Shared Leadership Theory

The Shared Leadership Theory is a very broad observation of leadership that involves multiple specific theories. All of them, however, have one thing in common: more than one leader is in charge in any given situation. Shared leadership doesn’t necessarily mean that there are two leaders over a team, like a manager and an assisted manager. It can also mean that individual team members come to engage in activities that are mutually beneficial to each other, their team, and even their organization.

Shared Leadership Isn’t a New Phenomenon

The core of the Shared Leadership Theory is teamwork. Any time different assignments are given to different people in order to accomplish one overall goal, this theory of leadership is being implemented on some level. Traces of this type of leadership style can be found as far back as the Roman Empire. The reason for implementing this style of leadership is simple: it lightens the load of everyone on a team.

Shared leadership helps to eliminate the distractions that multitasking can bring. The problem with switching attention between multiple tasks is that there is a time deficit that happens every time a person swaps one task for another task. This time deficit can be as much as 15 minutes for every attention switch that takes place. If a worker changes tasks 4 times during a work day, then they’ve potentially lost 1 full hour of productive time.

Sharing responsibilities means allowing workers to stay focused on tasks that compliment their strengths. This allows multiple people to contribute something to the team while achieving a certain level of individual enjoyment because they are able to put their strengths on display. More production is also achieved because people are able to take on one task at a time instead of 5, 10, or even more sometimes.

What Are the Primary Dimensions of Shared Leadership Theory?

There are three dimensions of this theory of leadership.

1. Shared purpose.
This occurs when all team members have the same or similar understanding of what the overall purpose of any given task happens to be.

2. Social support.
By sharing the needs of people around an entire team, each person is actively engaged in their own tasks while being able to encourage more production from others by recognizing accomplishments.

3. Voice.
This is how much or how little actual input any given person or team has in any given situation.

By understanding how these dimensions interact with each other and combining this knowledge with an understanding of what strengths each person brings to a team, effective sharing can be achieved. This allows a team to stay focused on a collective goal, still be able to achieve individual goals, and build relationships by having support for one another.

Shared leadership sometimes means that power is decentralized from a manager, but that’s not always a bad thing. Teams that come together as a team work a lot better than a group of individuals pursuing individual desires. That’s the concept behind the Shared Leadership Theory.

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