Monday, 17 february 2020 | Redacción CEU
Generally, when we think about leaders, we imagine them carrying out their functions alone. But, is this an essential requirement? Can two leaders be in the same group? Experience always brings us down to earth. What we sometimes regard as unequivocal in theory usually clashes with our reality. Nowadays, there are many companies which are run by two or more family members or by partners who take leadership in a shared way. In turn, the concept of company has evolved a lot in the last years, by taking different directions and being influenced by new and more flexible precepts. This is due in large part to the fact that firms now grow horizontally, seek new management models and make a leap abroad. Consequently, power no longer rests with just one person. Companies open new spaces of participation where the voices of other professionals have a greater weight, create new intermediate positions that serve as support for managers and focus on new capacities like creativity and decision making. Thus, now more than ever it is necessary to find successful formulas in organizations to exercise a shared leadership.
Being a leader is more than showing a series of skills when it comes to encouraging a group of professionals to work in the same direction and towards the same goal. The leader is the figure that serves as an example, lays the foundations for trust and solidarity within the team, and is able to bring out the best in everyone. People usually imagine them in high positions, but this does not necessarily mean that they have to work on jobs of maximum responsibility within the company structure. Leaders, more than anything else, are people who are capable of influencing the members of their teams, by also doing it in a positive way.
If fulfilling these premises might seem a complex mission, doing so in such a way that you share this goal with two or more people seems a titanic achievement. However, this is not impossible to accomplish.
As its name implies, co-leadership implies a leadership that is exercised jointly with another person. This should be highlighted because, although it may sound redundant, this criterion is not always taken into account. Leaders who make decisions on their own and who only share some responsibilities with their peers cannot be called co-leaders. Indeed, co-leaders can organize their tasks by dividing them in such a way that each of them pays attention to different issues, but each co-leader needs to have the real capacity to make decisions. This brings us to the next key aspect: ego management.
We must not lose sight of what can be achieved thanks to co-leadership. While companies will always be more agile when decisions are made individually and rigidly, firms that do so in a consensual way will benefit from a much richer vision of work. Companies can have a wider vision when adopting several approaches than firms that only use a single point of view. When only one person is always in charge of deciding, a certain aura of infallibility might grow in them, and an excess of ego may lead them to making wrong decisions. This occurs both when a person leads alone and refuses to listen to the voice of their employees and collaborators and when co-leaders want to impose themselves on their peers. Therefore, when it comes to being in charge, it is necessary to find a balance: knowing how to share responsibilities and recognitions, leaving room for others to shine, being open to new ideas and finding ways to achieve consensus.
Another fundamental aspect in co-leadership is trust. Undertaking a shared leadership project with a person you do not trust is a guarantee for failure. The key to success in co-leadership is synergy, so the professionals who perform this type of leadership must be compatible (or should work to achieve it). It is necessary to bear in mind that, even when they are compatible, there will be some moments of disagreement. That is why it is essential that they work in tune and that they learn to work out their differences so that these do not translate into a tense atmosphere that forces employees to make drastic decisions such as choosing between following one or other professional. On the other hand, being compatible does not mean that they should have a similar personality, but rather that they should exercise leadership in such a way that they complement and complete each other. How to get this? They must work from a similar business vision and solid and common values.
Finally, in order to lead jointly, it is necessary to pay special attention to the organization, so that one co-leader does not discredit the other and throw away all the work achieved. The ideal scenario is one in which leaders identify their strengths and weaknesses, and take advantage of them. In this way there is a balance, and where one falters the other can take the lead, and vice versa. In this regard, another important aspect is that co-leaders should clearly establish both what the final goal is and what the necessary objectives to achieve it are. The idea is that, even if they bet on different paths in order to achieve it, they can nevertheless advance in the same direction and look for the same results.
The CEU IAM Business School offers an Executive MBA aimed at professionals with four or more years of experience who want to boost their careers, take on more responsibilities and successfully face the new challenges that they find in their way. This is an MBA which is focused on the training of ethical leaders beyond borders. That is why this program takes place in different parts of the planet: Accra, Madrid and Boston. CEU IAM’s EMBA also focuses on issues that are decisive in today’s business world such as the capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, internationalization, social responsibility and the development of managerial skills. Are you interested in it? Ask for further information with no obligation on your part!