We’ve been thinking a lot about leadership types and collaboration. Personally, we’ve always been strong proponents of collaboration in leadership roles. We believe everyone works best when leaders work with everyone, not just dictate what needs to be done in a classroom.
In Dr. Peter DeWitt’s new book “Collaborative Leadership: Six Influences that Matter Most,” Dr. DeWitt breaks down leadership into these four types.
- The Bystanders
- The Regulators
- The Negotiators
- The Collaborators
1. The Bystanders.
These are leaders that don’t define any positive goals and don’t inspire stakeholders to collaborate. They have low growth performance and low partnership qualities. With leaders like this, teachers work in silos and the principals remain in their office more than they make attempts to be visible.
2. The Regulators.
Leaders who define the goals for their teachers and the school. Although they have high performance, they control the whole environment. These leaders know what idea they want to walk out of a meeting with well before they ever walk into the meeting.
Unfortunately, they don’t inspire true partnerships around the school as much as they promote compliance, which ultimately creates a hostile school climate where teachers wait to be told what to do.
3. The Negotiators.
Negotiators seem as though they’re inspiring collaboration, but what they’re really doing is defining the goal behind closed doors. They slowly make their way around the school or district and get people on board with their ideas. They create coalitions. This works, just as long as stakeholders believe in the goal, rather than feel they have to achieve it because it’s coming from the top.
4. The Collaborators.
These leaders find the perfect balance between inspiring stakeholders to collaborate and co-constructing building and classroom-level goals. They believe in a high level of transparency and honesty and have a high level of performance because stakeholders feel as though they have a voice in the process. Collaborative leaders use social media as one way to communicate with parents, and they utilize technology in ways that will maximize impact.
Dr. DeWitt charts these leadership types based on partnership and performance too. Collaborators have high performance and high partnership, while on the opposite end bystanders have low performance and low partnership.
By identifying your leadership type, you can take steps to change or improve your style. Maybe you’re a negotiator looking to be a higher performer, a bystander looking to make a huge change, or a tried-and-trued collaborator just looking to spread the good word. Whatever your type is, as you honestly identify yourself, you can work your way into higher levels of performance and partnership and become the true collaborator your school needs.
Mary Black works with teachers and principals in creative and strategic planning for curriculum and instruction at schools with diverse student populations. She has years of leadership experience in secondary schools, beginning her educational career as a high school English teacher in an urban high school, also serving as a high school principal. She is currently Program Manager and the Certified SIM Professional Development Leader for the SIM team at Region 13.