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Critical Reflection: Seven Strong Claims About Successful School Leadership Revisited Assignment Sample

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Introduction: Critical Reflection: Seven Strong Claims About Successful School Leadership Revisited

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This critical reflection aims to discuss the article "Seven Strong claims about successful school leadership revisited" (Leithwood et al., 2020). However, it shall be mentioned that after interpreting the article, I agree with the author’s content and claims. Similarly, the critical reflection shall discuss why I agree with the content. Some evidence shall be provided to support my statements.


The author has claimed that “school leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an influence on pupil learning”. I agree with the claim as school leadership affects the characters of school organizations that positively influence the quality of teaching and learning. To support my belief, it shall be mentioned that Grissom et al. (2021) have started analyzing school leadership using the database given by Leithwood and coworkers in 2004 in the "Wallace Foundation commissioned school leadership research review" and using their evidence and further collecting other necessary data, Grisson et al.,(2021), started interpreting about school leadership. The research findings reported that one of the most important tasks for school leaders is to ensure students receive the highest quality of teaching and that school leadership is second only to classroom teaching and the central task of leaders is to enhance employee performance and that in turn, influences the pupil learning positively. The report summarizes that research has traced the connection between student achievement and school leaders and mentioned that leaders are second to classroom instruction within all the school-related issues that contribute to what learners learn in school, and that helps to understand successful leadership and school leadership. 

The next claim by Leithwood et al. (2020) is that “almost all successful leaders draw on the same repertoire of basic leadership practice”. The article has mentioned that successful leaders practice certain basic functions, such as setting direction by developing a shared vision, communicating the vision, identifying specific goals and creating high-performance expectations. Successful Leaders also build relations by stimulating the professional capacities of staff, providing support and establishing productive working places and others. They also develop the organization to support desired practices such as developing a collaborative culture and distributing leadership, structuring the organization to facilitate collaboration, connecting the school with a wider environment, maintaining hygiene and safety in school and allocating resources to meet the organizational goals. Moreover, leaders also practice improving instructional programs, including providing instructional support, monitoring students learning and improvements, and buffering staff from distractions and others. I agree with the claim as I believe that all successful leaders show the practices mentioned above, and there are no other approaches other than the mentioned range. To support my statement, it shall be reflected that Sølvik & Roland (2022) conducted research including the methodology of group interviews in Norway and reported that successful leaders show similar practices such as transforming leadership theory into practice, setting collective goals, and directions, enhancing collective professional learning in school that stimulate professional learning, develops collaborative culture, monitors students, monitors safety procedure and others.

The third claim by Leithwood et al. (2020) is that “the way through which leaders apply basic leadership practices demonstrate responsiveness rather than the dictation of context where they work”. It reflected that leaders are sensitive to the context where they find themselves but do not include different leadership practices. When the context changes, rather they include contextually sensitive combinations of basic leadership practices. I also agree with the context. To support my statement, it shall be discussed that leaders are responsive to the context and understand as well as respond to various contextual demands. Pont (2020) mentioned that school leaders play a role in school functions, but their practices depend on a certain context. Education systems are evolving, and school leaders are responsible for leading the activities of educators who prepare students for the future. In the 21st century, the external and internal context is changing, such as technological improvements, political factors, competition, parent demands and others, and the factors are interconnected as satisfying every factor helps overall school improvement. Governance is becoming complex and professional responsibility is increasing. Schools are introducing the latest technologies, new collaborations, and modern curricula. Schools engage with horizontal professional practices in their workforce, and activities are becoming more networked. Such changes are also changing the role of school leaders, and they have to interpret, navigate and make sense of their respective schools and work in new ways. Thus, they must apply basic leadership practices as context changes and the context is interconnected.

