Shared leadership is like a sharing party where everyone gets a turn to call the shots. It's all about collaboration, trust, and giving every team member a chance to shine.

Shared leadership boosts creativity, team spirit, and engagement. Think of it like a cool potluck where everyone brings their secret recipe for success.

One powerful approach to enhance your team’s performance and drive business growth worth exploring is shared leadership. In this article, we’ll delve into the concept of shared leadership, its benefits, and how you can apply this leadership style to foster a thriving team and achieve outstanding results. So, let’s dive in and discover what is shared leadership.

What is Shared Leadership?

Shared leadership is a dynamic leadership style that distributes authority, decision-making, and responsibility across a team or organization. 

Unlike some of the traditional and outdated hierarchical structures, where authority rests solely with the leader, shared leadership empowers team members to actively contribute to decision-making processes and take ownership of their roles.

Watch the video below to learn how to reduce stress and build a flexible team structure with scrum:

The Shared Leadership Theory

The shared leadership theory is rooted in the belief that effective leadership is not the sole responsibility of a single individual, but rather a collaborative effort. It recognizes that every team member possesses unique skills, perspectives, and expertise that can contribute to the overall success of the business.

Shared leadership is based on the belief that leadership is not confined to a single individual but can be distributed across team members. It enhances team performance and organizational effectiveness by leveraging the diverse expertise and perspectives of team members.

Shared leadership enables leaders to tap into the collective intelligence of their teams, fostering innovation, and improving decision-making. This style is particularly effective in multiteam systems where collaboration and coordination across different teams are crucial.

The shared leadership style is built on relational processes, emphasizing the importance of trust, communication, and social connections among team members.

What is the Shared Leadership Style?

The shared leadership style emphasizes the importance of collaboration, shared accountability, and mutual respect within a team. Rather than relying on a single person to make all the decisions, shared leadership encourages the delegation of authority and promotes a more inclusive and democratic work environment.

Learn more about what is shared leadership: 

Can 2 people lead a team?

Yes, two people can indeed lead a team together. This is known as co-leadership or dual leadership. Co-leadership occurs when two individuals share the responsibilities, authority, and decision-making power of leading a team or organization.

Co-leadership can be beneficial in several ways. It allows for the pooling of different skills, expertise, and perspectives, which can lead to more well-rounded decision-making and problem-solving. The co-leaders can complement each other’s strengths and provide support in areas where the other may have limitations. Additionally, co-leadership can distribute the workload and responsibilities more evenly, reducing the burden on each individual leader.

To make co-leadership successful, effective communication, collaboration, and mutual respect are crucial. The co-leaders need to establish clear roles and responsibilities, establish shared goals and a shared vision, and maintain open lines of communication to ensure alignment and coordination.

It’s important to note that co-leadership requires a strong foundation of trust, cooperation, and effective teamwork. The co-leaders must work together harmoniously, resolve conflicts amicably, and demonstrate a united front to the team. With the right balance of communication, coordination, and collaboration, co-leadership can be a successful and impactful leadership approach.

Is shared leadership Transformational?

Shared leadership and transformational leadership are two distinct leadership concepts, but they can often be complementary to each other.

Shared leadership refers to the distribution of leadership responsibilities, authority, and decision-making across a team or organization. It emphasizes collaboration, empowerment, and mutual respect among team members. Shared leadership encourages active participation and contributions from all team members, allowing for a more inclusive and democratic work environment.

On the other hand, transformational leadership is a leadership style that focuses on inspiring and motivating followers to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Transformational leaders are known for their ability to inspire and engage their team members through vision, charisma, and a focus on personal growth. They often challenge the status quo and empower their followers to reach their full potential.

While shared leadership itself may not inherently possess all the characteristics of transformational leadership, it can certainly create an environment that supports and enhances transformational leadership. In a shared leadership context, team members have more autonomy, responsibility, and opportunities for growth. This environment of collaboration and empowerment can enable transformational leaders to inspire and motivate their team members even more effectively.

When shared leadership and transformational leadership are combined, they can create a powerful synergy. Shared leadership provides the structure and mechanisms for collaborative decision-making and shared responsibility, while transformational leadership brings the inspiration, vision, and motivation to drive exceptional performance and growth within the team.

Overall, while shared leadership and transformational leadership are distinct concepts, they can work together harmoniously to foster a high-performing and engaged team.

How do I create a shared mindset?

Creating a shared mindset among your team members is a key aspect of implementing shared leadership. Here are some steps to foster a shared mindset:

  • Communicate the vision: Clearly articulate the shared vision, goals, and values of your business. Help your team understand the bigger picture and how their individual contributions align with the overall objectives. This creates a sense of shared purpose and direction.
  • Encourage open dialogue: Foster an environment where open communication is valued. Encourage team members to share their ideas, opinions, and concerns freely. Actively listen to their perspectives and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and respected.
  • Celebrate diversity: Recognize and appreciate the diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives that each team member brings. Encourage the sharing of different viewpoints and ideas. Create an atmosphere where differences are seen as strengths and opportunities for growth.
  • Lead by example: As a leader, embody the shared mindset you want to cultivate. Demonstrate openness, collaboration, and a willingness to learn from others. Model the behavior and attitudes you expect from your team members.
  • Establish shared goals and accountability: Involve your team in setting shared goals and objectives. Ensure that these goals are clearly defined, measurable, and aligned with the overall vision. Encourage accountability by assigning responsibilities and holding each team member responsible for their contributions.

