This article examines how novice principals think about and understand their new leadership role, exploring the ways in which their understanding enables or constrains taking a distributed perspective to school leadership. The article analyses the work of the school principal through the eyes of the novice principal, identifying aspects of their emerging sense of the job that appear to enable and constrain them taking a distributed approach to leadership. The analysis shows that a novice school principal's work involves certain tensions, which are not only a function of the individual choices of those who assume the principal position, but also are inherent in the principal's position itself. The article concludes by showing that novice principals experience the nature and intensity of these tensions differently depending on how the school in which novices assume their leadership posts is situated in the institutional sector.
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