The team concept is one that for many organizations is the most important aspect of their business model. It is said that this type of structure is an important way for companies to remain competitive because of their ability to respond quickly and adapt to constant, rapid changes. (Northouse, 2016) Shared leadership also helps organizations progress, makes them more efficient, and benefits their team in regards to less conflict, and more cohesion and trust. It is also thought that this shared team concept when applied to organizational leadership in companies becomes the key to their effectiveness.
At Penn State, where I work, my department has formal leaders, but they also value the opinions and ideas of the team as a whole. Annually, we organize two strategic planning meetings where all 200 employees gather to give their feedback on things that may help the department function better. Individually, I also value the shared leadership theory with my team of 15 employees, as they stand on the front lines of the organization, and so I believe that they have valuable ideas for progress, innovation, efficiency and effectiveness. My team and I meet weekly to discuss the progress of our building, and they know that their suggestions are always considered and opinions heard. I empower them to make decisions daily, knowing that this helps them to buy into what we are doing as an organization. According to Northouse (2016), “shared team leadership occurs when members of the team take on leadership behaviors to influence the team and to maximize team effectiveness. (pg. 365)
Another reason for the value of shared leadership is that even the best of leaders need help making decisions. It seems rare that organizations’ leaders have all the skills and knowledge to make every decision. It is for this reason that the concept of shared leadership is the key to an effective organization. According to Carson et. al. (2007), “the complexity and ambiguity that teams often experience make it unlikely that a single external leader can successfully perform all necessary leadership functions.” (pg. 1217)
Many employees seek autonomy in their work, especially those with expert skill and knowledge. For these employees, they seek to supply this knowledge and skill for the greater good of the team. These team members “desire a greater opportunity to shape and participate in the leadership functions of their teams” (Carson et. al 2007). Not only is it good for the autonomy of the team members, but it is also beneficial to the team chemistry. It is shown that “teams with shared leadership have less conflict, more consensus, more trust, and more cohesion than teams that do not have shared leadership” (Northouse, 2016, pg. 365).
Organizations can benefit from the concept of shared leadership because of the numerous reasons that were previously listed. There are also other benefits as stated by Carson et. al (2007), who wrote that “when team members voluntarily and spontaneously offer their influence to others in support of shared goals, shared leadership can provide organizations with competitive advantage through increases in commitment, in the personal and organizational resources brought to bear on complex tasks, in openness to reciprocal influence from others, and in the sharing of information” (pg. 1217). These reasons provide the details of why the team concept of shared leadership in my opinion is the key to the effectiveness of any quality organization.
Carson, J. B., Tesluk, P.E., Marrone, J.A. (2007). Shared Leadership In Teams: An Investigation Of Antecedent Conditions And Performance. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 50, No. 5, 1217–1234. Retrieved from http://www.ilo.bwl.uni-muenchen.de/download/unterlagen-ws12_13/leadership_and_learning/literature_hoegl1/carson_et_al_2007.pdf
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.