This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Understanding the Distributed Leadership Experiences of Principals, Assistant Principals, and Teacher Leaders in High Schools




Holloway, Mary

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The theory of distributed leadership is a relatively new concept; thus, it has been under researched. It is important to understand distributed leadership because there is a need to acknowledge an even broader perspective of leadership. The principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders are all key players in translating distributed leadership theory into practice. The researcher utilized a multiple-case study approach to capture the essence of the theory of distributed leadership translated into practice in three high schools. Principals, assistant principals, and teacher leaders were interviewed in their school setting to afford the researcher an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of their perspectives. The researcher analyzed similarities and differences within and across the three cases. All three groups perceived that leaders who promote a broad perspective of leadership practiced distributed leadership in the school. Assistant principals and teacher leaders perceived that when leadership is distributed in schools, collective activities that promote a cohesive environment take place and there is a coordinated flow of communication. However, principals and teacher leaders ascertained that a lack of buy-in/ownership was a challenge that existed when distributed leadership was practiced in schools. The findings from this study of principals,’ assistant principals,’ and teachers leaders’ perceptions of the practices and the benefits and challenges of the distributed leadership theory confirmed what the literature states about the theory of distributed leadership.