What Is Shared Leadership?

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Shared leadership, as opposed to traditional leadership styles with a small number of leaders at the top, distributes responsibilities among team members. Discover more about leadership styles.

 

What Exactly Is Shared Leadership?

A shared leadership model distributes leadership responsibilities and decision-making power throughout an organization so that team members can help lead each other to success. This style, also known as distributed leadership, contrasts sharply with vertical leadership, which assigns a small number of team leaders—sometimes as few as one person—to manage the rest of the team.

While shared leadership is not as traditional and rigidly hierarchical as vertical leadership, it can still be somewhat hierarchical. However, shared power relationships are more prevalent at each level than in top-down structures where one person leads many others.

 

Shared Leadership Characteristics

Team members have the following responsibilities under shared leadership:

A shared vision: In shared leadership, teams understand the organization's common objectives and values, as well as the projects and tasks they carry out.

Coaching: Team coaching is an essential component of shared leadership. Teams can work out problems as well as opportunities for leadership development in a workshop setting. This can include providing others with the tools they need to succeed within this model, as well as brainstorming solutions to problems with cohesion and identifying issues with leadership practices or processes.

Recognition: While shared leadership focuses on the unit, you should still recognize individuals for their accomplishments. This promotes teamwork by recognizing and appreciating each other's strengths. Finally, this has the potential to improve team performance.

Teamwork: Teamwork is emphasized in this shared leadership model. Increase team process transparency so that everyone has access to the same information.

Trust and honesty: To maximize team effectiveness, everyone must develop trust with one another so that decision-making can result in honest, engaging, encouraging, and empowering interactions. Every team member should believe they can contribute.

 

The Benefits of Shared Leadership

This model has several advantages. According to research, the shared leadership approach is related to team effectiveness. Individual empowerment can be increased through shared leadership. Workers can step up for opportunities that align with their own skill set because they share the varied and widespread demands of leadership. This leadership style can also contribute to better self-management among teams because employees have a clear understanding of their purpose and goals.

 

The Drawbacks of Shared Leadership

This style of leadership has drawbacks, such as the fact that groups may take longer to reach a decision than a single individual or formal leader would. Furthermore, understanding accountability may be more difficult. You may need to specify whether each task has a specific owner or owners, or if everyone shares equal responsibility.

If you haven't already implemented shared leadership, it may take some time to get it going. Finally, shared leadership may not be appropriate for every team.

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