Six Fundamentals for ‘Shared Leadership’

March 25, 2014

“The cream will always rise to the top” is a common metaphor meaning the most talented cannot go unnoticed for long and will ultimately move up the ladder. In a traditional organizational structure, this often means that a few great leaders drive company initiatives while everyone else follows suit, while hopefully picking up some new skills along the way. One problem with this structure is that other team members may ultimately become reliant on these leaders for overall performance success.


The concept of “shared leadership” ensures every team member takes ownership to contribute to the group’s overall success.

This means you don’t just have one or two leaders raising the bar but a team effort to ensure success. When it comes to business this shared mentality can take a group of individuals to a higher level of performance.  

In the article Future Organizations Will Use “Shared Leadership”, author Voss W. Graham lists six fundamental elements for shared leadership to flourish in a business team environment.

Fundamentals of Shared Leadership

Respect for Each Individual is the foundation of effectiveness in team performance. The key point is the understanding that each person on the team brings uniqueness to the group. This uniqueness is then honored thus creating a binding unity of the group. This creates a willingness to commit to a purpose larger than self – thus, moving everyone to the next level of performance.

Trust in Each Other is a unique factor to human beings. It is the feelings that we acquire regarding the abilities and integrity of individuals. Trust is the invisible bond that allows our expectations and standard to rise to higher levels. Trust connects each individual at an emotional level. When there is a lack of trust in a team, factors such as fear of failure, blame games, low self esteem and an over reliance upon rules and laws become the norm.

Personal Accountability for Results is a major contributor to high performance for individuals and teams. Personal accountability is the focus upon results and outcomes over activities. Under-performing groups are focused upon doing low priority activities rather than attaining results. The lack of personal accountability – the act of achieving results and outcomes – is a key reason for under-performance.

Effective Communication drives results and productivity. The key factor in making communication effective is the choices made by individuals. Most people send messages – written or spoken – in a method they understand. Unfortunately, they are missing the mark with 50 to 70% of other people. Thus, they use communication without the effectiveness factor. Time is wasted revisiting secondary clarity and understanding. The wise leader makes choices regarding the delivery of messages others will understand the first time.

Discipline to stay the course is the master key to success for teams and individuals. Discipline is needed by leaders to stay on track when adversity or difficult times become obstacles for goal attainment. A lack of discipline is the leading cause of failure in business today. Effort and discipline go together in getting greater results. Staying focused upon their highest priorities takes discipline due to all the daily distraction and noise.

Steps for Shared Leadership 

You can follow the action steps below regarding demonstrating Shared Leadership within your organization:

  • Review the last Organizational Climate Survey – look for engagement practices, effectiveness of overall communication, and respect for individuals.
  • Are the right people in the right positions so these people are using their strengths rather than their weaknesses during the day?
  • Are forums / meetings designed to encourage feedback on important projects?
  • Is Innovation / creativity encouraged and a regular part of meetings and group encounters?

Remember, although it may seem natural to become reliant on one or two all-stars to lead the team, it is in your organization’s best interest to have several individuals taking ready and willing to step up. Shared leadership cultivates an environment where this is possible equipping your organization for future success.  

Read the full article here

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