Patterns of distributed leadership : a case study of three primary schools in KwaZulu-Natal.
This study sought to examine the patterns of distributed leadership, to explore the factors which contribute to the shaping of particular patterns of distributed leadership and to elicit the ways in which particular patterns of distributed leadership influences teacher leadership, in the South African context. For the purpose of this study, distributed leadership was viewed as a system of leadership which is dispersed among positional and informal leaders. It draws on Gunter’s (2005) typology of distributed leadership and Grant’s (2008) zones and roles model of teacher leadership. It is located within the interpretive paradigm and is qualitative in approach. A multi-site case study research design was employed. Data was generated using focus-group and semi-structured interviews. Three schools in the province of KwaZulu-Natal were purposively selected; a quintile two, a quintile three and a quintile five school. Principals, heads of department and level one teachers, served as participants. The findings of the research revealed that principals of the three schools believe that teachers have the potential to lead and that it is their responsibility to distribute leadership in schools and provide opportunities for the enactment of distributed leadership. The study also revealed that some teachers are willing to initiate new ideas and take on additional responsibilities whereas others were content to play a supportive role. It was revealed that all schools promoted the use of teams, giving teachers who have no formal leadership positions, the opportunities to lead. The constitution of teams differed between authorised, democratic and dispersed distributed leadership as posited by Gunter (2005). The study also revealed that the following factors enhance the enactment of distributed leadership: for example a favourable school culture and climate, an integrated organisational structure and adequate time for leadership activities. The many benefits of distributed leadership on teacher leadership were revealed, such as empowerment, development of knowledge and skills, confidence-building and enhanced collegiality. The study also revealed that the principal shared decision-making extensively with the school management team but shared decision-making with the level one teachers was very limited. Some of the recommendations that emerged from the findings include, principals should try to flatten hierarchical structures and teachers should be given time to take on leadership duties. Teachers must be given opportunities to participate in decision-making. In-service training on leadership development should be conducted by the Department of Education (DOE) to prepare teachers to take on leadership roles.