This article reports on the findings of senior leadership interviews in a nationally funded project on distributed leadership in the quality management of online learning environments (OLEs) in higher education. Questions were framed around the development of an OLE quality management framework and the situation of the characteristics of distributed leadership at the core of the framework. The project’s premise is that distributed leadership is a descriptive reality of managing OLEs given the various leadership parties involved and the complexities of the contemporary technological landscape. Leaders’ understandings of distributed leadership were examined—its nature, value and potential for advancing the quality management of OLEs. There was confirmatory evidence of its reality, but its meaning and value were not uncritically accepted. It can be concluded that building distributed leadership must start through deliberative formal leadership commitment and action starting at the highest levels of the institution.