You are here

Participative Leadership

15 January, 2016 - 09:23
Available under Creative Commons-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Download for free at

Because policy is determined within a participative framework, the principal is expected to adopt participative leadership strategies. Heroic models of leadership are inappropriate when influence and power are widely distributed within the institution. “The collegial leader is at most a “first among equals” in an academic organisation supposedly run by professional experts . . . the collegial leader is not so much a star standing alone as the developer of consensus among the professionals who must share the burden of the decision.” (Baldridge et al, 1978, p. 45)

While transformational leadership is consistent with the collegial model, in that it assumes that leaders and staff have shared values and common interests (Bush, 2003, p. 76), the leadership model most relevant to collegiality is “participative leadership,” which “assumes that the decision-making processes of the group ought to be the central focus of the group” (Leithwood et al, 1999, p. 12). This is a normative model, underpinned by three criteria (Leithwood et al, 1999):

  • Participation will increase school effectiveness.
  • Participation is justified by democratic principles.
  • Leadership is potentially available to any legitimate stakeholder. (p. 12)

Sergiovanni (1984) claims that a participative approach succeeds in “bonding” staff together and in easing the pressures on school principals. “The burdens of leadership will be less if leadership functions and roles are shared and if the concept of leadership density were to emerge as a viable replacement for principal leadership” (p. 13).