Leadership Productivity

The Inevitability of Shared Leadership

In today’s new rules of work, getting meaningful work done is no longer place-centric or position-centric, but people-centric.

The use of social media, not just for play, but as a primary platform for work-related interaction, has accelerated the shift from top-down hierarchies to flatter networks. Every organization has informal networks — back channels  — that allow people to get what they need, when they need it. Mobile devices and social media have turned these obscure jungle trails into relational super highways.

This shift affects how you, as a leader, must perceive your role as an influencer.

Old and New Lship Paradigm

Leadership is influence. Most of us were trained in a more traditional leadership model emphasizing the leader’s role as direction setter, change agent, spokesperson, problem-solver, strategy-formulator, vision caster, and aligner. Taken at face value, the net result of these roles and responsibilities will produce a leadership bench full of one-way communicators who are always selling and not necessarily listening.

In the new leadership paradigm, each of us operates as a node in a network. We consume information, advice, counsel, and make decisions based on multiple interactions with other people, not just our boss. Who’s the leader? The one who can offer relevant help, initiate needed change, and model the way ahead. Shared leadership becomes organic in this environment; it is inevitable.

Think about this from your own point of view. Where do you go for advice? I find myself searching Google, Twitter, or asking friends far more than I text or ring my boss.

One implication for me as a team leader is that I must be clearer than ever with my team about who our primary audience is and what our desired outcomes are. When our mission is clear, informal networks strengthen our ability to get the work done rather than threaten my authority as a team leader. It’s time to embrace the inevitability of shared leadership.

How are you experiencing the inevitability of shared leadership?


By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at

3 replies on “The Inevitability of Shared Leadership”

You’re right, Mark. It is mind blowing. That’s why I’m publishing a book on this next month :-). I hope to help leaders save a few years on a very steep learning curve. Thanks.

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