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3iQ Thought Leadership Series Article 1: Distributed Leadership
Introduction
Distributed Leadership builds many legs for the organisation to stand on, widening the foundations of competency and internal structures for growth that support sustainable growing organisations and enable them to provide economic viability and later social services back to their communities. By focusing on developing leadership at every level in the organisation, the Distributed Leadership framework provides a holistic perspective to manage leadership and organisational development. Adopting a soccer team metaphor for team level focus of distributed leadership, the focus of performance development as any soccer coach knows, is one of balancing a team’s functioning ensuring no one dominates and everyone has a chance to make their plays. In organisational terms this means distributing leadership and its development across all levels of the organisation and ensuring that ball can pass fluidly and well between team members, and sub-sections of teams from defenders to middle field to frontline goal makers, that everyone accepts their role and position yet has a pathway from growth and development, receives coaching on and off the field, feels a strong sense of ownership of their team goals and has a part to play in developing and implementing their teams strategy and tactics. Distributed Leadership aims to make everyone a leader, including those in follower roles. Offering followers opportunities to learn to manage up, work collaboratively and develop their self-management is an integral component of Distributed Leadership. Running counter to high performance models Distributed Leadership offers everyone in the organisation consistent and appropriate development opportunities and sets expectations of them to manage their development. Definitely lip-service doesn’t fit with Distributed Leadership. Discrepancies or inappropriate programme fit to levels, mismatches or favouritism quickly emerge and fail the Distributed Leadership principle of integrity. Trust is easily broken and takes considerable effort to recover. Distributed Leadership shifts the focus to expect and support development of high performance and mutual support from everyone. Managing unwanted excesses such as stress or misalignment of demands and competency is achieved through emphasising self-control and team-support as integral components of a strong Distributed Leadership programme.

Distributed Leadership
Distributed Leadership crystalises management governance and human resources attention towards building leadership at every level and in every individual and every team in the organisation. Let’s identify the following basic levels in organisations: individuals, teams, knowledge specialists, team leaders, line managers, business managers, functional managers and division and enterprise managers. Of course the Board of Directors or Governing body is an essential level to be included here. Distributed leadership involves planning and developing clear guiding principles for leadership at every level. These principles need to be converted transparently, promoted widely and consistently to into functional programmes and actions throughout the organisation that develop leadership at every level.
©3iQLeadership 2009 Commercial-in-Confidence Page 1

every mutually supportive high performing team is a leadership group. strong internal trust. gather their own data against their metrics.3iQLeadership Integrit y | Inspiration | Innovation Consulting Coaching Training Systems Support Distributed Leadership applies principles and practices relevant to each level of leadership and its development that will efficiently and effectively develop and optimize integration of leadership throughout the organisation. line leadership and senior management practices create the context for self. with such individuals and teams acting as crucibles of performance development through positive social experiences. Distributed Leadership is an organisational design and development philosophy that builds strength through creating high performing mutually supportive individuals and teams. Distributed Leadership translated into practice means HR leadership. self-managed leadership. Distributed Leadership is a goal and a journey. set their own objectives. team and business growth and development. and feedback and reflection. business units and the organisation as a whole to get increasingly involved in managing their own performance growth and development. Features The Guiding Principles of Distributed Leadership follow:  Everyone is a leader. open internal and external communications. and reflect on their performance frequently Commercial-in-Confidence Page 2 ©3iQLeadership 2009 . are coached and endorsed but not decided by the team leader o Teams derive their feedback regularly from two primary sources: internal team members and external customers they serve o Teams aim to meet the six guiding team principles for high-performing teams:  Mutually supportive. and every senior manager’s role is to facilitate development of all the individuals and teams in their business division or unit  Individual level principles: o Everyone has access to self-leadership development opportunities from personal productivity to team leadership and beyond and are expected to develop their leadership skills and individual and team performance o Everyone has a coach – typically their immediate supervisor o Everyone has an opportunity to choose and commit to clear positive guiding work values in the organisation and demonstrate these in their self-leadership behaviours  Team Level principles: o Everyone belongs to at least one and preferably not more than three teams at any one time o Team goal setting and performance development is facilitated by the team leader o Team goals and actions are decided by all members of the team and are framed on a simple balanced scorecard system developed by the team. opportunity for career development and innovation and ethical behaviour. High performing mutually supportive teams are the core sources of self-development. These practices encourage individuals and their teams. action-learning.