The fourth claim by Leithwood et al. (2020) is that “school leaders improve teaching and learning indirectly through their influence on staff ability, staff motivation and working condition”. The claim mentioned that there are certain mediators, including rational emotions, and family and organizational conditions, and there are "paths" that influence those mediators and that, in turn, influence the student learning process. The rational path includes the skills of school staff members, the emotional path includes the feelings, trust of teachers and others, the organizational path includes interaction among organizational members, safety conditions of the institutes and others, and the family path includes the home environments. Improving all the above-mentioned mediators helps to improve the teaching-learning process. I completely agree with the claim as Budiharso et al. (2020) collected data from 293 faculties of the educational institutes in Indonesia and used structural equation modelling and factor analysis to reflect the findings. The result highlighted that working conditions impact the quality of education. I believe that every educator has family issues, emotional struggles, organizational challenges and rational issues, whereas addressing all these issues and enhancing the mediators helps to enhance the well-being of the education as well as motivate them. That indirectly influences staff ability. Likewise, they become able to contribute accurately to their profession and enhance the teaching-learning process. Nguyen et al. (2020) mentioned that when school leaders offer a supportive working environment (including a safe environment, breaks, accurate wages, collaborative management and others), it motivates the educators, develops their trust in the organization, enhances their mental health and that indirectly helps to contribute accurately to the teaching–learning process.

The fifth claim reflects that “school leadership has great influence on school as well as on students when it is distributed widely”. Distributed leadership reflects shared management. For example, distributed management occurs when the managed altogether discusses professional development, resources to support the learners, school-based programs and others and then take a shared decision; when the management becomes shared, it becomes more effective. Distributed leadership includes a team of educators and management from various levels, grades, and subjects, and they collaborate to reflect positive school-wide change. Rather than focusing on the individual leader or character of a situation, distributed leadership focuses on activities that are distributed throughout the organization. Similarly, I agree with the claim and believe that distributed leadership has more influence on the students and on the school as Torres (2019) conducted research including hierarchical linear modelling or HLM and explored the relationships among distributed leadership and their influences. The research result reflected that distributed leadership focus on the school community utilizing untapped expertise, such as pushing the educators to enhance their skills, and giving them complete independence to nurture their work and others so that educators' engagement and knowledgebase can improve and that can improve student outcomes. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD data also confirmed the findings and highlighted a positive association between distributed leaders and the school has been identified. Moreover, when teams shares similar insights, then an effective and creative decision can be made for the staff and teachers, and they can learn new strategies students and the school as a whole shall be benefitted.

The next claim by Leithwood et al. (2020) is that “some patterns of distribution are more effective than others”. Leithwood et al. (2020) reflect that pattern of distributed leadership and ways of leadership practice enactment, when distributed, influences the educational institution's performance. It has been mentioned that the effect of distributed leadership on the organizational commitment of teachers was influenced by the distribution and quality of leadership functions, cooperation of the leadership team, social interaction as well as participative decision-making. Teachers become more strongly committed to the school when informal leadership responsibilities are shared by patterns of expertise. However, different patterns have different effectiveness. Again I agree with the claim as I believe that there are different distribution patterns, and each has varied impacts. To support my statement, it shall be highlighted that Montecinos et al. (2020) conducted research including the methodology of interviews with the head of the curriculum unit, the principal and two departmental heads of nine different high schools. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the gathered data from the interview. The findings highlighted that there are certain patterns in distributed leadership, such as hierarchical managerial control patterns where the principal, funder of the organization, board of directors and other senior members exercise their influence in school improvements. A hierarchy is maintained where decision-making occurs from top to bottom. They put their efforts into collaborations to enhance their institution, next pattern is participatory management, where external agents or school teachers participate in the decision-making body along with school leaders and senior members, and they influence improvements and others. All approaches have varying degrees and improvement priorities. For example, the hierarchical managerial control is rigid as it does not engulf the views of the junior employees and follows the traditional approaches. Although it helps to maintain a steady improvement, no innovation is included. On the other hand, in a participatory pattern, the junior’s voices are heard, and that helps in innovations and to meet the present changing demands. Thus, it can be confirmed that there are different effects of different distributional patterns.

