Empowered leaders

Stakeholders at every level empowered to be leaders in effecting consistent systemwide change

What is it?

True systemwide change requires leaders who are empowered to experiment, make decisions, take risks and adjust their course. While the term leader usually refers to those in traditional management roles, such as superintendents and principals, it can also refer to stakeholders at any level within the system — including teachers, staff, support staff and even students. Empowering stakeholders at all levels creates a system of proactive leaders who are able to make critical decisions about their own learning and teaching, help each other solve problems, and enact change within and across their own spheres of influence.

Why is it important?

To make and sustain the transition to a standards-ready system, stakeholders will need a tremendous amount of trust, collaboration, communication and responsibility across the board. This requires a shift in culture to a distributed and cooperative model in which leadership is situational and contextual and does not have to rely on traditional structures and formalized approaches to make decisions within the system.

By empowering stakeholders at all levels to make decisions and solve problems, the system becomes better able to leverage existing strengths and expertise while strategically applying current resources in more judicial ways.

What does it look like?

Instead of a hierarchical governance model that implements change from the top down, a standards-ready system features bottom-up distributed leadership and decision making. Leadership in this case is plural, implying the importance of a shared governance model that enables and motivates the entire organization to shepherd change.

In a culture that empowers leaders at all levels:

  • Superintendents support administrators when they take up issues on behalf of teachers.
  • Administrators empower teachers to take risks while providing support on critical issues. 
  • Teachers and stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input on policies and are able to address issues in a supportive environment.