Remember, creating a shared mindset is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and reinforcement. By nurturing a culture of open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect, you can cultivate a shared mindset that fosters shared leadership and drives the success of your team and business.

Characteristics of Shared Leadership

Shared leadership is characterized by several key attributes that differentiate it from traditional leadership styles. These include:

  • Collaboration – fosters a culture of collaboration, where team members actively participate in decision-making processes and work together towards common goals.
  • Empowerment – empowers individuals by providing them with opportunities to make meaningful contributions and take ownership of their work. It promotes a sense of autonomy and responsibility among team members.
  • Trust and respect – thrives on trust and respect among team members. When individuals trust and respect one another, they are more likely to share ideas, communicate openly, and collaborate effectively.
  • Continuous learning – encourages a culture of continuous learning and growth. Team members are encouraged to develop new skills, share knowledge, and seek feedback from one another to enhance their collective performance.

Delegation and Sharing Leadership

Shared leadership and delegation go hand in hand. Delegating tasks and decision-making empowers individuals and promotes trust and collaboration. It lightens the leader’s workload and fosters a sense of ownership and accountability within the team. Delegation within shared leadership is like passing the torch, empowering others to take on responsibilities, and collectively driving success.

If you are not used to delegating, the video below is just what you need:

Pros and Cons of the Shared Leadership Style

Like any leadership style, shared leadership has its advantages and challenges. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Increased creativity and innovation: Shared leadership leverages diverse perspectives and ideas, leading to more creative problem-solving and innovation within the team.
  • Enhanced employee engagement: When employees are actively involved in decision-making and have a sense of ownership, they are more engaged and motivated to perform at their best.
  • Improved teamwork and collaboration: Shared leadership promotes a collaborative work environment, fostering strong relationships and effective teamwork among team members.
  • Distributed workload: By delegating authority and responsibility, shared leadership ensures a more equitable distribution of workload, reducing the burden on a single individual.

Cons:

  • Potential for conflicts: Differing opinions and viewpoints may lead to conflicts within the team. Effective communication and conflict resolution strategies are essential to address these challenges.
  • Decision-making may take longer: Decisions may require input from multiple team members, which can slow down the decision-making process. Efficient communication channels and streamlined processes can help mitigate this challenge.

Shared Leadership v.s. Distributed Leadership

While shared leadership and distributed leadership are often used interchangeably, it’s important to understand their subtle differences. Let’s take a closer look at these two leadership approaches:

Shared Leadership

Shared leadership emphasizes collaboration, collective decision-making, and the equal distribution of authority and responsibility among team members. It recognizes that every team member has unique skills and perspectives to contribute to the team’s success. In shared leadership, the focus is on fostering a shared sense of ownership, accountability, and empowerment within the team.

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leadership, on the other hand, focuses on assigning leadership roles and responsibilities to different team members based on their expertise and strengths. It acknowledges that leadership is not limited to a single person but can be distributed across various individuals within the team. In a distributed leadership model, each team member takes on leadership responsibilities in their specific area of expertise.

While both shared leadership and distributed leadership emphasize the importance of collaboration and shared decision-making, their emphasis may vary.

Shared leadership places a stronger focus on collective ownership and empowerment, allowing team members to contribute to decision-making across various aspects of the business.

Distributed leadership, on the other hand, allocates specific leadership roles to individuals based on their expertise, recognizing and utilizing their specialized skills within the team.

It’s worth noting that these two leadership styles are not mutually exclusive and can often be combined within an organization or team. The specific implementation of shared or distributed leadership will depend on the unique needs, goals, and dynamics of the business or project.

By understanding the differences between shared and distributed leadership, you can be better at choosing what is the most suitable leadership approach for your teams.

How to Practice Shared Leadership 

Starting to practice shared leadership when you’re not used to sharing power and control can be a transformative process. Here are some steps to help you get started:

  1. Shift your mindset: Recognize that shared leadership can lead to better outcomes by leveraging the strengths and perspectives of your team members. Embrace the idea that you don’t have to do it all alone and that collaboration can yield great results.
  2. Build trust: Shared leadership requires trust among team members. Foster an environment of trust by being transparent, communicating openly, and valuing everyone’s contributions. Encourage your team to share their ideas, opinions, and expertise without fear of judgment.
  3. Delegate gradually: Start delegating tasks and responsibilities in small increments. Begin with tasks that are less critical or have lower stakes. This allows you to build confidence in your team’s abilities while gradually expanding the scope of delegation.
  4. Provide support: When delegating, ensure your team members have the necessary resources, information, and support to succeed. Offer guidance, provide training if needed, and be available for questions or assistance. This helps build their confidence and shows your commitment to their success.
  5. Encourage autonomy: Shared leadership involves empowering team members to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. Encourage autonomy by granting them the freedom to make choices and supporting their decisions, even if they differ from your own approach.

With persistence, open-mindedness, and a genuine commitment to fostering a collaborative work environment, you can successfully practice shared leadership and reap the benefits of a high-performing team.

Whether through shared or distributed leadership, the goal remains the same: to create a collaborative, empowered, and high-performing team that drives business growth and achieves outstanding results.

Build your high-performing team now. Download the Self-Managing Business Roadmap available in the free video training below to start:

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