Component Overview: Leadership Teams

Why is it important to have Leadership Teams focused on standards-based education?

While leadership teams in educational settings support and manage many aspects of an organization, the Portal focuses on aspects that are connected to the implementation of effective instructional practices. In a standards-based education system, stakeholders acknowledge that student outcome goals require changes in instructional practices. Therefore, leadership teams focused on Standards-based Education are accountable to providing the infrastructure and supports necessary for use of effective instructional practices. Research (Fixen, Blase, Timbers, and Wolf, 2007) reveals that leadership teams with an understanding of implementation can dramatically:

· Increase the likelihood of reaching full implementation of effective instructional practices resulting in improved student outcomes.

· Reduce the time it takes to reach full implementation of effective instructional practices .

· Increase the likelihood the effective instructional practice will sustain over time.

Connecting Leadership Teams

Leadership teams within an organization, as well as those across an organization that have shared responsibility for implementation of effective instructional practices are referred to as linked teams. Linked teams are intentionally designated to support the work of other teams. For example, a district team supports the school teams and the school team supports the teacher teams. Coordination across these teams, including joint problem solving efforts and communication loops are necessary in order to:

· understand changes needed for ongoing improvement of the support and infrastructure provided to implement effective instructional practices

· respond to barriers in a timely manner

· use improvement cycles to make meaningful changes, alleviate barriers, and achieve expected outcomes

Transformative Leadership

Full implementation of effective instructional practices requires movement of a complex and entrenched system through meaningful change and understanding how to respond to resistance that can arise in the process. Transformative leaders learn how to make use of adaptive strategies, which offer useful ways to re-understand the work of leadership. For example, transformative leaders understand the difference between “authority” as a formal position of power and “leadership” as the act of helping people achieve meaningful change. Heifetz & Linsky (2002) note that “authority” is organized to provide direction and maintain a stable system. When systems undergo change, the natural tendency of those in the system is to look to those in authority to minimize the tension of change and regain stability. This natural tendency toward status quo is exacerbated when formal authority inadvertently gets in the way of leadership efforts that are designed to support change. When organizations and systems are being changed on purpose, transformative leadership is needed to manage the change process. More information about adaptive challenges are provided in the knowledge and skills for the leadership teams component and also in other parts of the portal.

How do leadership teams learn what’s required in a Standards-based Education system?

Guidance and resources throughout the Portal are specifically designed to support the work of Leadership Teams. The following actions are recommended:

· Examine the SBE Functions of Leadership Teams
· Select members for leadership teams based on shared understanding of the knowledge and skills needed
· Establish effective processes and procedures for leadership teams in a standards-based education system


Heifetz, R. A., Grashow, A., & Linsky, M. (2009). The practice of adaptive leadership. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press. Heifetz, R. A., & Laurie, D. L. (1997). The work of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 75(1), 124-134.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's FPG Child Development Institute (2013-2017). The National Implementation Research Network’s Active Implementation Hub. (Link to the website)