Is it “Shared Leadership” or shared failure?

I am all about encouraging people, but I think the modern study of leadership is on a razor blades edge, because in some cases it is almost at the point where it says “If you give it your all, that is good enough” and sadly that is just not always true. I wish it was, but sometimes one’s best will not be “good enough” and we as a society have become so sensitive to this mentality that we can NOT fail at anything… Since when is failing a totally bad thing? Since when does everyone have to be the best at everything?

This blog is a response to an article that we discussed in one of my classes last week. The article is entitled: “Shared Leadership in Teams: An Investigation of Antecedent Conditions and Performance” and it argues that “Shared Leadership” is the best thing since sliced bread. I do believe that it is a very powerful tool to use when developing a leadership strategy, but not always the best. It seems to me that studying leadership theories can be very useful in knowing how to effectively handle a situation, but it can also be bulky, and at times harmful. For example, leadership is a practical skill. It is something that is fluid, adaptive, and specialized, but when there is so much study on theory this adaptability, this fluidity can quickly disappears. When a leader loses his or her ability to adapt, they lose their leadership style and effectiveness.

However, the one part of the paper that I mostly agree with is the section that says:

“…our findings suggest that external leaders should engage in supportive coaching of teams to facilitate the development of shared leadership. This coaching can be in the form of encouraging, reinforcing, and rewarding instances in which team members demonstrate leadership, assisting teams when internal conflicts arise, providing general encouragement to a team as a whole, and being available for suggestions or input into the team’s task strategies as needed.”

Through my personal experiences, I have found that having an external facilitator can be a very effective way to gather a group consensus, but ONLY if the facilitator knows what he/she is doing. This method can help eliminate group tensions in conversation by having a “neutral” voice leading discussion and voting. My problem lies here… If a facilitator does not know how to properly conduct this type of setting it can lead to a extremely devastating conclusion!

Any group or team needs to be very careful when deciding how to use a “team” or “shared leadership” approaches, because it can be a great tool, but it can also make the group quickly digress.

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