We tend to think of leadership as being one person that leads the troops through battle, to use a military metaphor. We speak of a leader, the leader all in singular. We expect the leader to know what to do and how to get it done.
Within the last 100 years there have been three various types of leadership practices or styles, traits approach, behavioral approach and situational approach. Trait approach is focused on the physical traits of the leader – height, personality, intelligence, who the person is. Behavioral approach – focusing on what the leader does more than on who they are. And Situational Approach – more adaptable to the task or job that needs to be accomplished.
We now can look at the evolved style of leadership practice, Distributed Leadership. This style of leadership strips the theory of one leader making decisions in a vacuum and looks at the role of leadership as many, think shared leadership. …” leadership practice takes shape in the interactions of people and their situation, rather than from the actions of an individual leader.” (Spillane)
Distributed Leadership is a sharing of ideas, and handling of problems, threats and change. It is based on the theory that the expertise that people have in their area of responsibility can assist in moving the process forward utilizing that knowledge. It is not delegating but tapping into that expertise. Not everyone is a decision maker but their input and expertise contributes to the decision making process. Sharing in the same mission and utilizing this practice of leadership fosters trust, cooperation and loyalty.
I bring up Distribute Leadership now because of the changes our economy is whirling through and the possibility of one person having all the answers is unrealistic. CEO’s have numerous people that they conference with to provide them with the details that they need to make the ultimate decision. DL looks at those that are directly involved in an area where a decision has to be made and allows them a voice. Perhaps two heads (or more) are better than one.