Benchmarking Distributed Leadership in Higher Education Institutions

Sandra JONES
RMIT, Australia

Macquarie University, Australia

Geraldine LEFOE
University of Wollongong, Australia

University of Southern Queensland, Australia

RMIT, Australia


Leadership in higher education is recognized as requiring collaborative engagement of a diverse range of members of the academic community. Distributed Leadership has been recognized as appropriate for the higher education sector, particularly for its ability to build leadership capacity (Anderson & Johnson 2006). A recent national survey, of the practice of distributed leadership in Australian higher education institutions, identified a limited inclusion of distributed leadership within leadership development programs offered by universities. This is in contrast to the adoption of an enabling resource designed to assist institutions to take action to use a distributed leadership approach to enhance learning and teaching (Jones, Harvey, Lefoe & Ryland, 2011, . One hypothesis to explain the reason for the limited inclusion of distributed leadership in university leadership development programs is the lack of an articulated means to measure the effectiveness of action taken to enable distributed leadership. Responding to this, benchmarks for distributed leadership have been developed. The benchmarks for distributed leadership were informed by the research, by practice-based evidence, and by the results of the national survey. These benchmarks consist of five domains each further identified into elements with associated good practice descriptors. The benchmarks for distributed leadership have been tested through consultations with a broad range of learning and teaching experts. This showcase will present these benchmarks and engage participants in discussion as to how they may be further incorporated into leadership development programs in higher education institutions.

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