycles creating a web of connections.
This broader Affect cycle includes Tapscott’s Four Principals for the Open World, Openness/ Collaboration, Transparency, Sharing and Empowerment (2012). I added Diversity, Learning Development and Capacity Building. All of these capacities linked with the central processes interconnecting the Active and Affect cycle.
The Active cycle is based on Muzio’s Seven Steps to Problem Solving (2011). I added effectiveness/ outcomes, acknowledge/ celebrate, adapt/extend/reflect, feeding back into the central process. Within this Active cycle, a reiterative feedback loop allowed refining the process and acknowledged emergence from the process. Reflection also would allow me, as TL to assess the process, be proactive enabling leading from the middle (Fullan, 2005. p.299).
The two cycles I developed wrapped around linked with each other feeding back into ongoing collaboration potentially creating sustainable leadership across the school.
When the best leader’s work is done, the people say,’We did it ourselves’.(Donham, 2005. p. 299)
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