Collective Leadership: Definition, Examples, And Benefits

Collective leadership is a form of leadership where people with diverse skills and experience come together to work on goals that they develop jointly.

Compared to traditional leadership, where a single person makes decisions after consulting others, in collective leadership, the group empowers a person or people with relevant expertise and expertise to implement solutions.

If needed, the group indulges in conflict resolution or consensus building to reach decisions and resolve any disputes.

This type of leadership is a social process and does not rely on top executives’ authority.

What Is Collective Leadership?

A collective decision is made by a group of people who are working towards a common goal. Once collective leadership is in place, people are internally and externally motivated to work towards a shared vision within the group.

Collective leadership ensures that lasting success is impossible without diverse contributions and perspectives.

Collection decision-making is a process dependent on a system’s parts. The group works together, which is different from the traditional leadership model.

All members committed to the vision are committed to working towards it. When collective decision-making exists, people claim, “We have gone on to things ourselves.”

Benefits Of Collective Leadership

During COVID-19, there were a lot of changes in the work environment, as it was a transition phase from a physical work environment to a remote one.

Work processes were adjusted to the new norm, and it had an impact on our day-to-day lives, particularly our leadership styles.

Under these new circumstances, many of us had to adapt and become leaders on our own end. Some organizations embraced this trend and cashed in on this new form of leadership known as collective leadership.

It is a concept where decisions are made collectively, not via a hierarchy system. There are benefits to collective leadership, including the following:

It provides employee autonomy

By considering employees’ feedback, collective leadership assures the leaders that they trust employees to do the job for which they are hired.

Providing autonomy ensures creativity and allows employees to think outside of the box when designing services or products.

Allows employees to be part of the decision-making process

Collective leadership will empower the employees to be part of the big picture. Sharing decision-making responsibilities with those directly involved in the process, where everyone would come together to ensure that the desired goal is met.

It increases performance and productivity

With experiences leading to better outcomes in terms of decisions, outcomes would lead to an increase in productivity and output.

The transparency that emerges due to collective leadership will lead to high morale and employee engagement within the organization.

Both of these factors have a direct correlation with employee performance and productivity.

It leads to a faster buy-in to change and innovation

The moment decisions are made collectively. Employees are likely to adapt to new changes as they will understand the reasons for change.

When there is collective trust and support, new innovations are bound to be encouraged.

Realizing potential

Often, people do not realize their true potential at work. Adopting a collective leadership framework at work helps people develop and work together, not only in their current responsibilities or jobs but also as professionals.


Sustainability is often exclusive without collective leadership. If everything depends on a single person, what happens if he leaves everything depends on a single person, what happens if he leaves? The work would come to a standstill, and in the absence of the skills or knowledge of that person, things would be left stranded.

Removing the barrier to internal motivation that is needed for growth and development

Imposing something into the life of someone is bound to generate resistance at their end. All the effort that goes into telling people that they are not doing a good job will often be treated as defending themselves, which may look like resistance to people helping them.

Shared responsibility

In traditional leadership, the few people at the top feel burdened and lonely. The supervisors or managers feel that everyone is turning to them for answers, and the pressure is mounting on them.

When shared responsibility, managers feel they are in the company of resourceful people.
Organizations should embrace and implement new leadership styles where employees are encouraged to be part of the decision-making process. Irrespective of the industry, there is a need for organizations to evolve and comply with the ever-changing demands of their customers.

In a world of high volatility and uncertainty, collective leadership is to be considered an asset. Developing an organizational culture that is developed through shared input and responsibility will lead to a team dynamic that will be sustainable in the years to come.

Collective Leadership Vs. Having No Hierarchy

Collective leadership is not about having any hierarchy, which is a distraction. It is all about developing leaders at different levels in an organization. The best definition of collective leadership is having leaders at all organizational levels.

There is no harm if there is a hierarchy, but the question is, does everyone have the time or space to lead? This is what collective leadership means, as it indicates a collective effort to keep the organization moving forward.

Collective leadership is all about doing things as equals. It does not mean that we are going to lead equally. This does not mean that everyone is going to lead when everyone has something to contribute. People will step up when they are the right person due to their background, skills, or understanding of the situation. They are going to take responsibility for leading everyone else, and the system will lead to beneficial outcomes.

Traps Of Collective Leadership

Collective leadership may sound nice, but even well-established leaders are not aware of how to implement it. Some of the common traps are as follows.

The ego trips

When developing collective leadership, the main challenge that you encounter is ego. Each one has an ego, and there is no harm in that.

The moment our ego is dominant, we are focused on what is good for us, not what is good for the collective.

It is about a state of evolution where people abandon “me thinking” in favor of “we thinking.” This is termed “evolutionary leadership,” and it has been dissolved with an aim to transform everyone and everything around them.

It is all about building other leaders and moving the organization toward better performance.

No time for learning

The other trap with collective leadership is not having a learning culture. If there is no learning culture, people focus on short-term goals and getting things done.

This means there is no space for anyone to learn, and they have to do so to become a better leader.

In the learning environment, there is a healthy balance between short-term production and enhancing the capabilities of the system. Collective leadership requires a collaborative, evolved cultural system to show results, like adult-motivated individuals.

What Are The Operating Principles Of Collective Leadership?

Collective leadership is a form of leadership where multiple individuals exercise their relationships within a group.

The entire group provides leadership for the entire organization. It is a fluid and flexible approach to leadership where resultant accountabilities respond to changing situations.
If you believe that your organization could benefit from greater collective leadership, how should you go about considering it?

