Cultivating Senior Leadership Teams in Independent K-Through-12 Ib World Schools

Michel A Khoury, University of Pennsylvania


This study examines how the heads of successful K-through-12 independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools cultivate their senior leadership teams (SLTs). Taking an exploratory qualitative approach to my research, I selected 8 such schools from the Middle East and Europe that have distributed leadership teams in place and conducted semi-structured interviews with the school head and with 2 other members of each school’s SLT. Here, “distributed” indicates that leadership is spread over multiple individuals and situations, and teams are considered the primary means by which leadership is distributed in the context of these schools. More specifically, this study looks at what leadership structures and processes are in place in these schools, the conditions that allow SLTs to flourish, the practices that school heads use to support their SLTs, the main challenges facing SLTs, and the desired qualities of SLT members. This study’s findings show that the heads of successful independent IB World Schools cultivate their SLTs in many ways: They employ a more distributed leadership style that involves trusting and empowering their SLT members and delegating authority, with the defining structural feature being the presence of multiple layers of leadership teams. The school heads also employ a more hands-on leadership style. They ensure that the SLT has a unified vision and a strategic plan, and that all roles are clearly defined. They manage SLT communication, and create an atmosphere of trust by being approachable, by actively listening to their SLT members in an open-minded, compassionate, and empathetic manner, and by making themselves available to their SLT members. They maintain a strong sense of accountability among all SLT members, although they mostly do so without setting formal individual key performance indicators. They encourage their SLT members to seek out professional development opportunities. Finally, when hiring new members to their SLTs, they prioritize the qualities of experience / expertise (and especially pedagogical knowledge), risk-taking / innovation, openness and approachability, agility, and resilience / commitment.

Subject Area

Educational leadership

Recommended Citation

Khoury, Michel A, "Cultivating Senior Leadership Teams in Independent K-Through-12 Ib World Schools" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27545392.