The Nature of Leadership: A Case Study of Distributed Leadership Admidst A Participative Change Effort Open Access
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Abstract of the DissertationThe Nature of Leadership:A Case Study of Distributed Leadership Amidst A Participative Change Effort The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of distributed leadership at the University of ABC's SCPS, as the School worked to transform itself through reorganization. The study examined the perceptions of key leaders and members of the implementation team as they sought to understand the implementation of a more participative approach to change within the School. The primary question guiding this study was "What is the nature of leadership within a participative change effort in a higher education setting as perceived by active participants in the effort? The secondary question was "What is the nature of power sharing within this change effort?" This descriptive case study investigated distributed leadership at the University of ABC School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) by exploring the perceptions of leaders and the implementation team as they underwent a leadership paradigm shift that required a more participative approach. The study also explored how these academic leaders adapted to sharing power in this new change effort by examining the perceptions of change for administrative and faculty leaders as they sought to make sense of the launching of a more participative approach to change efforts. The findings from this study identified ten ways in which SCPS practiced leadership: (1) A participative approach to change influenced synergy. (2) Leader participation greatly influenced collaboration. (3) Leaders' actions created a shared sense of responsibility. (4) Change in structure influenced leader, follower behavior, and organizational culture. (5) The creation of a safe environment influenced employee conversations. (6) Engaged leaders and followers influenced decision-making. (7) Leader involvement improved efficacy of decisions. (8) The situation (tools, routines, structures) enabled leader action on process improvement. (9) A shared belief in the schools training mission influenced the mitigation of resistance and intransigence. and, (10) A focus on strategy supported collective action. This descriptive study has drawn conclusions that begin to fill the gap in understanding the nature of leadership within a participative change effort in a higher education setting as perceived by active participants in the effort. It was discovered that a participative approach to change plays an important role in leadership practice and the interactions of leaders, followers, and their situation. The tools, routines, structures, and other aspects of the situation mediated leaders' and followers' interactions, and allowed leadership practice to move to the forefront. Finally, the study concluded that a distributed perspective, when used as a design tool for School leaders, could inform future design decisions and that strategic decision making must be ongoing when designing leadership practice. The conclusions of the study prompt questions that can be resolved by further study.