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The value of a teacher leader lies firmly within the leader-member exchange theory leadership. This is a dynamic relationship-based interchange between professional members of a work community, including teacher leaders. Leaders work to build unique, highly functioning relationships with his/her colleagues to further the goals of the organization as well as its members. Teacher leaders can take many routes to gain leadership abilities, both through training and through opportunities that arise within schools around the world (Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium, 2011). 

The leader-member exchange highlights the relationships between supervisors and their subordinates, rather than specific characteristics of a leader. This exchange is based on open communication, honesty, and mutual trust, underscoring independence and critical thinking (Power, 2013). The caliber of those exchanges impacts the subordinate’s quality of work and outlook of their employment and employer (Bauer & Ergoden, 2015). 

Modern educational systems focus highly productive, relationship-based teams within larger, vision-driven organizations. These are called Professional Learning Communities and Professional Learning Teams. Work such as Learning by Doing and “Teacher Leadership: Why Teachers Must Be Leaders” in Teaching Exceptional Children point how these highly functional and focused teams cultivate dynamic conversations between those on a team (Ludlow, 2011). These relationships are based on open communication, and keeping goals in mind (DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Many, & Mattos, 2016). As other works have cited, the leader-member exchange points out the qualities of a leader: one who can build highly productive relationships with the majority of the workforce. This is how careers and companies are progressed. 

Highly functioning teams are based solely on relationships, something today’s domestic schools need to reexamine. Teams of talented, professional teachers, leaders, administrators and counselors work to collaborate with their leaders in order reciprocally verbalize the needs of their students and make policies and procedures that best outline how this learning is going to take place (Clemens, Milsom, & Cashwell, 2009). These open lines of non-political communication allow for honesty, vulnerability, and genuine feedback regarding teaching, counseling and leading practices. The goal, as always, is to try and make all stakeholders feel like they are a part of the process.


Bauer, Tayla; Ergoden, Berrin (2015). The Oxford Handbook of Leader-Member Exchange. New York, NY 10016: Oxford University Press. 

Clemens, E. V., PhD., Milsom, A., D.Ed, & Cashwell, C. S., PhD. (2009). Using leader-member exchange theory to examine principal-school counselor relationships, school counselors’ roles, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. Professional School Counseling, 13(2), 75-85. Retrieved from 213269826?accountid=28844 

DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., Many, T. W., & Mattos, M. (2016). Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (3rd ed.). Bloomington, IN: The Solution Tree Press. 

Ludlow, B. (2011). Teacher leadership: Why teachers must be leaders. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(5), 6.

Power, R. L. (2013). Leader-member exchange theory in higher and distance education.International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14(4). 

Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium (2011). Teacher leader model standards. Retrieved from

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