Distributed leadership has gained currency among researchers and practitioners of educational leadership. Notwithstanding its increasing popularity, there is relatively little empirical evidence about what leadership roles, or to what extent, principals actually distribute their leadership. Evidence that links distributed leadership to improved school achievement remains far from confirmatory. Consequently, many scholars have called for more large scale empirical studies in this area.
To address the paucity of empirical knowledge about distributed leadership, this study aims to provide empirical evidence of distributed leadership by studying the scope and pattern of the distribution of leadership tasks by 220 Hong Kong secondary principals in seven leadership dimensions previously validated in Hong Kong. It was found that Hong Kong principals distribute leadership tasks most in the dimension Teaching, Learning and Curriculum and least in the dimension Leader and Teacher Growth and Development.
Furthermore, the study attempts to relate the extent of leadership distribution to improvements in five areas of organizational outcomes, namely leadership capacity, teachers' capacity, school collegial culture, principals' job satisfaction and student learning outcomes. By means of multiple linear regressions, the positive effects of distributed leadership on each of these five organizational outcomes were verified and confirmed.
However, positive effects of distributed leadership can be achieved when some internal necessary conditions for effective distributed leadership, including leadership expertise of senior staff, coordination of leadership, and the atmosphere of mutual trust exist in an organization. In this study, the intervening effects of these necessary conditions on outcomes of distributed leadership are also scrutinized. Using linear regression with dummy variables, Coordination of Leadership was found to be the most significant intervening variable