Shared Leadership: Examples, Benefits, Challenges, And Tips

Many organizations still prefer the traditional leadership module in comparison to shared leadership.

This may lead to a decrease in productivity and performance.Research advocates that shared leadership can be effective in certain scenarios, but only if it has been properly planned and implemented.

To understand more about how shared leadership work and to get an overview, here is what can help.

Table of Contents

What is Shared Leadership?

Shared leadership is when employees within an organization take ownership and responsibility for their part. In hindsight, shared leadership enables each employee to shoulder their work without the oversight of a command-and-control manager.

Many companies organize themselves in a manner where the smartest people are given the authority to manage the work of others. A digital revolution showcases a different management model, where the assumption is that the smartest individuals have access to the smartest technology in an organization.

A crucial component of shared leadership is its gradient. This means that shared leadership can take different iterations and forms.

Characteristics of Shared Leadership

Shared leadership as a style of management is useful, depending on your team and organization. Understanding shared leadership will help you determine whether it is suited for your team or not. Some of the characteristics of shared leadership are as follows:

Self- awareness

The first feature of shared leadership is self-awareness. This means that the team members using shared leadership fully understand their efforts and work together to lead. Without staff awareness, shared leadership will not be effective, as the team members are unaware that an organization expects them to assist with leadership.

Equal responsibility

Equal responsibility means that every team member accepts responsibility equally, even if it is not directly part of their job. Here, the sole manager takes responsibility for all projects and tasks completed in their department or team, as it poses a challenge to monitor them all.


Effective communication is a vital characteristic of any workplace; it is equally important when it comes to shared leadership. Every person taking on the leader’s mantle should communicate with other leaders and staff from other departments or teams. Without communication, shared leadership will not be effective.

Shared purpose

Shared leadership is an effective management style that allows the teams to perform to their full potential and increase collaboration, productivity, and efficiency. Understanding shared leadership will give you an idea of whether it will be effective at your workplace.

Embracing shared leadership

Natural leaders do not easily give in to shared leadership. Below are some of how an organization can adopt a shared leadership model.

  • Empowering qualified individuals, enhancing their capabilities, and defining the logistics and capabilities of the entire decision-making process
  • A culture is to be developed where people are comfortable taking on assignments.
  • Allows people to independently monitor and manage the tasks or responsibilities with the available resources at their disposal while not giving second thoughts to their decisions.
  • Review the progress of the team and adopt corrective measures when needed.
  • Instead of directing projects, take more time for yourself by allowing people to take on responsibilities that allow them to get close to a customer.

Why Is Shared Leadership Important For Managers?

Shared leadership is a theory and a practice where everyone in the team has an opportunity to lead, and the leaders should not be dictating everything. Rather, they should be creating an environment where the employees can share their feedback and ideas.

A critical component of implementing shared leadership is creating an environment where individuals feel they can voice their opinions freely without any restrictions from their employers.

For this logic to hold validity, leaders should lead by example and have an open attitude toward others’ thoughts and suggestions.

Strengthens relationships

Developing strong relationships is the first step toward implementing shared leadership. It means you are intellectually and emotionally available to them, listening carefully to them, and treating them equally.

Sometimes, it can be challenging if individuals do not receive credit for their efforts. You have to ensure that the efforts of individuals are not nullified when it comes to team success.

Boasts communication

The second step in implementing shared leadership is improving communication among team members. It means everyone has the same information, providing opportunities for collaboration.

Often, we rely on formal communication channels at the expense of informal communication. It results in miscommunication or misunderstanding that can impact the team’s productivity. The key to successful shared leadership is for everyone to be aligned toward a common goal.

Collective decision-making is facilitated.

Then comes the third step of collective decision-making. It means that members can share their views and propose solutions without any hiccups. We often make decisions for ourselves rather than collaborating with others to protect our interests.

Eventually, this would slow down the team’s progress and point to missed opportunities. Instead, you should try to develop a culture where everyone is comfortable sharing their views or opinions in an open environment and is not isolated.

The missions are set clearly.

The final step to implementing shared leadership is illustrating the team’s missions. This includes defining the objectives and mission of the team.

Without a clear purpose, it becomes difficult for the team members to understand why they are working together.

If there are disagreements about the team’s vision, it can lead to division and undermine teamwork.

Getting coaching to be a part of the change

To successfully implement shared leadership, you need to be prepared for a change in your behavior. Shared leadership is not about dictating to the team members what to do; it is about collective decision-making and consensus.

Such a form of leadership can be challenging to adopt if you are used to making all the decisions without input from others. There are different types of coaching that are available for managers.

Shared Leadership: How to Get Things Right

For most organizations, it would take some thought, leadership development programs, and focus to reap the benefits of shared leadership.

The leadership group members need to understand the group’s mission, how their colleagues work, and how to make collective decisions.

