This paper draws on research into what constitutes ‘effective leadership’ from the perspective of FE employees. It highlights FE staff’s preference for what we term ‘blended leadership’, an approach that combines specific elements of both traditional hierarchical leadership with more contemporary aspects of distributed leadership. FE staff prefer leadership practices that provide structure, clarity and organization as well as team-working, communication and a shared sense of mission, responsibility and accomplishment.
Within the literature on both education and on leadership, distributed and hierarchical models are typically seen as opposing polarities. Frequently, distributed leadership is highly valued whilst traditional approaches are criticised as outmoded. By contrast, this working paper suggests that FE employees continue to value important elements of a directive leadership approach combined and integrated with aspects of a distributed style.
Our research finds that in the FE sector, such ‘blended leadership’ practices are routinely accomplished in the context of multiple, conflicting, shifting and contradictory demands on FE colleges.