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The Case For Shared Leadership

Apr 28, 2020 | 9m

Gain Actionable Insights Into:

  • The similarities between music groups and organisational structure
  • Encouraging quiet folks to speak up and share leadership
  • Leading by example to make the workplace more inclusive


Why People?

Good business outcomes and good people management are inseparable. Who’s responsible for building relationships with the clients to generate business outcomes? Who’s responsible for networking and opening up new opportunities in the market? Who produces the work that directly contributes to the business outcomes?

People are the real assets, not just in advertising, but also through all service- and advisory-oriented businesses. You can’t automate the act of pitching to clients or send your AI program to a networking event. You need talented people doing that for your organisation. Getting the best out of your staff will require a shared approach to leadership. Forget what you know about hierarchical yes-sir no-sir leadership. Strap on your seat belts tightly, because we’re going head-first into the concept of shared leadership, why one needs it and what it looks like in real life.

Music and Your Organisation

What does music have to do with leadership? As a leader and an amateur musician, I’ve noticed several parallels in being part of an organisation and playing in a band. Different organisation types have different types of leadership. Just like in music. A hundred-piece orchestra, for example, is led by just one conductor.

The conductor is in complete control and everyone takes direction from the movements of their baton. That’s an organisation that requires central leadership – that’s why the entire orchestra can play with extreme precision; where you have 17 violins producing one harmonious sound. Great conductors are paid well because of their brilliant attention to detail – they can process the music of an entire orchestra and pick out even a single misplayed note.

Today’s organisations, however, are younger and more nimble – they require a different kind of tradition, one with shared leadership. Like in a jazz band. While they play within a structure, they innovate individually within that structure. At a given point in time, the sax player may have the role of the lead performer, before he or she passes the lead to the drummer or keyboardist and so on. In shared leadership, it’s not necessary to retain control all the time - everyone has their time to shine in this system, and their specialties collectively contribute to the overall product or performance.

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