Sort the relationships in your leadership team the right way.

Formulating a shared leadership team means that you put together a team who runs their own teams or are expert in their specific areas.

They are good at what they do, though they are not good at doing it with colleagues.
An organization must support them, so they work as a team.

This means building trust and working together as a team. The leadership team would also know how to hold each other accountable.

To develop shared leadership, the team can be coached.

It is a good idea if you are setting up shared leadership teams for the first time, as you can coach them to work together effectively.

Many organizations already have coaches on staff who can help leadership teams work better.
The members of the leadership team do not get a lot of coaching from their leaders.

Measuring the performance of the team

The performance of individual managers is measured with measurable objectives and clear targets. It is something to do, similar to your shared leadership group.

How you intend to do it is dependent on a particular organization and its needs. Members feel more empowered through their collective responsibility, leading to better engagement and more teamwork.

Helps the team make collective decisions.

When you set up a shared leadership team, it is important to understand how they will spend time dealing with tricky decisions. Teams need to understand how to disagree equally.

The organization needs to understand the new structure and how to engage in it.

If the new shared leadership team finds it tricky to work among themselves, how would it be easy for the rest of the organization to work with them?
It is important that the new structure not be dropped straight away, as there needs to be a discussion about responsibility and reporting with everyone involved.

Emotional intelligence

It may be tough for the individuals to work together, more so if they are used to conventionally leading a team. The leadership programs should encourage self-reflection, and individuals need to understand themselves and their colleagues in a better way.

Make sure there is a group mission.

What are the things you are trying to achieve? Is it a new way of doing things, a shared leadership of a new project, or an attempt to tap into individual expertise?
Whatever your shared leadership team intends to do, everyone has to be on the same page and have an idea about the long-term and short-term goals.

Understand the different leadership styles and make shared leadership work.

There are bound to be different leadership styles when there are different leaders when are putting together a team; it is important to spend some time exploring how each works, their preferred leadership style, and how they will work with each other.

Benefits of Shared Leadership

Shared leadership is sharing influence and power with a single person in charge. Shared leadership is more of a collaborative effort. One person is in charge, but power and influence are shared within the entire group.

An increase in organizational performance

Surveys indicate that shared leadership is 34% more effective than traditional leadership. Shared leadership formulates a structure around innovation and change that is bound to impact a team’s performance compared to traditional leadership styles.
Shared leadership increases team effectiveness based on a notion of trust among the participants in the co-leading of themselves and others.

Enhanced employee motivation and job satisfaction

Shared leadership leads to consensus, team cohesion, and overall satisfaction based on collaborative efforts.
Shared leadership establishes a link between an individual employee and the collective identity of the organization and the team. Research indicates that strong motivation is likely to follow when a sufficient linkage is established

Improves the transfer of knowledge and increases collaboration and innovative thinking.

Shared leadership encourages trust and knowledge sharing between employees. This form of leadership helps build knowledge in a virtual work environment with digital and decentralized teams. Sharing knowledge increases collaboration in an office environment and fosters communication and commitment on the part of employees.

Natural leaders emerge, and they need not be hired.

The moment an organization adopts a shared leadership approach, within teams’ natural leaders emerge. Logically, it showcases that capable leader are formed since they are not selected but emerge.
Even the leadership between the employee and the employer is empowered. The leaders are not hired but emerge dynamically as it improves interplay, cohesion, and performance. This may also pose a risk if a natural leader does not emerge.

How To Develop Shared Leadership?

There are three basic principles for creating shared leadership.


Transparency is the key to employee satisfaction and trust. Everyone is on the same bandwidth when all the employees in an organization are aware of the company, perspectives, and goals. Transparency is a key factor in employee happiness.

Creation of a safe environment

A safe environment means employees are comfortable sharing their experiences in a culture of inclusion. Great ideas emerge from the people who indulge in the day-to-day work as they are experienced in doing their job.

They are the first to notice if something is not working properly in an organization. When employees feel that their ideas are heard and respected, the team benefits from their observations.

Supports employee autonomy.

Supporting autonomy means that the employees must have freedom in some of the decisions regarding their work. An organization can benefit if they provide employees with autonomy when it comes to their jobs.

The new way of managing people at work will give them more responsibility. Ensure the employees are open to hearing their input on the subject. It is not about giving an individual the same or equal responsibility.

It is all about managers having an open-door policy, as those who take risks and inform the managers about an issue are not penalized.

Does shared leadership work?

Teams with shared leadership have more consensus, trust, and cohesion in comparison to teams that do not have such a form of leadership.

Shared leadership has a far-reaching impact on an organization and the company. Since it improves employee engagement and motivation, a company can adapt quickly and develop innovative ideas.

