Term of Award

Spring 2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Arthur, Linda M.

Committee Member 1

Sharon M. Brooks

Committee Member 2

Barbara J. Mallory


Recent leadership literature calls for distributed leadership where the principal is not the sole leader in the building. Despite already being overloaded with classroom and other responsibilities, teachers are taking on leadership roles and school leadership is becoming distributed among many individuals. This study was an examination to discover how leadership becomes distributed in one rural Northeast Georgia elementary school recognized for its collaborative efforts to improve teaching and learning. A case study was conducted, and leadership practices were observed. Four questions guided this study: How is leadership distributed? What operational practices are in place so leadership can be extended to many leaders in the school? How do leaders complete their tasks? How have relationships between teachers and between the principal and teachers been affected as a result of distributed leadership? Data were gathered through individual interviews, focus group interviews, observations, and the analysis of documents. The data show that leadership becomes distributed in three ways: committee work, leadership based on expertise, and informal leaders engaged in leadership actions. Distributed leadership results from faculty meetings, task force meetings, and grade level horizontal team meetings. The results of this study suggest several implications for practice. First, the positional leader must be committed to distributing leadership among many individuals. Second, a collaborative culture must be in place in order for distributed leadership to occur. Third, everyone must be working toward the same vision and goals. Fourth, distributed leadership practices must be tied to student achievement, and fifth, practices must be embedded into the school culture to allow for distributed leadership.

Research Data and Supplementary Material