I recently wrote this article on shared leadership models published in The Nonprofit Quarterly on May 30, 2017.
Nonprofits considering a shared leadership model would be well advised to review these materials while recognizing that people who talk about shared leadership are not always discussing the same things. In some cases, they use it to designate a two- or three person coequal group of executives; at the other end of the spectrum, it refers to a culture where taking leadership is encouraged, nurtured, and mentored at all levels.
The article briefly describes several models of shared leadership:
- CEO and COO
- CEO and Board
- Program Autonomy (distributed leadership among employees – e.g., holacracy)
- Collaborative Leadership Across Organizations
There are indeed risks to instituting or becoming involved in shared leadership models, but in the future, not being able to manage one’s self or one’s organization in a shared leadership environment may leave one ill prepared to attract young leaders or exciting partners. Strict hierarchy and siloed leadership have their own constellation of legal (never mind moral) problems—we’re just more used to them. Shared leadership, on the other hand, is a work in progress.
See also Nonprofit Radio: Shared Leadership Options to review some pros, cons, and implementation issues associated with shared leadership.