Most ©3iQLeadership 2009 Commercial-in-Confidence Page 3 . and systems. and direct contribution towards social development programmes o Everyone benefits The Way Ahead Current perspectives of leadership and organisational development are typically something less than holistic and systemic. an alliance of power and support to carry it from inception to application and finally supporting policy. roles and accountabilities. Critical mass of support. themselves and their organisation o Building and sustaining alignment between personal and organisational brands for everyone o Advancing the organisation’s contribution to its social leadership role and contributing to the communities it serves and draws talent Benefits The benefits of Distributed Leadership when effectively implemented include:  Individuals grow – are expected and supported to develop themselves and their selfleadership through providing the social context and tools that enable opportunities for growth and development  Teams become high performing and mutually supportive – by growing teams using the six guiding principles  Organisations – become high-performing and adaptive through the progressive development of individuals. strategies and commitments to actions that reinforce individual and team commitments to the values and success of their teams. Adopting a significantly stronger and more robust perspective on leadership development and its role in contributing to organisational growth is a vital social driving force that we must learn to harness. tools. Major inputs needed for adopting a Distributed Leadership programme in any organisation follow the common principles of change management applicable to any large scale change or culture development. Distributed Leadership raises the expectations of leadership to everyone and supports their development. their teams and their leadership at all levels  Community – develops through the participation of economic success of its organisations. strategic drivers either internally or externally or sourced from both. avoidance of organisational misdemeanours and failures. Recently we have seen the effects of organisational failures on employment. Distributed Leadership provides a holistic framework to plan and position leadership development and its vital role in contributing to total organisational robustness and resilience.3iQLeadership Integrit y | Inspiration | Innovation  Consulting Coaching Training Systems Support Business/Enterprise Level principles: o Leadership involves senior managers communicating about and facilitating translation of forces and conditions in the external environment to opportunities for growth and development of structures. leadership branding and our global society as a whole that have been very damaging to our communities. key stakeholders and champions. internal policies.

This third step of defining how you will get there is not yours alone and must be shared. Using Distributed Leadership as framework and tool. Knowing where you are and where you want to go are two keys to completing a journey successfully. From this starting point you can then commence defining needs and developing programme components to fill the gaps that fit your internal and external conditions. No matter where you are staring from you will need to calibrate your starting point by examining each level and its’ progress against the guiding principles above.3iQLeadership Integrit y | Inspiration | Innovation Consulting Coaching Training Systems Support organisations are somewhere along the path towards the goal of Distributed Leadership. The next page presents the key leadership development imperatives and principles in a model. most have some types of leadership development programmes in place. all of your organisation can be prepared and ready to start on this journey. ©3iQLeadership 2009 Commercial-in-Confidence Page 4 .

make it that way * Every Senior Manager is responsible for facilitating development of all individuals.3iQ Leadership Development Imperatives and Principles Leadership Development Imperatives: * Expect and grow leadership at every level and in every employee in your organisation * Every team is a mutually supportive high performing team. roles and accountabilities. are coached and endorsed but not decided by the team leader * Teams derive their feedback regularly from two primary sources: internal team members and external customers they serve * Teams aim to meet the six guiding team principles for high-performing teams: * Mutually supportive. strategies and commitments to actions that reinforce individual and team commitments to the values and success of their teams. teams and business divisions or units under their command Individual Leadership Development Principles: Everyone has access to self-leadership development opportunities from personal productivity to team leadership and beyond and are expected to develop their leadership skills and individual and team performance Everyone has a coach – typically their immediate supervisor Everyone has an opportunity to choose and commit to clear positive guiding work values in the organisation and demonstrate these in their selfleadership behaviours Team Level principles: * Everyone belongs to at least one and preferably not more than three teams at any one time * Team goal setting and performance development is facilitated by the team leader * Team goals and actions are decided by all members of the team and are framed on a simple balanced scorecard system developed by the team. set their own objectives. gather their own data against their metrics. and reflect on their performance frequently Business/Enterprise Level principles: Leadership involves senior managers communicating about and facilitating translation of forces and conditions in the external environment to opportunities for growth and development of structures. open internal and external communications. themselves and their organisation Building and sustaining alignment between personal and organisational brands for everyone Advancing the organisation’s contribution to its social leadership role and contributing to the communities it serves and draws talent ©3iQLeadership 2009 Commercial-in-Confidence Page 5 . internal policies. strong internal trust.

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