Principal - November/December 2019 - 28

Distributed leadership requires
the disposition of empowerment,
not a position or title

Th

By Raymond McNulty

T

he definition of leadership can be elusive. Traditional definitions that consider leadership the province of one person who is
empowered to make decisions and tell others what to do are too limited. Seeing leadership instead as a set of beliefs and a sense of empowerment, however, will lead to a more useful concept: Leadership as a
willingness to act and having the means necessary to do so.
Educational professionals should have the power to do what they need
to do, not the power to control others. They should be empowered to
make decisions that optimize learning, resources, and educational experiences. And this shift in power can extend to all levels of the school,
from the student body to the community at large.
This is about distributing leadership-embedding it throughout
the organization. When everyone is empowered to act, leadership can
emerge in anyone, at any time or place. Sustained leadership demands
empowerment. Empowered educators have the knowledge and beliefs
to maintain the mission of the organization on its path of continuous
improvement without specific direction from someone else.

Leadership Density

When I led the International Center for Leadership in Education, I coined
the term "leadership density" to mean leadership that can be sourced
from anywhere in the system, including individual teachers, staff members, parents, central office staff, students, principals, and others.
Research conducted by the British National College for School
Leadership (www.ncsl.org.uk) reports that its parallel term, "total
leadership," accounts for 27 percent of the variation in student
achievement across schools. This is two to three times higher than is
typically reported in studies of principals' effect on performance.
Leadership density or total leadership includes six major
components:
1. Leadership always includes the potential to say yes.
Empowered people know that their ideas are valued. Too often,
an individual will share an idea with colleagues or supervisors
only to be met with discouragement. This is typical of institutions
that are comfortable with the status quo, such as school boards,
faculties, and parents who want guarantees that a new idea will
work before trying it.
One small-town school board had very clear ideas of what
principals should do, for example. They believed that the principal's job was to run the school, meaning primarily management.
When the principal explained that a major function of the position was to nurture professional growth-especially among new

28

Principal n November/December 2019

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Principal - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal - November/December 2019

from the editor
Snapshots
5 Things
Intertwined for Achievement
Planting the SEAD
Making PLCs a Plus
Measuring Up
Look Out for the Leader
Engagement Across the Generations
The Sum of Its Parts
Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising
NAESP 2019 National Distinguished Principals
In the Spotlight
Practitioner’s Corner
Raising the Bar
Principal’s Bookshelf
School Law
NAESP Partners & Advertiser Index
Speaking Out
Parents & Schools
Parents & Schools
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover1
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover2
Principal - November/December 2019 - 1
Principal - November/December 2019 - 2
Principal - November/December 2019 - 3
Principal - November/December 2019 - from the editor
Principal - November/December 2019 - 5
Principal - November/December 2019 - Snapshots
Principal - November/December 2019 - 7
Principal - November/December 2019 - 5 Things
Principal - November/December 2019 - 9
Principal - November/December 2019 - Intertwined for Achievement
Principal - November/December 2019 - 11
Principal - November/December 2019 - 12
Principal - November/December 2019 - 13
Principal - November/December 2019 - 14
Principal - November/December 2019 - Planting the SEAD
Principal - November/December 2019 - Making PLCs a Plus
Principal - November/December 2019 - 17
Principal - November/December 2019 - 18
Principal - November/December 2019 - 19
Principal - November/December 2019 - Measuring Up
Principal - November/December 2019 - 21
Principal - November/December 2019 - 22
Principal - November/December 2019 - 23
Principal - November/December 2019 - Look Out for the Leader
Principal - November/December 2019 - 25
Principal - November/December 2019 - Engagement Across the Generations
Principal - November/December 2019 - 27
Principal - November/December 2019 - The Sum of Its Parts
Principal - November/December 2019 - 29
Principal - November/December 2019 - 30
Principal - November/December 2019 - 31
Principal - November/December 2019 - Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising
Principal - November/December 2019 - 33
Principal - November/December 2019 - 34
Principal - November/December 2019 - 35
Principal - November/December 2019 - NAESP 2019 National Distinguished Principals
Principal - November/December 2019 - 37
Principal - November/December 2019 - 38
Principal - November/December 2019 - 39
Principal - November/December 2019 - 40
Principal - November/December 2019 - 41
Principal - November/December 2019 - 42
Principal - November/December 2019 - 43
Principal - November/December 2019 - In the Spotlight
Principal - November/December 2019 - 45
Principal - November/December 2019 - Practitioner’s Corner
Principal - November/December 2019 - 47
Principal - November/December 2019 - 48
Principal - November/December 2019 - 49
Principal - November/December 2019 - Raising the Bar
Principal - November/December 2019 - 51
Principal - November/December 2019 - Principal’s Bookshelf
Principal - November/December 2019 - 53
Principal - November/December 2019 - School Law
Principal - November/December 2019 - NAESP Partners & Advertiser Index
Principal - November/December 2019 - 56
Principal - November/December 2019 - 57
Principal - November/December 2019 - Speaking Out
Principal - November/December 2019 - 59
Principal - November/December 2019 - Parents & Schools
Principal - November/December 2019 - 61
Principal - November/December 2019 - 62
Principal - November/December 2019 - 63
Principal - November/December 2019 - Parents & Schools
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover3
Principal - November/December 2019 - Cover4
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