Strategy guide:
Vision and strategy

A few notes before getting started

Your team’s structure
This document is intended to be used by teams working to design and implement collective leadership. It is imperative that the team model collective leadership during the design and implementation process. We suggest forming a leadership team of educators to work through the big questions and important tasks below. The team should be comprised of educators in various roles with diverse perspectives. The group must be transparent and regularly consider ways to scale collective leadership beyond the leadership team and include an increasing number of people in the process. 

The framework’s structure
The framework is divided into three parts: Understanding your team’s why, Designing your team’s how, and Implementing the plan. Each part has two areas of focus: “Big questions” and “Important tasks.” Answering the “Big questions” will involve intense study and open discussion. We recommend that your team come to decision points on each big question before moving to “Important tasks.” You can download these resources by clicking on the button below each part of the strategy framework. Scroll further to access additional background resources and research to support your work.

Resources and guides
The “Big questions” and “Important tasks” include valuable resources or guides. We have annotated these resources and guides to save you time selecting the best information for your context. Remember, these resources are intended as a starting point. Part of the process will be adaptation to meet your local needs, context, and goals.

Strategy guide

1. Understanding your team’s why

The vision and strategy for collective leadership should be collectively developed by members of the school community. That vision and strategy should be based on your team’s core beliefs about why collective leadership is important and what it can accomplish for students, teachers, and any other individuals impacted by this shift (see the Overview discussion starter).


Goal: Establish a theory of action

What do you need for the staff at the school to know about the associated vision and strategy for collective leadership? In other words, what burning questions might they have about the vision and strategy for collective leadership, and how will answers to those questions help you develop the vision and strategy in your context?


Big questions
  • Why are you letting go of traditional top-down structures? What are you saying no to in terms of vision and strategy for collective leadership?
  • What do you believe about the collective capacity of the adults in your school to meet the needs of your students? What is your vision for how the collective capacity of educators can lead and be strategically deployed?
  • What do you believe about the capacity of students to learn when all of the adults involved in their schooling take ownership of that learning? What is your vision for how student learning will improve when all of the adults collectively own student outcomes?
  • When collective leadership is fully implemented in your school, what will be different? What will be better?
  • How might collective leadership support help your efforts to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  • What is your theory of action for how collective leadership can impact outcomes at your school?

Important Tasks

Assemble a team that represents multiple diverse stakeholders from within your school community. 
Be sure to include representatives of those who will be charged with carrying out the vision and strategy for collective leadership. You may also want to include representatives of those who will be impacted by the shift toward collective leadership.

Develop a process for collective creation of the vision and strategy for collective leadership implementation.
The team selection and development process reflect the beliefs stated in response to the questions above. For instance, if you state that you believe in the collective capacity and leadership of teachers, implementing a top-down mandate for how the process is developed does not align with stated beliefs.

Create your team’s theory of action about how a vision and strategy will support efforts to implement collective leadership in your school.



Connect and collaborate
Teams frequently struggle with developing a theory of action. Remember to articulate your goal and identify the problem of practice before developing the theory of action.

Need help crafting a theory of action?


2. Designing your team’s how


Nearly every school has a vision statement that articulates what that school community intends for their learners. A vision statement is a view into the future that describes a school’s inspirational, long-term plan for what they’ll be able to accomplish and the students they will serve. It is frequently out of reach for now but attainable over time. The vision statement gives everyone a description of what they’re working toward and should be used to guide all decisions about how the school is structured and how it operates, which leads to strategy. The strategy should be developed to ensure that the vision becomes a reality.

As schools begin to shift toward a more collective leadership model, it is important that the community collectively develop a vision and strategy for that shift. Confusion can be avoided if the vision and strategy are collectively developed because the people charged with implementing the vision and strategy are the ones who developed it.


Goal: Prepare to lead action

Who will participate in the investigation, exploration, study, or pilot? What is the timeline? What support will be provided?


Big Questions
  • How will the staff at your school engage in the development of a vision and strategy for collective leadership? How might the process developed model collective leadership?
  • How will implementing collective leadership serve the vision that you have for your students? Will it allow you to better meet their needs? Will it model the ways that they will be working in the future? 
  • How will the vision and strategy be communicated to the larger school community?
  • How might school community members’ (staff, students, families, etc.) behaviors be expected to change as a result of implementation of this vision for collective leadership?
  • How will the school community collectively develop the anticipated and expected behavioral shifts together?

Important Tasks

Charge the team with defining a vision and strategy for collective leadership implementation. The vision and strategy should be built from the contributions and input of all impacted constituents and align with the beliefs articulated in the big questions above. 

Identify specific strategies and processes that will integrate the use of the vision and strategy into the everyday life of the school community. Read and use the questions in this document to inform your team’s decisions about creating and actualizing the vision and strategy for collective leadership.

Create a plan for communicating the vision and strategy to the larger school community. Structure the communications plan so that it engages the school community in the co-ownership of the vision and strategy. Remember that people will own what they help to create so be explicit about what input was gathered from constituents and how that input is reflected in the vision and strategy. 

Complete the Purpose Map to set the vision, identify the people who should be involved, and create the initial action plan for testing your team’s idea. For ideas about how to design and implement a pilot, check out the structure and resources in this micro-credential or contact CTQ.

Complete and use an action timeline tool like the one below to clearly articulate what will get done by whom and how the team will know that you have been successful.


Is your team interested in support for using these tools? Do you need hard copies?


3. Implementing your team’s plan


Now that the team has articulated the why and how for developing the vision and strategy for implementing collective leadership in your school, it is time to implement your team’s plan. Because the shift to collective leadership is a change in the fundamental way that work gets done, we encourage your team to integrate this plan into any other strategic planning process that takes place in your school. We have also provided additional tools in case that is not feasible right now.

What does your team need to do to implement and learn from the plan?

The implementation phase of the work is about much more than carrying out the components of your team’s plan. In order to ascertain the effectiveness of the plan, data must be collected for evaluation. It’s helpful to remind yourself of your original goals as you prepare to gather the feedback needed.


Goal: Launch your team’s test, gather data, and study the results

Once the test is underway, gather the data needed to answer your burning questions. Analyze the data and results of your initiative. Decide whether your team wants to revisit vision and strategy or move on to another condition.


Big Questions
  • What is the timeline for vision and strategy development? When will work start? How will the team know when their work is done? Who will be responsible for which tasks?
  • What resources (time, people, and money) will the team need to be able to do their work?
  • What tools will the team use or need to gather input from all stakeholders (educators, students, parents, school staff, etc.)?
  • What constraints will the team have? What autonomies?

Important Task

Implement the plan for how your school will define, communicate, and use the vision and strategy for collective leadership implementation. Be sure to articulate what success will look like and then track progress relative to the definition of success.


Want assistance measuring the impact of your efforts?




CTQ’s tools 

Understanding your team’s why
1. Establishing a Theory of Action

Designing your team’s how
2. Purpose map
3. Action timeline

Implementing your team’s plan
5. Impact assessment