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The Future of Leadership is Shared Leadership Where Everyone is a Leader

September 4, 2014



Everyone in the organization sets up a constitution with rules to adhere to. The group decides to distribute tasks. Those responsible for tasks own them. There is no micro-management.

Brian Robertson



The above quote is from the founder of the Holacracy movement made known by the recent announcement from Zappos that the company has adopted the shared leadership model.

This model and others that are being created are the future of leadership. Let’s face it in these times of fast paced technological change the current hierarchical structure cannot support speedy innovation nor does it inspire teams to work towards a mission.

So does this mean no more ‘leaders’?

Not really……

The role of leader is morphing into less of a ‘director’ and more of a ‘facilitator’ and  requires an ability to rapidly change and to respond to the dynamics of working with other leaders in a shared power paradigm.

For many traditional organizations the pathway to a shared leadership outcome is at least a decade away. For newer organizations being formed by Gen X and Gen Y in the technology, health and emerging industries the shared leadership model is being established as the structure to support innovation and growth.

It makes sense given that the hierarchical structures were established by Baby Boomers to support business before the big influence of technology. Gen X and Gen Y began to infiltrate the business culture and the timing of the infiltration converged with the technological revolution. In the last decade the focus on understanding and leading the generations resulted from a lack of engagement of Gen X and Y with the traditional structures created before the influx of technology solutions.

The shared leadership model is highly appealing to Gen X and Y and many Baby Boomers can see the value and benefits of shifting to this model as it relates to increased ‘ownership’ and ‘engagement’ of all employees.

The challenge with implementing a holacracy or a shared leadership model isn’t the structure itself its the human response to the drastic change away from ‘telling others what to do’ towards a ‘a team of leaders who all gain and share recognition’.

The personal skills required of leaders to make this model a success includes learning how to integrate a healthy ego with the willingness to be wrong and to have others push back. Like any major change the move to a shared leadership model requires a communication structure, an opportunity for people to ask questions and to clarify,as well as  training and coaching on the personal skills needed to be a leader who shares.

There are costs associated with changing the structure and companies like Gore Tex and Zappos see the cost as investment into the future and that the return on investment is measured in happier teams, higher innovation and improved customer satisfaction.




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