Many studies show that school leadership is a key factor in supporting change within schools, but few have specifically considered the impact leadership has on gains in students' reading outcomes. This article focuses on factors that typify leadership in schools where such gains have been identified and explores the nature and quality of leadership that contribute to a school environment conducive to improving the reading achievement of 10-to 12-year-old students. Interviews were conducted with principals and other relevant parties at five New Zealand primary schools. Findings showed that the schools' principals were openly passionate about raising students' literacy achievement. They provided tangible support for all staff, particularly in the form of whole-school professional development in literacy. They trusted their staff, worked collaboratively with them and were committed to using summative standardized reading assessment as a means of identifying students' ongoing literacy needs and tracking the assessment of learning.