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Shared leadership has benefits for everyone

Shared leadership is about empowering people to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise and moving outside of more formalised structures that can inhibit shared contribution. For instance, at a company that creates user interfaces for web design, the role of CEO was too extensive for one leader. As a result, it was split into two positions with equal status and complementary skills sets and responsibilities.


This way of leading has flowed throughout the organisation delivering a flatter structure than the usual more traditional hierarchy. This means that power, authority, and decision-making are more widely and deeply dispersed, giving each individual an opportunity to showcase their skills. It has also meant that formal leaders have learnt that they need to tap more readily into available expertise, sharing the leadership and sharing the responsibility. This is not always the easiest thing for those in authority to do.

Here are some suggestions for sharing leadership and getting the most out of your talented experts.

  • Delegate power to the most qualified individuals in the team to strengthen their capabilities
  • Define the limits of decision-making power – be sure people know where they can and cannot influence decisions
  • Cultivate a climate in which people feel free to take initiative on projects – encourage responsible risk taking
  • Give qualified people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources and encourage them to use these tools
  • Don’t second guess the decisions of those you have empowered to make them – trust your people
  • Consider yourself a resource rather than the manager

Set appropriate follow-up meetings to review progress and take corrective action if necessary. If you do delegate more to people who are closer to the end results and allow them to take on challenging responsibilities, you will find that you have more time. You will spend less time directing their projects and you may even develop a sense of accomplishment from the achievements of your people rather than from your own direct efforts. Even better, your employees may feel they are more like partners and become more engaged, ultimately paving the road for greater success for the organisation, the team, and themselves.

Adapted from HBR Blog by Marshall Goldsmith