What is Shared Leadership?
Sometimes in my workshops I share the story about the dreaded “college group project”. My project group was usually made up of 4-to 5 people. Inevitably you ended up with three people who were actual “doers”, a “slacker” and a “poser.” ( I might be showing my age)
By the end of the project you respected the slacker more than the poser. How could that be?
The slacker was honest with the group that they were not going to produce much. The slacker always grabbed the low hanging fruit and ran with it. However, the poser talked a big game and took on important chunks of the project. Even after chasing and following up… The poser never delivered. The team got burned and ended up pulling an all-nighter. The poser represented “All talk and no action!”
This ended up putting more on the three who were in fellowship to succeed. Oh… And by the way, the slacker would all of a sudden kick in something to appear that they were saving the day. The group appreciated the effort in the moment but still felt shorted when the final grade was earned by the group.
When John Maxwell talks about momentum he points out that there are Momentum breakers, takers, fakers and makers. Breakers stop momentum, Takers sap momentum, Fakers stage momentum and Makers start momentum by what they say and do.
Shared leadership is when everyone is determined, connected and participates in the fellowship of success; thereby, making momentum happen. It is when “leadership” is owned by the whole system as opposed to individuals or the formal leader.” (Komives, Lucas & McMahon) It is when everyone is interactive and determined to find the best outcome… No room for slackers or posers!
Regardless of position or title there are some common questions to help determine if I am engaging in shared leadership. These questions revolve around self-accountability. In short, if I can’t be accountable to myself how can I be accountable to a team?
I would ask you to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) for each of the questions I routinely ask myself…
- Do I manage myself well?
In other words, do you manage your words and action on a daily basis? Those around you observe and hear what you say and what you do. My mentor’s and coaches often reminded me to be impeccable with my words and actions because they mean something as a leader of oneself, and if fortunate enough, a leader of others.
- Am I committed to the organization, core cultural values and the people outside of myself? Am I a team player?
Make no mistake, everyone can be a leader within an organization or team; however, it is up to the senior leadership to define the key results and develop their core cultural values. Once established there is clarity… It becomes real and achievable. It now becomes my responsibility and self-accountability that drives me to the key results and shared success.
“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
-Jack Welch, General Electric
- Do you build your competencies and focus those efforts for maximum impact? (Are you committed to improving yourself)
One of the hardest things a person can do is be consistently true to themselves as there are many influences and social exchanges that impact daily behavior. However, those that work on improving themselves daily have a far better chance of differentiating themselves. They exchange ideals and help to grow those around them. They are principled and disciplined in their approach and seldom viewed as ambiguous or wavering.
- Are you courageous, honest, and credible? (In other words, can people turn to you and rely on you?)
The experience you create is the belief people have about you. Therefore, over time you are trusted, a motivator by example and by action. The results begin to speak for them self. Simply you have displayed impeccable action and words. You are courageous, honest and credible.
When the many are in fellowship to achieve these same standards it becomes shared leadership at its core. Shared leadership is when a team member is empowered and respected for their contribution. They are valued for the satisfaction and pride they take in their role of helping achieve the collective goals and vision.