Leading Change – Tapscott’s open leadership model for change

Don Tapscott (TED, 2012) outlines 4 principles of an open leadership model for the future for managing change.

– collaboration;
– transparency;
– sharing; and
– empowerment.

He describes our current society entering an ‘age of networked intelligence’ or group intelligence. Leadership in this type of model is present but there is not one leader, rather a momentum of thought.

How can these principles be applied to school libraries or teacher librarians??

Collaborating with classroom teachers, senior teachers, students and the wider school community when initiating change ensures that you engage with those around you with skills and experiences that can contribute to change. Creating a scenario of interdependence where you can use others to develop and progress is essential to creating change beyond your own capabilities only. An example of this is conferencing with teachers about developing collaborative units of work, or working with senior management, teachers and students to develop a new library design.

Being transparent means an open process to communicate and share information. Communicating goals and values, progress and setbacks breeds integrity in the change process and creates trust, a vital component to ensuring successful change (Browning, 2013. p15). Producing mission statements, library policy documents, library development plans, newsletter reports and end of year reports are a way of communicating clearly to the school community.

Sharing information refers to the practice of providing intellectual property for the use of others or to gain feedback. In practical terms this could involve providing copies of end of year reports to other schools to analyse and compare data or to copy a program or unit of work that has had an impact on student learning.

The concept of empowerment reminds us that by empowering those around us to be responsible for change or to have a role in the process of change gives everyone a sense of power and freedom, and a stake in the outcome. In this way there is a sense of inclusion and the result is more likely to successful. This could mean brainstorming ideas to improve lending rates, delegating tasks like improving the website or making displays more visible, to library staff and seeking feedback how to make things better.

Consider how this understanding of the 4 principles can support you in leading change at your school or in your school library?

Upon reflection I feel that the main message of this style of leadership is that being connected to your learning community is the key to successful change. Working closely with others, seeking valuable knowledge and experience, sharing your goals, ideas and vision and allowing others to fully see what you are hoping to achieve is essential. In this way all involved feel a sense of ownership and the final outcome is surely better as it is a culminating product or not just one leader but a collective.


TED. (2012, June 28). Don Tapscott. Four principles for the open world [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8

Browing, Paul. Creating the conditions for transformational change. Australian Educational Leader; v.35 n.3 p.14-17; September 2013. Retrieved from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=200657;res=AEIPT


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