SHARED LEADERSHIP: Overview, Model, Examples, Theory

shared leadership

Shared leadership is a commitment to becoming a real group of leaders with joint accountability, vision, goals, trust, blame, and rewards. It is also the modern approach to getting work done and this is being applied by more companies. It could help small businesses grow without investing in new employees or high-salaried managers. In this article, we’ll discuss the shared leadership model, examples, and theory. Also, emphasizes the benefits of sharing leadership.

Business management is rapidly changing from old, authoritarian models to more open methods, as many companies have been inspired by social media and newer web technologies and thus have begun facilitating the sharing of information.

Shared Leadership Model

The shared leadership model presents leadership as an effective group process. It is multi-directional and collaborative rather than dependent on control from the top. All contributors can direct steady organizational change, from bringing forward new ideas to executing these ideas. Moreover, the shared leadership model can be embraced by individuals at all levels of an organization.

Most companies rely on the assumption that the smartest company is the one with the smartest individuals with the authority to manage the work of others. The digital age is generating an absolutely different management model. Where the assumption now is that the smartest companies have quick access to the collective knowledge of the company.

What Is Shared Leadership?

Shared leadership is more of a cooperative effort. Although one person is still in charge, power and influence spread out within the group. This means individuals have more autonomy over decisions relating to their position or more of an open-door policy in which everyone’s ideas are set on fair considerations. Shared leadership has a positive influence on the way a company operates. This model encourages and values personal initiative. When employees feel commissions to do what they know they need to do instead of waiting for guidance on what to do, both productivity and job satisfaction increase.

When individuals feel that they have an impact on the organization and that they have some power and responsibility. They have a greater desire for success. Goals become more personal to them, and people naturally work harder at anything they are personally a major part of.

What Are the Components of Shared Leadership?

  • Shared purpose: Comprehend and value group objectives.
  • Social help: Offer each other emotional support.
  • Voice: Appreciate the contributions of each team member.

Examples of Shared Leadership

Shared leadership may be a relatively new concept in the business world, but it can be seen in the government structure of democracies. Instead of one person, such as a king or an authoritarian leader, having all of the decision-making power. Where power splits among different branches of government, with the president or prime minister taking the ultimate leadership role. However “The best examples of shared leadership are when decision making gets spread across multiple individuals,”.

Some other individual businesses applied shared leadership by having every corporate body be a part of the decision making helping both individual and business growth.

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Why Is Shared Leadership Important?

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, shared leadership improves overall organizational performance.

Because it stimulates and celebrates individual initiative, the shared leadership model has a positive impact on the way business functions. Productivity and job satisfaction rise when people feel empowered to accomplish what they know needs to be done instead of waiting to be told what to do. And when employees are satisfied, the organization operates with more efficiency.

Individuals have a greater drive for achievement when they believe they influence the organization and possess some authority and responsibility. When individuals are genuinely focusing on their goals, they naturally exert greater effort.

Greg A. Chung-Yan, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada, stated, “The best examples of shared leadership occur when decision-making is delegated to numerous individuals.”

What Are the Advantages of Shared Leadership?

  • Enhanced organizational effectiveness.
  • Enhanced teamwork, knowledge sharing, and creative thinking.
  • Increased employee satisfaction and motivation.
  • Natural leaders are not hired; they arise.

How to Develop Shared Leadership

There are three fundamental concepts of shared leadership.

#1. Encourage Transparency

Transparency is essential to employee satisfaction and confidence. Everyone is on the same page when all employees are aware of a company’s status, goals, and perspective. According to a poll conducted by TinyPulse and reported in Forbes, there was a 93 percent association between employee happiness and transparency.

#2. Create a Safe Environment

In an inclusive culture, employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas in a safe atmosphere. Because they have the greatest experience performing their duties, those who perform the day-to-day tasks frequently generate the best ideas. Additionally, they are frequently the first to detect when something is not functioning properly. When employees believe their ideas are acknowledged and appreciated, the team benefits.

#3. Support Employee Autonomy

To support autonomy, employees must have the freedom to make certain work-related decisions. Not all organizations will adopt W. L. Gore’s model, allows people to choose which occupations to accept. However, the majority of organizations can benefit from more autonomy in specific areas.

Collins stated that creating a meeting style in which employees discuss how ideas differ and where there is an agreement, as opposed to disputing over whose concept is superior, could facilitate shared leadership in small organizations.

According to Chung-Yan, this new method of management may include little more than delegating responsibilities and ensuring that supervisors are receptive to employee opinions.

“It is not the same as giving equal or the same responsibilities to multiple people,” Chung-Yan explained.

What Are the 4 P’s of Leadership?

Based on our findings, we’ve identified the “four Ps”—perception, process, people, and projection—as the most important factors in a leader’s ability to achieve their goals.

Shared Leadership Theory

Shared leadership is one of the fastest-growing organizational groups. It is the idea of a team where oftentimes no single person is in charge. This idea of a team is different from other theories of leadership because the leader is so much like a peer. Which opens the door to peer leadership. However, leadership is “not on the basis of the position of authority but rather by an individual’s capacity to influence peers by the needs of the team in any given moment”. It is also most likely that in shared leadership, members work collaboratively in groups and make decisions by consensus. 

Each individual brings distinctive knowledge, perspectives, and capabilities to the team. There are strengths with the shared leadership theory. For example, this type of leadership sometimes connects with the quality of people’s interactions rather than their position. In other words, communication and conversation are the main highlights. Leadership is more by how the group works with each other; all members are working to make the process more fulfilling. Moreover, the members are mutually supportive, all are active participants in the process of leadership. Finally, because the values, processes, and ethics are self-governing, the members are associated with the quality of the interactions rather than their title(s). 


There are still some areas of this type of leadership clearly involve certain boundary conditions, mediators, and moderators that have been recommended for future research highlighting four weaknesses with shared leadership. First, so much emphasis placed on the process can lead to a lack of attention to the product or outcome, oftentimes serving as an excuse for laziness. The group must not lose sight of the subject. Second, when the leadership is shared among members, one individual may become demotivated if he or she is not praised, and resentment may grow. This could eventually hurt the group as a whole. Finally, all models of leadership vary by culture. However, what we view as acceptable in one society or group may not be so acceptable in another.

Members of the organization and the company as a whole gain greatly from shared leadership. It promotes employee engagement and job happiness, as well as the company’s ability to adapt to change and come up with unique new ideas more quickly.

After researching a handful of leadership models and theories, I came to the conclusion that the shared leadership theory is the theory that best fits my personality.


Why is leadership a shared responsibility?

Being a leader does not imply having authority over others. And, by sharing leadership tasks among your employees or team, you demonstrate to them that you value their skills. You respect their judgment and value the information and decision-making skills they bring to the table.

What are the different types of leadership?

  • Authoritarian Leadership.
  • Participative Leadership.
  • Delegative Leadership.
  • Transactional Leadership.
  • Transformational Leadership.

Is shared leadership effective?

Recent research on change management teams, virtual teams, and new startup teams has shown that teams in which leadership is shared, rather than vested in a single individual, can be very effective, demonstrating quantitatively that shared leadership can and does lead to improved organizational performance.

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