Due to the increasingly complex business world, many growing organizations introduce shared leadership. The philosophy of shared leadership lies in optimizing human capital to provide the best possible solution to various issues surrounding the organization. To be successful, shared leadership requires several conditions, which must be met.
Shared leadership allows co-leaders to combine and complement their strengths in technical and soft skills, as well as allowing them to work on their weaknesses by learning from each other. For instance, in a technology company, co-leadership would greatly assist in both the technology side and the business side. This would allow the company to prioritize both the research and development of the products and the profit-making abilities.
In an organization that’s run 24 hours non-stop, for example, co-leadership is urgently needed, so leadership is always available. In an emergency where a strong and effective leadership is necessary, a co-leader would be able to provide direction without having to wait while critical hours pass. This way, stakeholders would feel more secure and team members can focus on tasks at hand knowing someone is reachable at any time during the day or night.
According to Marshall Goldsmith in his article “Sharing Leadership to Maximize Talent” in Harvard Business Review (Ref: https://hbr.org/2010/05/sharing-leadership-to-maximize), there are seven important things to be aware of.
1. Encourage the most qualified individuals by giving them the opportunity to lead.
It should be done with much care, as unnecessary rivalries among the more qualified individuals could create unnecessary friction that can harm teamwork.
2. The decision-making capacity must be well defined.
Clarity and transparency provide the necessary foundation for decision-making activities. This being said, boundaries of each co-leader must be defined to ensure good collaboration between them.
3. Make team members feel encouraged to take initiatives.
This would require co-leaders to work together in creating a safe environment for team members to speak up, give feedback, and provide suggestions without being asked. Problems can be detected early this way.
4. The more qualified an individual, the more autonomy will be provided.
Such autonomy must be based on track record and experiences either within or outside the organization, which is especially necessary for high-level leadership.
5. Decisions should not be second guessed.
Create a culture where decisions made shouldn’t be second guessed by team members, as co-leadership may create some confusion if the individuals sharing the leadership have different opinions on various issues and create unnecessary anxiety among members.
6. Co-leaders should consider themselves facilitators and mentors instead of managers.
The best leaders serve, not give orders. In co-leadership, the leading individuals are “servers,” thus they facilitate team members together with mutual understanding. They do need to manage as well, but the managing roles can be created for individual technical managers who are the most qualified.
7. Follow-up reviews and evaluations are highly encouraged.
To ensure that co-leaders are on the same page on various issues, it is important to give reviews and evaluations periodically. Encourage team members to give feedback and provide suggestions at any time so that transparency can be upheld.
At last, shared leadership could be what your organization needs to survive in a complex and ever-changing business world. Whenever a leader can no longer handle the workload optimally, or the organization grows too rapidly that more brains are required, it is time to seriously consider shared leadership.
ABOUT JOSE J. RUIZ
He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.
An important part of his time is spent on research work focused on organizational effectiveness centered on leadership and culture. Prior to joining Alder Koten, Jose was a Principal with Heidrick & Struggles’ Global Industrial Practice based in Houston, TX and Monterrey, Mexico.
His professional experience also includes leadership positions in engineering and operations management for manufacturing organizations in the US and Mexico. This experience includes serving as vice president and general manager at Holley Performance Products. Jose is a bi-weekly contributor at Forbes.com.mx writing about executive leadership and career development.
Jose holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
Jose can be reached at jose.ruiz@alderkoten or at his office in Houston +1 (713) 476–9000