The last claim by Leithwood et al. (2020) showcases that “small handful of personal traits explains a high proportion of the variation in leadership effectiveness”. The claim mentioned that there are specifically three traits, including cognitive resources such as problem-solving expertise, systematic thinking, domain-specific knowledge; the next trait is social resource, including perceiving emotion, acting in an emotionally appropriate way and managing emotions. The last trait is psychological resources, including optimism, self-efficacy, proactive and resilience. The claim describes that all these traits of leaders create variation in them. Again I agree with the claim, and to support my statement, it shall be highlighted that Martinez et al. (2020), using the MSL or Multi-institutional study of leadership, reflected that school leaders have a wider influence on shaping responsible leadership capacity. The article confirmed that every leader has a different combination of traits some might have expertise in cognitive resources, and they can have strength in systematic thinking, and others they shall be capable of reflecting innovations and so on but might not have strong emotional stability, and some leaders might have strength in psychological resources and have extremely strong emotional stability that helps to deal with personal and professional issues and to contribute effectively in developing the school but might not be efficient in reflecting confidence. Uhrich et al. (2021) also confirmed that some leaders might have expertise in social resources and have strength in self-efficacy and emotional intelligence, and they can win every challenging situation through their confidence and emotional intelligence, but they might not be capable of reflecting creative abilities. Thus, personal traits result in variation in leadership effectiveness.


Thus, to conclude, it shall be reflected that I agree with all the claims that have been presented by Leithwood et al. (2020). The assessment has mirrored my belief regarding the claims and evidence confirming those beliefs. Thus, I agree with the claims that school leadership is second to classroom teaching as an influence on learning; I also agree that almost all successful leaders have similar practices; the method through which leaders apply leadership practices demonstrates responsiveness and does not dictation the context they work, school leaders improve the teaching-learning process, school leadership approach is widely distributed, and different distribution patterns have different effects. I also agree with the claim that a small amount of personal traits reflects a high amount of variation in the effectiveness of leadership.


  • Budiharso, T., & Tarman, B. (2020). Improving quality education through better working conditions of academic institutes. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies7(1), 99-115.
  • Grissom, J. A., Egalite, A. J., & Lindsay, C. A. (2021). How principals affect students and schools. Wallace Foundation.
  • Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2020). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership revisited. School leadership & management40(1), 5-22.
  • Martinez, N., Sowcik, M. J., & Bunch, J. C. (2020). The impact of leadership education and cocurricular involvement on the development of socially responsible leadership outcomes in undergraduate students: An exploratory study. Journal of Leadership Education19(3), 32-43.
  • Montecinos, C., Cortez, M., Zoro, B., & Zett, I. (2022). Senior leaders’ theories of action for managing subject departments as a school improvement strategy. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 17411432221089200.
  • Nguyen, P. T., Yandi, A., & Mahaputra, M. R. (2020). Factors that influence employee performance: motivation, leadership, environment, culture organization, work achievement, competence and compensation (A study of human resource management literature studies). Dinasti International Journal of Digital Business Management1(4), 645-662.
  • Pont, B. (2020). A literature review of school leadership policy reforms. European Journal of Education55(2), 154-168.
  • Sølvik, R. M., & Roland, P. (2022). Teachers’ and principals’ diverse experiences expand the understanding of how to lead collective professional learning among teachers. International journal of leadership in education, 1-24.
  • Torres, D. G. (2019). Distributed leadership, professional collaboration, and teachers’ job satisfaction in US schools. Teaching and Teacher Education79, 111-123.
  • Uhrich, B.B., Heggestad, E.D. and Shanock, L.R., 2021. Smarts or trait emotional intelligence? The role of trait emotional intelligence in enhancing the relationship between cognitive ability and performance. The Psychologist-Manager Journal24(1), p.23.
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