Does your school district have sustainable leadership processes in place? Every school district has either defined or default levels of leadership embedded within the context of their unique school environment. Leadership context is influenced by the industry norms, personnel, resources, politics and varying levels of the organizations ability to anticipate change and react in a timely manner. For sustainable leadership to occur a school or district must have clear goals, clear communication, data and a distributive leadership commitment.
School districts must have a culture that not only recognizes the need for sustaining leadership but also develop a system wide distributive leadership culture. Dr. Howard Youngs states there are four levels of Analytical Framework to Distributive Leadership:
Level 1: Organizational Leadership (structures)
Level 2: Emergent Leadership (structures)
Level 3: Current professional, political, social and cultural contexts
Level 4: Past professional, political, social and cultural contexts
Highly successful school districts, in terms of sustainability, must recognize that isolated pockets of leadership produces pockets of excellence and not systemic excellence. To truly ensure sustainable leadership that is systemic and repeatable, a distributive leadership approach and processes must be designed and implemented. There must be a seamless flow between all levels of the organization with a clear purpose, identification of roles, transparency and accountability.
The role of the Superintendent is vital to the success to leadership sustainability. Threats abound that act against the school district’s ability to not only identify the change that is needed but to implement processes necessary to evolve the school district into an adaptable organization. A courageous and effective superintendent recognizes this need and develops the organizational capacity to transform their school district. Institutional knowledge and capital cannot rest solely with an individual rather, must be ingrained in the culture of the school district. The average tenure of a superintendent is 3 years necessitating the need to shift power from individuals to the organization.
Sustainable leadership processes that are distributive will be the difference between average school districts and great school districts. It is not just one more thing rather, it is the central core of the organization’s operational protocol. Districts that not only believe but practice distributive leadership practices will be able to meet the rapidly changing demands on public education.