Western frameworks for school improvement, including the stakeholder model and the model of decentralized leadership, have recently been promoted as solutions for school improvement. Using early childhood education in Hong Kong as an illustrative case, this article focuses on the power and authority of leadership in school decision making. The interview data collected from the two case study schools reveal a paradox of power in leadership that is characterized by tensions between centralization and decentralization in the change process, where decentralization is advocated by policymakers but traditional hierarchical cultures remain. The relationship between the leaders and school stakeholders incorporates a concept of harmony that functions to defuse the potential power struggle embedded in decision making. Copyright © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.