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Shared Leadership – tapping into the potential of the team

Welcome to the March newsletter!

2018 has certainly started off with a bang, and we have been flat out supporting our clients on a range of interesting strategic leadership,  planning and team coaching assignments. 

This month we focus on Shared Leadership. At Collective Possibilities, teamwork and leadership are more than just responsibilities, they are key influencing activities which support the direction, alignment and commitment of a team to reach its goals. 


Shared Leadership – tapping into the potential of the team

In this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world we now live and work in, new ways of working  together and sharing leadership and authority is critical for success. Traditional hierarchies can be slow to respond, leaving an organisation frozen and unable to adapt. Further, traditional hierarchies place too heavy a burden on “the leader” and  oftentimes too little expectation on staff in the team.

In common vernacular, the language surrounding ‘leadership’ and the role of ‘leader’ is problematic. We refer to those holding senior positions in our communities, governments and organisations as ‘leaders’, when more accurately, we could describe them as those with authority to govern or manage. For me, enactments of leadership are not restricted to ‘leaders’ holding formally sanctioned organisational authority. Rather, I understand leadership as a relational activity of mutual influence, infused with purpose, which encourages collective effort towards mutually satisfying goals.

This means that we can and do, all enact leadership; self-leadership included. Leadership moments exists for us every day. They might involve us seizing opportunities to influence an outcome, providing insight, speaking up, listening and asking questions, or, demonstrating kindness. Enactments of leadership, both from those with designated authority and those outside traditional authority structures, make important contributions to facilitating the realisation of organisations where people develop and thrive.

Shared leadership draws on the potential of the team, facilitating increased initiative and creativity, improving the quality of decision making and  generating increased levels of motivation and enthusiasm.  Shared leadership relies on collaboration and good communication;emphasising good process and participation.

Shared leadership:

  1. Promotes shared knowledge and tapping into people’s smarts – reducing the likelihood of one person holding key information and one person alone having the answer to VUCA problems
  2. Capitalises on individual’s unique skills and expertise
  3. Defines accountability and decision-making through shared responsibility and built-in checks and balances.
“Coming together is a beginning,
keeping together is progress;
working together is success.”

– Henry Ford

“You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.”  — Sam Rayburn