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Leadership for the 21st Century

By Michael Chirichello, International Educational Consultant

Collective Leadership

Collective leadership is different from shared and participatory leadership (Drake & Roe, 2003). It transcends distributive leadership (Elmore, 2002). Collective leadership is built on a culture that values relationships. As relationships are built, the staff learns from the collective experiences of each other (Drath, 2001). In a school led by a transformational leader, a collective culture emerges as followers become leaders and leaders step out of the way to become followers. Followers feel empowered to lead.

Open climates, in which school leaders are supportive and teachers are collaborative, will be nurtured in schools if we value collective leadership- a leadership that is based upon self-efficacy through empowerment, one that will hold everyone equally accountable for student success. In schools that embrace collective leadership, teacher and principal collaboration abounds. Professional conversations focus on teaching and learning. Life-long professional learning becomes a shared value and leads to opportunities for substantive, on-going staff development and professional autonomy for teachers in risk-free environments.

Not Me, But We

To maximize their impact, school leaders must focus on WE more than me. They must discover their new role, a role which supports collective leadership. No longer can we view school leaders as simply instructional leaders (Fullan, 2014). School leaders must recognize that they are education leaders who constantly strengthen the capacity of the organization and grow new leaders. In this role, school leaders act as visionaries, embracing a transformational mindset, a mindset that inspires and influences others. And this will impact teacher efficacy which, in turn, will have a positive effect on student learning outcomes.


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Browne, D. (2018). Relationships are fundamental. School Administrator, 75 (8), 25-27, AASA.

Chirichello, M. (2004, Spring). Collective leadership: Reinventing the principalship, Kappa Delta Pi Record, 40 (3), Kappa Delta Pi.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2018). What makes social-emotional learning so important? School Administrator, 75 (8), 20-24, AASA.

Drake, T.L. & Roe, W. H. (2003). The principalship. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Merrill Prentice Hall.

Drath, W. H. (2001). The deep blue sea: Rethinking the source of leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Elkington, R., van der Steege, M., Glick-Smith, J. & Moss Breen, J. (2017). Visionary leadership in a turbulent World. Emerald Publishing Ltd.

Elmore, R. F. (2002). Hard questions about practice. Educational Leadership, 59 (8), 22-25.

Fullan, M. (2014). The principal: Three keys to maximizing impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


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