Shared Leadership: Understanding the benefits of this organizational model and how it works

For a long time, leadership models based themselves on mottos such as “One must lead, and the others, obey.” This kind of model is all about leadership being focused on a single person, with companies as strict hierarchies. Beginning in the 1970s, however, the changing economic context began to transform the concept of singular, absolute leaders into one of shared leadership.

Anderson Sant’Anna, the coordinator of the Center for the Development of People and Leadership at the Dom Cabral Foundation, as cited in Abílio Diniz’s article (in Portuguese) on shared leadership, defined this new model as seeking to aggregate values through flexibility, innovation, and creativity.

The importance of leadership in a business environment

According to Kim Cameron, the author of the book Positive Leadership – Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, organizations from all business sectors have realized that a properly formulated and executed leadership strategy can powerfully influence a company’s performance, elevating its results to exceptional levels.

Whether we are talking about the armaments industry, healthcare or financial services, public or private companies, multinationals, or educational entities, positive leadership practices have a profound impact on a company’s targets and desired results.

In one of our articles on leadership, we refer to three exercises which can help reveal your hidden potential through self-knowledge and an understanding of the outside world.

Reasons to implement shared leadership

Take a quick look at some of the benefits that can accrue through the practice of shared leadership in this article (in Portuguese) by José Roberto Marques, a columnist for the IBC Portal – Brazilian Institute of Coaching:

  • The act of sharing leadership promotes innovative and committed behavior among team members;
  • Shared leadership positively transforms the composition of verticalized companies, reintegrating teams;
  • Individuals at the firm create bonds of interdependence through the exercise of shared leadership, favoring teamwork;
  • Freedom and the ability to speak out during the execution of shared activities increases levels of satisfaction and company identification among its members;
  • Example of positive behavior and the proactivity of shared leadership affects everyone within the company, broadly motivating teams;
  • Successful results that are achieved through shared leadership lead to a recognition of the participative nature of each employee’s contribution to that success, causing teams to actively desire growth for the company.

When is the ideal moment to implement shared leadership?

Interest in the study of alternative models to one of absolute leadership – among them shared leadership – has grown dramatically in recent years, changing the way companies are managed and organized. Within this environment, understanding how organizations can achieve more innovative results is crucial to ensuring their survival and continuing competitiveness.

It is therefore ideal to immediately begin the adoption of a shared leadership format through partnerships. This is particularly the case if your firm is a large one with multiple lines of business and sectors – as leadership is shared to a greater extent, tasks will become easier to divide and complex activities simpler to manage.

Before we move on to a discussion of the best way to set up this model, it is essential that you come to understand your role and that of your future partner as leaders. We wrote an article on leadership and motivational trends for this decade. Also, we included tips on how to get out of your comfort zone, and we discussed the trends in the composition of high-performance teams. This knowledge is indispensable for good leadership in any organizational model.

How shared leadership can benefit companies and partnerships

In addition to its association with innovation, the growing prevalence of team-based work favors the adoption of shared leadership, which is why work in groups is prevalent in this model.

Shared leadership and partnerships between leaders bring along with them a number of changes to the workplace and the composition of teams, as the model based on following an absolute leader or hero figure falls by the wayside.

When leaders understand that most employees are just seeking some space and a measure of recognition, it is easy to understand how shared leadership can motivate staff, elevating both team performance and the company’s results. It is critical to know what to look for in a possible partner and to follow some basic rules of coexistence when looking to implement shared leadership based on partnerships.

>> Recommended Reading: How to Lead a Team in Three Key Words

How do groups best work together?

Although different types of companies have their particular strategies on how to best implement shared leadership, some issues should always be observed in the distribution and exercise of power.

Abraham Zaleznik, in an article for the Harvard Business Review, reported that the market had established a new ethic based on collective power, favoring shared leadership.

The scope, control, and balance of the division of powers must be guaranteed in such a way as to focus corporate culture on an ethic of friendly rivalry, encouraging harmonious individual and group dynamics. Therefore, leaders must carefully set limits to the exercise of power in their leadership, to achieve the following:

  • Avoid situations where the use of power leads to difficulties or prejudicial outcomes for other members and teams;
  • Do not equate the power of leadership with the ability to achieve results;
  • Be aware and thereby avoid the risks associated with an excessive accumulation of power;
  • Act with self-control to prevent or suppress the desire to exercise power beyond that which is strictly necessary.

Tips for implementing a model of shared leadership

José Roberto Marques, from the IBC Portal, also stated that dialogue is always the best starting point for any change in the management model of your company. Additionally, to establish shared leadership in partnerships, it is essential to:

  • Always keep your partner and team informed about new ideas;
  • Never insist on implementing immediate changes without discussing the need for such changes with your partners and colleagues;
  • Allow partners and team members to interact freely by enabling them to take the initiative;
  • Look at shared leadership as an organizational method, exercising a more convivial type of leadership.

>> Recommended Reading: Performance Management – Great Bosses Versus Great Leaders

A tool for every kind of leader

When it comes to shared leadership, there’s no doubt: using an online management tool like Runrun.it is indispensable. The software will permit you to organize and manage your activities more efficiently, ensuring transparency, communicability and trust and leading to the creation of an ideal environment within your company. Sign up for a free trial right now at http://runrun.it

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