Three reasons why your organisation should be embracing co-leadership
“It takes two flints to make a fire.” Louisa May Alcott
Research has shown that shared leadership can lead to increased collaboration, creativity and innovation, with a better sense of team belonging and more opportunities for development having the benefits of two minds, skills and experiences.
Co-leadership is where two (or more) individuals share accountability over a team or organisation. High profile examples include Reed Hastings and Ted Serandos (Co-CEOs of Netflix), Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsey (Co-Leaders of The Green Party), and, in a very recent move, Bret Taylor and Marc Benioff (Co-CEOs of Salesforce).
But, what does this mean for organisations, and why should this model be embraced now?
Strength and resilience
Leadership roles are big roles. Many leaders state that they feel stretched, have difficulties in balancing all that is demanded of them, it’s lonely at the top. Think of the daily complex problems and challenges, time pressures and critical decision making responsibility. That's a lot, right?
Now, think about sharing that load…
Joint leaders often say that sharing the leadership responsibility gives them strength and stamina in their everyday work.
What has become very apparent over the past two years is that the organisations that are able to thrive are those that are adaptable to change, and those that can work quickly through conflicting priorities and demands.
When we spoke with Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles (Co-CEOs of Friends of the Earth) back in September this year, they told us how during the uncertainty of the pandemic they were able to ‘flex up’, providing FOE with greater leadership capacity to problem solve and make decisions during an unprecedented time.
In a co-leadership role, the role no longer becomes a lonely one...sharing a leadership role means bouncing ideas off each other, having a unique sounding board, going through those challenges together, as a duo. Strength and resilience is heightened on an individual level, but also on a broader scale.
2. Diversity of thought
The power of two leaders solving problems together, challenging, supporting and developing from one another means innovative, more thought through and higher quality strategic outcomes.
As Tim Berners-Lee said, “We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges.”
The inventor of the World Wide Web puts it so clearly. Multiple viewpoints mean that there is a wider pool of knowledge and experience brought to each idea or strategic decision. This enhances creativity and innovation, and can inspire new insights.
Together, co-leaders can be more efficient and effective, adapting to change and acting quicker against adversity.
Simply put, co-leaders will surpass what could be accomplished individually. More room to think, more room to grow.
It has been proven that co-leading boosts productivity, reduces the risk of poor decision making, and, as highlighted above, enhances resilience.
My three-year-old's current favourite phrase from pre-school is ‘teamwork makes the dreamwork’. It sure does.
Working as a team enhances collaboration, improves innovation, and allows for greater development.
That means growth. Individually, socially, ethically and monetarily.
Salesforce is the latest organisation to announce their co-CEO structure. A global brand, being the world’s number one CRM software solution, with annual revenue reportedly reaching $21.25bn in the 2021 fiscal year. This is a progressive organisation, paving the way in the technology space and a daring move. In a recent conference call following this announcement, Benioff (Founder and co-CEO) said, “I’m very excited about the co-CEO structure. These jobs are big jobs and being able to have a partner that you can share with makes it a lot easier.”
We believe that two minds really are better than one. In a world of constant change, co-leadership is on the rise. Shareholders and communities are embracing diversity of thought, and it has been proven that diverse organisations are more profitable ones.
Do you think co-leadership is the way forward? We’d love to know your thoughts...comment and share below.
Curious to learn more about how to implement job sharing, or make co-leadership successful, at your organisation? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free 20-minute exploratory call.