Dispersed leadership

We have been thinking about what we understand by ‘leadership’, with the help of some ideas from ‘Power, Leadership and Change’ (OU Business School, 2000) produced by the Certificate in Management Programme Team:

Instead of seeing leadership as something invested in one person we  consider leadership as a process: – tackling the big issues that face a group or an organisation.

For example, if we agree that there are three types of core issues in a group or organisation:
Strategic: the overall direction of the group and the vision
Task: how the group will achieve what it wants to
People: maintaining the morale, commitment and enthusiasm of people over time

Then, a leader is someone who helps the group tackle any or all of these issues – meaning that there can be several leaders at any one time, all working on different things.

It is therefore possible to talk about leadership being ‘dispersed’ throughout the group or organisation – with some having more dispersed leadership than others depending upon culture and membership.

People can demonstrate leadership in different ways:

  • Reviewing where the group or organisation is going
  • Making sure people feel comfortable and welcomed
  • Searching for funding opportunities
  • Representing the group in wider forums
  • Researching matters of interest to the group
  • Knowing the local political and funding context

People can only be leaders if other members of the group or organisation accept them as leaders, accept their influence. This acceptance is often based on knowledge and expertise.

1 Comment to Dispersed leadership

  • Sal Hampson says:

    Thanks for the interest. We have produced a short handout on the subject – have a look here: http://changesuk.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/dispersed-leadership.doc

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