Distributed leadership: friend or foe?

Alma Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Citations (SciVal)


Distributed leadership is now widely known and variously enacted in schools and school systems. Distributed leadership implies a fundamental re-conceptualisation of leadership as practice and challenges conventional wisdom about the relationship between formal leadership and organisational performance. There has been much debate, speculation and discussion about its positive and negative aspects. This article considers the evidence. It examines the facts concerning distributed leadership. It does not claim to be a systematic review of the literature but rather draws upon the available empirical evidence to highlight what we know. The article considers the implications, arising from the evidence for those in formal leadership positions. It concludes by reflecting upon the role of the formal leader within distributed leadership and outlines some of the challenges and tensions associated with distributed leadership practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-554
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Management Administration and Leadership
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • leadership development
  • leadership practice
  • organisational change
  • Organisational improvement


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