Shared influence

What we need to do is learn to work in the system, by which I mean that everybody, every team, every platform, every division, every component is there not for individual competitive profit or recognition, but for contribution to the system as a whole on a win-win basis.

– W. Edwards Deming


Interested in how your school is doing with creating a culture of shared influence for collective leadership? Use one of the self-assessments in the linked document below.

What do we mean by shared influence?

What shared influence looks like: Teachers and administrators are regularly observing others’ practice and providing feedback around shared goals. Both teachers and administrators invite feedback for improvement.

Schools that demonstrate high levels of shared influence between teachers and teachers and teachers and administrators are exemplified by open-door policies. Teachers can come to administrators with challenges or suggestions, and classrooms are open for reciprocal observation and administrator walkthroughs. These types of schools are not hierarchical and leadership is not “distributed” as if leadership is a series of tasks that an administrator doles out. These schools emphasize collective teacher efficacy, the belief that each student in a school can learn because of the effectiveness of each teacher, and they depend on the collective expertise of the entire faculty and administration, particularly as it relates to teaching and learning. Schools with strong shared influence do not operate in a top-down manner, nor do they operate in a grassroots, bottom-up manner. Leaders work together in a flat organization where shared goals drive the work. Strong schools leverage the expertise of all to determine shared goals, track progress toward those goals, and aggregate feedback from members of the team.

The importance of shared influence

The task of educating all of our students is too big for one person to be singularly responsible for achieving. Yet, our system is structured so that administrators are frequently designated as the people responsible for achieving that goal by managing the what, how, and when of teacher work. Unfortunately, this system is antiquated and sets up educators (both administrators and teachers) for burnout (see table below). 

A culture of shared influence must be present in order for the power and potential of collective leadership to be realized. Shared influence allows the work of educating all of our children to become a collective endeavor and provides a means by which to leverage the knowledge, skills, and talents of all of the adults in a school. Without shared influence, burnout is likely to ensue.


Is your team ready to dive into the work of creating a culture of shared influence for collective leadership? Complete the form below to get access to all of the conditions strategy guides.


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