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Collective Leadership in Business

Blog - Collective Leadership in Business

What comes to mind when you hear the word leadership? I'm sure an image of one man/woman with plenty of authority and decision-making power springs to mind. 

This is what is known as top-down leadership, the most traditional style of leadership. 

In this blog post, we are going to speak about a different kind of leadership, collective leadership, and how it can be applied in businesses to achieve positive results.

What is collective leadership?

Collective leadership is not a business term at heart. 

A basic collective leadership definition would be a political or social term used to describe an 'ideal society', one where leadership is shared and all members work together to achieve a common goal with effort spread equally. 

In business, collective leadership theory could be described as having multiple leaders, who are all responsible for making decisions and managing the business. It means more responsibility and accountability for all leaders involved, and also a better organizational structure and culture where more opinions are heard and everyone has a voice.  

Collective leadership is an altogether different structure than top-down leadership.

How can businesses create a collective leadership structure?

Collective leadership requires a team where everyone is able to listen to others, a hiring manager who hires high-quality, like-minded people, and members who empower and engage each other. 

Shared responsibility is one of five elements of collective leadership, the rest are: trust, transparent and effective communication, accountability, and shared learning.

A collectively led team should be comprised of members who are all equal and there should be no ‘alpha’ roles or overbearing members. There should also be members coming from a variety of different perspectives and backgrounds as they can all bring something different to the table. 

One way that many businesses try to introduce a more collective leadership structure is by having frequent management meetings with heads or managers of different departments. This group of leaders then work together to tackle large business matters, instead of the CEO being solely responsible.

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Benefits of collective leadership

1. Collective leadership helps bring your business together

By creating a team made up of members from different departments or backgrounds, you are able to bring all parts of your business under one umbrella. 

This leads to better communication between employees and more understanding of every department's role in the business. 

2. Collective leadership helps to create consistency in a business

By gathering different leaders together on a regular basis, collective leadership ensures that everyone is on the same page. 

This is especially important if you want to create and maintain a consistent message across your different channels. 

3. Collective leadership increase flexibility 

Collective leadership creates a culture that is much more responsive to challenges and also encourages leaders to respond innovatively. 

Collective leadership in business examples

Cisco is a great example of a successful collective leadership initiative. When the company’s growth began to decrease, they decided to shake up their organisational structure.

They replaced their traditional top-down leadership structure with a collaborative model comprised of boards and councils. Power was replaced with shared responsibility and Cisco’s fortunes began to change. 

They introduced a C-LEAD model which is an anagram for the words collaborate, learn, execute, accelerate and disrupt. The model works to increase collaboration amongst executives and also the amount of ‘super-teams’ in the company, as opposed to a small number of super individuals.  

Cisco admits that implementing a collective leadership programme was hard work at first. Annmarie Neal, Vice President of the Cisco Center for Collaborative Leadership says that she had to "[make] it clear to executives that their interests rest with the success of the group. And from Cisco's perspective, collaborative success is the key to our future.

How can Plecto help collective leadership?

As mentioned above, one of the key ways that collective leadership works is by having leaders from different departments work together effectively.

Plecto helps make this easier by allowing members of the leadership team to have access to dashboards where they can monitor business progress. This could be a special 'leaders' dashboard or a dashboard for each of their departments so other members of the team can see business progress in each department. This also helps to increase the level of shared responsibility amongst the leadership team. 

Plecto also helps increase visibility amongst the leadership team and employees so that everyone is on the same page - a key requirement of a successful collective leadership initiative.  



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