The Development and Implementation of an Intelligent Hierarchy Leadership Process in an Elementary School

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Virginia Tech


Leadership in modern-day schools is changing. School leaders are expected to oversee the physical plant and school finances, as well as to be the instructional leader, personnel officer, public relations specialist, and point person for the accountability efforts at all governmental levels. Principals cannot be experts in every area of school administration; thus, they are more dependent on other members of the educational team. The purpose of this study was to develop and implement a form of shared leadership in an elementary school known as an intelligent hierarchy, to test whether such a model affects the distribution of decision-making, climate, and morale within the school (Leithwood & Mascall, 2008).

This was a mixed-methods, action-research project in which the principal of the school served as a participant observer. A leadership team was formed consisting of the principal, teachers, support staff, and parents to aid in the decision-making process. Qualitative data were collected in the form of minutes of leadership team meetings, journal entries by the principal, and minutes of meetings with individual teachers. A modified version of the constant comparative method (Maykut & Morehouse,1994) was used to analyze the qualitative data. Quantitative data were collected with questionnaires administered three times each throughout the course of the study. Data were collected on shared leadership, the distribution of decisions, school climate, and teacher morale. The implementation of the hybrid model of shared leadership led to improvement in the areas of shared leadership, shared decision-making, and employee morale. Improvement was evident in some areas of school climate. The result is a model administrators could implement, either in whole or in part, to track the implementation of shared leadership in their schools.



Leadership, Intelligent Hierarchy, Hybrid Leadership, Shared Leadership, Shared Decision Making, School Climate, Teacher Morale