Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Shared and Distributed Leadership

As a leader, do you share and distribute leadership...and why?

If you do an online search of terms like shared leadership or distributed leadership, you will literally uncover hundreds of thousands of links.  There are likely as many understandings of these terms as there are people who use them.  But what do they mean to you? 

As leaders, we are exposed to a great deal of leadership terminology and we often bring it into our daily vocabulary.  However, do we have an understanding of what these terms mean for us and our practice?  Shared and distributed leadership are great examples to work with.  What do they mean to you - the same thing or different things?  What do they look like in your practice?  Do you use them in your work?  Do you use them intentionally for a particular purpose?  The questions go on....

The issue here for leaders is this: When it comes to shared and distributed leadership, can you explain your understanding of these terms, how you display them in your practice, and for what purposes?  Too often, leaders may be tempted to hand unappealing tasks over to colleagues under the guise of sharing and distributing leadership. This is simply dumping jobs the leader doesn't want to do into the laps of others.  Staff members can see through this type of behaviour.  The impact of this is that leaders can appear to be in power positions to unload work they don't like onto others. 

The next time you think about passing a task along to a colleague, or to share and/or distribute your leadership, ask yourself if you are doing this in the best interest of the person and the organization.  If you have solid and purposeful reasons for sharing/distributing leadership with others then you're probably setting up a valuable learning experience for this person.....and your integrity as a leader stays intact.

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