The Power of Shared Leadership

Jul 23, 2021 | 0 comments

Leadership is like love or a spiritual awakening, to keep it you must give it away.

In her groundbreaking book The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist describes the Three Truths of Sufficiency. These truths are equally true of leadership.

  • Money is like water, it flows
  • What you appreciate… appreciates. When we direct our attention to creativity, courage, and integrity we become expressions of those qualities
  • Collaboration Creates Prosperity. In a world filled with collaborators, our resources are not only enough; they are infinite. 

Shared leadership is rooted in consensus, trust & transparency.

Strong leaders work through a consensus process rather than rely on positional power and authoritarian decision-making. Consensus exists when the group agrees on a single best alternative and each member can honestly make these three statements to every other member.

  • I believe you understand my point of view.
  • I believe I understand your point of view.
  • I believe the decision has been made in an open and fair manner, and I am willing to support the group’s decision whether or not it’s my preference.

Consensus building can be messy and requires vulnerability and a commitment to truth-telling, as well as truth “listening”. Leaders hold a safe space for this process to exist.

In practice, shared leadership is effective when authority, responsibility, and accountability are delegated and received in a visible & balanced way. 

Delegation is not abdication, that is “I only assign to others that which is less important. The really important responsibilities must be executed and directed by me alone.” In the “me only scenario” we fail to harness the strengths of our team members. Ultimately, we fail to contribute to the development of other leaders. 

There are levels of delegation. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.  When exercising delegated authority be sure both parties to the delegation are clear about the level of authority being delegated and accepted.

Level l – Data gathering only 

Level 2 – Gather data and come back to me/group with recommendations, only 

Level 3 – Gather data, recommend to me/group, negotiate for your proposed option, act on behalf of me/group 

Level 4 – Gather data, consider options, act on behalf of me/group. This is the “just do it” option. 

Here are some examples. A team is assigned the task of putting on an event for a business or organization. The color of the cocktail napkins is a level 4, “just do it”. The overall theme for the evening is probably a level 3. 

The selection of a controversial speaker? Perhaps level 2, make recommendations and the board or senior management will decide and act to secure the speaker. Perhaps it’s a level 3 delegation. Gather data, make a recommendation for approval, negotiate for your proposed speaker, act on behalf of me/group. Making the level of delegated authority very clear to everyone at the outset is vital to the collaborative effort. 

Ask Yourself:

Are you a leader who needs to control everything down to the color of the cocktail napkins? You may want to think about your own readiness for shared leadership. Looking inward will help you create self-awareness, allowing you to maximize your strengths and mitigate your shortcomings. This, in turn, inspires your team members to recognize that their own strengths and abilities.

Good leaders are visionaries, they inspire others, possess emotional intelligence, and create more productive and satisfying workplaces for all employees. Implementing a shared leadership model can be an important part of creating this environment of collaboration. 

“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

 Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable


Shared leadership can be your secret sauce. During these unprecedented & challenging times, we need to recognize that old, outdated systems are being swept away to make room for something more authentic, equitable, thriving, and sustainable. Now is the time for people to come together and to make a difference. 

My coaching & consulting are designed to help individuals and executives work in collaboration to support the work they are doing and to achieve their purpose with deep-seated passion.


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