PhD defence Robert Mentink: School leaders and the leadership paradox

Een groep van enkele rode pionnetjes en één zwart pionnetje ernaast. Foto: Markus Spiske, via Unsplash

On 2 June, Robert Mentink will defend his PhD thesis De ‘beliefs’ van schoolleiders bij gespreid leiderschap: Over zelfbegrip van de schoolleider (The Beliefs of School Leaders in Distributed Leadership: About Self-understanding of the School Leader). While school leaders claim to give space to teachers, Mentink noticed this promise often proves disappointing in practice and set out to find a solution.

Self-understanding and awareness

In distributed leadership, school leaders promote teachers’ scope for action and leadership. However, school leaders who want to encourage distributed leadership often end up in what Joseph Kessels calls a ‘leadership paradox’.

With distributed leadership, school leaders often experience underlying tensions. To solve these, they tend to take control and limit teachers’ professional space – which is the exact opposite of what distributed leadership entails. The school leader openly claims the wish to encourage distributed leadership, but exhibits behaviour that hinders rather than promotes it.

Mentink notes that the school leader’s mostly unconscious beliefs play an important role in this backlash. His research shows how school leaders can come to greater self-understanding and awareness, so they can pinpoint their beliefs and see the role these beliefs play in leadership and in hindering or promoting distributed leadership. According to Mentink, this self-awareness ultimately leads to more freedom (of choice) in leadership.

Start date and time
End date and time
Hybrid: online (click here) and at the Utrecht University Hall
PhD candidate
R.W. Mentink
De ‘beliefs’ van schoolleiders bij gespreid leiderschap: Over zelfbegrip van de schoolleider
PhD supervisor(s)
Professor C. Bakker
Dr R. Coppoolse