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Recently, distributed leadership (DL) has become a popular approach to leadership across the social sciences, including education. This article documents reasons for the emergence of a distributed perspective and summarizes some of the background against which DL’s popularity emerged, in a field of study with a traditional adherence to leadership understood individually rather than collectively. When considered empirically, leadership practice in education and beyond is neither exclusively individual nor collective, but manifests degrees of co-existing individualism and collectivism. By implication, this hybrid or mixed patterning has to be reflected in a revised unit of leadership analysis. For this purpose, the article proposes a leadership configuration. To substantiate the argument, a range of illustrative social science evidence is drawn upon, some of which suggests that leadership hybridity may not merely be a contemporary phenomenon, but stretches back in time to include pre-modern social formations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-172
Number of pages5
JournalManagement in Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • collective
  • configuration
  • distributed
  • hybrid
  • leaders
  • leadership

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