Sharing all that? The Future of Leadership


Sharing economy is already with us.  New businesses and services sprout around sharing computing power, cars, houses and so on. This is part of the inevitable turn of our economies to become more resource efficient since the bulk of the practices we have inherited are from the times when materials, energy and work were  cheaper and awareness of the local and global impact of our wasteful ways of doing things was not there in the way it is now. But what about the shared leadership, has someone heard of that?

Sure at least at the Deutsche Bank , one of the most successful banks - if not the most successful - in Europe.  Couple of years back, they assumed dual leadership by Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain, former representing national/european view, whereas  latter - being a native Indian - giving insight to what is happening in Asia.  And the co-leadership seems to work very well.

In my previous blog, I wrote about  the the rising impact of Asian culture.  What it really does here in the West is that adds to the complexity we experience in all aspects of life: politics, science, business and so on. There is something we need to do to ward off the adverse impact of complexity. From the systemic point of view, the best way to do it is to share responsibility.

Of course, to do it requires huge amount of leadership itself. And it is one of the serious weaknesses of human being that he is tempted to adhere to the power once it has been acquired.   This means shared leadership requires some tempering down of the voice of the ego.

There is not that much research about shared leadership, although ever since Roman times co-leadership has been practiced. This is due to the fact that leadership paradigm, up to now, has emphasized the leader-centric model, where most important issue is that there is someone in the control room taking action when needed.  However, as economic borders of every kind are being demolished, cultural barriers easily arise to replace them.  While operating environment is becoming thus more complex, cross-cultural skills are becoming all the more important and practical approach to tackle this is to bring in diverse competence into the top of organization.

This has also a lot to do with new generations that yearn for flat organization models and are more tuned to working in small teams.  The best universities devote considerable amount of their pedagogic efforts into enabling students to learn by giving them tasks that are tackled by working in small groups. Team work skills may be the most essential competence for the ambitious student. We already know that in labor markets those skills count increasingly that has to do with social aspects of work. And vice versa: even the brightest person can get stuck if he or she is known as "difficult person".

There is a larger picture here we need to understand: whether you observe our communication systems, energy systems, or indeed different sort of new business and value models, sharing, decentralizing  is the key because it adds up to resilience.  This is a trend which will intensify itself in the decades to come, as we are riding the sixth wave.

In our complex world, with limited resources, it is simply a much smarter way.