How to share that leadership load

“The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders”

Mary Parker Follet

Dear Reader!

Being a leader, whether of a company or a family, is invigorating, exciting: an honour.

It’s also heavy. A responsibility. A drain.

This is exacerbated by an attitude of leader-as-hero.

The one who needs to have all the solutions.

So what is the alternative?

How to lighten the load?

The answer is to a shift in perspective from idolising individual leadership to a model of shared leadership.

Empowering the people “below” to be leaders as well.

This benefits everyone.

It frees the leader from the weight of being all-knowing and all-doing.

It energises and engages employees.

It creates a much more rich and diverse company, something greater than the sum of its parts.

As Mary Parker Follet says

“Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led”

She said that in 1924.

I think we can apply it to 2022.

Have a wonderful weekend all.


How to “create more leaders”?

Here are 4 simple starting points.

Please apply to your employees, team or indeed your children.

1) Don’t micromanage
When meeting with colleagues. Actively listen and then ask solution-focussed questions to empower people to come up with their own way forward. Don’t infantilise people and therefore create a rod for your own back by leaping to figure their dilemmas. Empower them instead.

2)  Co-create 
This can be applied to many things which historically have come from the top: job descriptions and responsibilities, goals, working structures. Instead of telling people what they are going to do and when they are going to do it work together to figure out what is the most energising and productive way for them to work. The result: they’ll be energised and therefore manage and ultimately lead themselves.

3)  Actively create a system for inclusive dialogue
At meetings ensure everyone gets a voice by actively inviting everyone to speak. Instill the practice of “rounds” in which you go clockwise round the table/zoom screen requesting that everyone addresses a question whatever level they are in the company and whatever the magnitude of the question. If  you don’t like the idea of having such an overt system reflect on the fact that you probably do in reality already have a “system” i.e the most extrovert/senior people dominate the room. By creating a more consciously inclusive environment it allows people to have a sense of their own intrinsic importance and therefore step into their leadership potential.

4) Create a learning environment 
Rather than pretending you always know everything admit your mistakes, admit when you are winging it, admit when you feel unsure. This will allow everyone to feel safe themselves to step out of their comfort zone, to experiment and to learn from failure. And the main thing they will learn is that everyone has the capacity to lead: you do not have to be perfect. Amen.