Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shared Leadership . . . What Is It Exactly? (TCC Group in NP Quarterly)

Theories about organizational transformation have been pointing in the direction of shared leadership for more than three decades. Experiments with "self-managing" work teams proliferated in the 1980s. In 1990, Peter M. Senge published The Fifth Discipline and popularized the concept of "learning organizations". In 1994, Jack Stack made waves with his book The Great Game of Business, where he championed the value of practicing "open-book management" and engaging workers at all levels. In 1999, Margaret J. Wheatley wrote in Leadership and the New Science, "Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (now the methods most used in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. And, in 2003, Joseph A. Raelin coined the term "leaderful" in his book Creating Leaderful Organizations, which describes an organization that intentionally creates the structure and culture needed to share leadership among staff, board, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

Despite this dramatic shift in leadership theory, our combined research and experience with nonprofit organizations reveal that most organizations continue to accept a hierarchical structure, with the executive director shouldering an enormous burden of responsibility for organizational success. However, we found that this concentration of power was not because executive directors were power hungry. Nor was it even deliberate. It was due to a lack of familiarity with the alternatives. Read Full Article. 

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