Effective Ways To Create The Conditions For Shared Leadership

Positive traits can be developed from this leadership style if you intend to manage your time in this manner. There are several ways where you can introduce it to your organizational set- up

Systems are to be developed with guidelines in place

The main reason shared leadership fails is that leaders do not give team members directly. Additionally, they need to set up a few rules the others need to follow.

This sets up expectations and prevents misdirection and miscommunication, and the team members need to be aware of how to collaborate successfully.

Formulate your plans and meet with your team to discuss how they will work. A hard copy of these guidelines will be provided so the employees can review them on time.

You may ask for feedback on improving shared leadership and incorporating the suggestions

The resources are to be provided to make this leadership style work.

When a company implements shared leadership, executives need to ensure that the team is provided with sufficient knowledge, resources, and expertise to make things work.

For the team to reach its full potential, there has to be some degree of individual support. With shared leadership, the company’s top leader mustn’t fall off the radar.

This may include undertaking one-on-one meetings with the team members.

Developing a team culture

Until and unless there is a pre-established work environment, shared leadership will not work. It is up to the leaders to create an environment where the employees feel that their voices are respected.

Leadership development is all about handling challenging situations with grace, emotional intelligence, and humility.

People cannot demand trust, as it occurs over time by creating respect, appreciation, kindness, and empathy. Trust increases when people see leaders acting with integrity.

Build trust in your organization.

The employees can be guided on how to accomplish their duties properly. It is better to abandon micromanaging, as it would allow the employees to do the jobs for which you have hired them.

Apart from that, you need to empathize with your employees personally and professionally.
Shared leadership is not going to work if each person given power is not a leader in their way.

The reason is that leaders do not gain admiration, respect, and followers just because they are in a position of authority.

For shared leadership to work, the chosen leader has to influence everyone in the group through their actions.

If there is no hunger in that person, this leadership will take on a romantic theme. But if you have a team with the right individuals, it is a possibility.

Tips For Implementing Shared Leadership

If you implement shared leadership at your workplace, doing it properly can enhance team performance and trim down the implementation time. When implementing shared leadership for your team, there are a few tips that you can follow.

During implementation, provide coaching

Some professionals specialize in team learning and understanding the traits of shared leadership. Availing of the services of a professional can help your team adapt to shared leadership through guidance.

A professional can coach the team through the process, generate feedback, and suggest measures for improvement.

Tracking and measuring leadership performance

Using data and KPIs, the team’s leadership qualities and overall performance can be tracked. Doing this before and after implementing the leadership style allows you to figure out how the style works for your team.

Communication of changes to the organization

If you implement shared leadership, several appointed leaders will provide guidance, not a single one.

You better communicate those changes to the staff in your organization. You can make it clear when they contact you with questions.

Emotional intelligence

It would be tough in the end for the individuals to work in this manner, more so if each of them is used to conventionally performing their task.

Programs are to be developed to encourage self-reflection and help individuals improve their understanding of themselves or their colleagues.

Make sure that there is a clear group mission.

What are the things that you are trying to achieve? Do you think shared leadership is for a particular project, or is it something to necessitate change and tap the expertise or focus on the traits of individual expertise?

Whatever the shared leadership tries to achieve, everyone has to be on the same board and have an idea about an organization’s long-term and short-term goals.

Shared leadership—the key to effectiveness

The team concept is one of the aspects of a shared leadership model. This form of leadership helps businesses progress and benefits the team with respect to fewer conflicts.

A benefit of shared leadership is that the best leaders, in some cases, require help. It seems rare that every manager may have the skills or knowledge to make all relevant decisions.

Shared Leadership Examples: A Leadership Type For The Future

Businesses have moved from traditional decision-making models to open, committed ones. You cannot expect an organization to grow until the employees feel comfortable in their job roles.

The logic of shared leadership thrives on the fact that many employees draw inspiration from intrinsic factors.

A good example is when decision-making is not centered in a few hands but occurs at different levels of the hierarchy.

Shared leadership is about ensuring everyone has the same rights and creating a culture where employees are not hesitant to share their opinions or ideas. Even they are willing to embrace risks for higher returns
Communication is important in shared leadership. It also ensures that there are no barriers to communication among the team members. Recurring and open communication means that critical issues are not ignored and are handled in good spirits.


What are some of the challenges of shared leadership?

For shared leadership to be effective and to function properly, it requires the expertise of the right type of leader. If an organization does not implement shared leadership effectively, it will take time and resources to implement this leadership style.

When should shared leadership be used?

Shared leadership is effective when it comes to knowledge-based employees. The reason is that people with superior levels of skill and competency in how they apply their specialties In the process, more opportunities emerge for them to participate in the leadership functions of their groups.

Do you think shared leadership is the key to success?

Shared leadership leads to better organizational performance. This model positively influences how a company operates and encourages values and personal initiative.

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