The best way is to introduce a set of operating principles that is a conscious source indicating how an organization is willing to operate. Below are some of the principles associated with collective leadership.


It is difficult but not impossible to change people’s beliefs, so it makes sense to select individuals for leadership positions based on their beliefs, not their talent.


Collaboration is not in conflict with competition, more so when it is seen to be coming from outside the organization.

The quality is not about sharing; this is about constructively challenging and, in the organization’s best interests, having hard conversations with people. Rather than acting alone, collaborate with the employees.

With the strong strength, the weak

If the group wants to move faster, then the slowest-moving member’s performance must be improved or replaced.

In simple terms, the more simple and experienced people should accelerate the performance of the weaker people.

Learning from past mistakes

Intelligent and learned people do not learn from what they are told; it is all about their experience.

More so when they are taken out of their comfort zone and need to align emotionally and intelligently. This is known as “experienced learning.”

Aligned awards

Holding individuals responsible and rewarding them for their efforts is equally important. It is equally important to understand what to hold them accountable for and reward them accordingly.

If this is an achievement of a collaborative outcome, the reward must be aligned with the outcome. In the process, the contribution of every individual is valued.

Improving collective

Collective leadership will only work if the individuals are committed and put their weight behind the group.

If this is not the case, the ability or commitment of the leadership group has to change. The key is to improve the collective group’s leadership and the individual leaders’ performance.

Collective leadership is the best way to win.

More than ever, leadership is a scarce commodity, and organizations worry about succeeding in this complex world.

A limited pool of resources at our disposal is a recurring problem, and the root cause is profound. It has a lot to do with how companies approach leadership.

The world has evolved, and so have the leadership models. It is not a solo sport; if your organization wants to evolve in this digital era, then all the employees should lead as one.

The leadership shifts

Collective leadership is no longer a choice. Everyone has the ability or is responsible enough to lead. Solutions and opportunities can emerge from anywhere with anyone in an organization.

A shift from an individual to a collective approach is leadership. Rather than developing leaders, an organization has to focus on developing leadership capacity.

The idea of collective leadership challenges traditional leadership modules. True agility requires an organization to change leadership capabilities at all organizational levels.

A network or group of people should be the source of leadership, not an individual. Organizations need to get people to work together as one.

How Do You Make Collective Leadership Work?

If you are the leader of an organization, there are some steps you can take to build a culture of collective leadership effectively.

Develop a platform for people to lead.

An important thing to consider to make collective leadership work is developing an evolved cultural system.

This means that we create time for the people to develop their leadership. We will never have collective leadership if we do not give people space and time to develop as leaders.

The existing leaders are encouraged to share power.

The moment you introduce collective leadership, you need to be aware that an organization already has a power structure. A group of people holds power, and it is essential to teach those leaders how to share power effectively.

To deal with this, there are some growth requirements. You cannot tell people, “Now you need to share power.” This is an immature approach and does not hold any relevance. Rather, it is all about helping leaders overcome their fear of letting things go out of control.

An evolution process is needed for the leaders to develop and let go of the control and command habit.

At the right pace, power should be shared.

For leaders who are sharing power, it is important to give them tools to share power since this develops people’s leadership capacity.

This is called the paradox of power. Sharing power with people who are not willing to accept power is not a viable option.

The key is to make people use power in a responsible manner by ensuring that they have the capabilities to make good decisions.

When people have the context of understanding organizational elements, everyone moves in the same direction. Once the decisions are made, it becomes easy to share power.

Power sharing tools

The core idea of collective leadership is that it comes from pooling the collective intelligence of people in an organization.

A major challenge that leaders face is empowerment. Too much empowerment or too little can challenge the staff.

How Can You Create A Culture Of Collective Leadership?

The teams that engage in collective leadership tend to show more curiosity and respect for the individual strengths of each member and have the propensity to collaborate with other departments, teams, or companies.

Since accountability and responsibility are spread across team members, there is a collective sense of importance and urgency among the team members

Step 1

Figure out what the team has been commissioned to achieve, and there is a deep-seated emotional connection to the outcome among the team members.

If we look at teams within companies and industries within countries, the important thing is to achieve together. The team will come together and take collective responsibility for the outcome.

Step 2

Decide what collective leadership means for your team. It means different things to different teams. The leaders of today are looking for partnerships in management.

They are looking to be coached and managed. The need of the hour is to be mindful and inspire accountability and responsibility among the team members.

Step 3

Time is to be created to ensure relevant channels of communication at relevant interfaces. This can be interdepartmental, interpersonal, or external.

Step 4

working together to develop innovative solutions and prioritize actions to be taken based on the feedback received.

Collective leadership and management

Everything that we do, as well as the processes, systems, and structures, influences our culture, but the single most important factor influencing culture is leadership.
This is important to consider: why we do it, how we do it, and the numerous ways to improve ourselves.


In the current business context, the agenda has extended from developing leaders to developing a collective organizational leadership capacity.

No longer collective leadership is a choice as it is a practical solution and a necessity at the same time. Collective leadership requires all the members to be taking collective responsibility.


Which is the system that is based on collective leadership?

The direction of government is based on collective leadership. Here, the executive power is held by a group of people who are operational in an environment of collegiality.

Do you think there can be a couple of leaders in a group?

Co-leadership is a group of two or more people who are in charge of a group. They are known to share ownership of a team’s goals, and the responsibilities and roles are divided.

What is collective leadership?

Collective leadership is taking responsibility for the success of an organization as a whole. It is not only for their jobs or area.

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