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ERIC Number: EJ779236
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0036-6439
In Praise of Top-Down Leadership
Dufour, Richard
School Administrator, v64 n10 p38-42 Nov 2007
In the ongoing debate of the efficacy of top-down versus bottom-up strategies to improve school districts, top-down is clearly losing. Many district leaders are reluctant to champion improvement for fear of being labeled with the epithet "top-down leader," the unkindest cut of all. In this article, the author presents the change processes in three districts that attempted to implement professional learning community concepts in their schools using three approaches: (1) autocratic; (2) laissez-faire; and (3) loose-tight leadership at work. Thus, he states that if some regard the scenario described in District C as top-down leadership, then he comes to praise top-down leadership, not to bury it. Moreover, it is clear that improvement initiatives will not occur unless there is buy-in, a willingness of those engaged in the initiative to rally around it and without this buy-in you will only generate resentful compliance that dooms the initiative to inevitable failure. Leaders should certainly use every component of an effective change process and commit to what Elmore, in his 2006 book "School Reform from the Inside Out: Policy, Practice, and Performance", refers to as "reciprocal accountability." This principle calls upon leaders to help build the capacity of the members of the group to accomplish what they have been asked to accomplish.
American Association of School Administrators. 801 North Quincy Street Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22203-1730. Tel: 703-528-0700; Fax: 703-841-1543; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Administrators
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Association of School Administrators, Arlington, VA.
IES Cited: ED544210