Working in teams, rather than as individuals, is foundational to learning within modern organizations (Senge, 1990). Within the context of schools, teams may take many forms. For example: (a) leadership teams share decision making, (b) interdisciplinary teams create integrated learning experiences, and (c) collaborative teaching teams differentiate instruction for individual learners.
Collaborative professional learning and decision making offer a promising model for transformational change within schools, but it is a complex endeavor presenting multiple challenges. Collaborative inquiry and decision making require individual teachers to take risks as their successes and failures are shared publicly within the group. Differing interpretations of data and varying perspectives on appropriate courses of action naturally lead to conflict which, if not managed, can result in a diminished sense of efficacy or, worse, complete group paralysis (Emihovich & Battaglia, 2000).
Principals and other school administrators who lead from below the surface (Creighton, 2005) understand that authentic collaboration yields opposing ideas which, in turn, may produce heightened anxiety. Change theorists such as Fullan (2001) advocate that school leaders must be equipped to manage the inevitable intense emotions that arise from authentic collaboration and changes in practice. Specifically, emotional intelligence has been identified by researchers (Mills, 2009; Moore, 2009; Sala, 2003) to be one such tool that is positively associated with effective leadership.