Shared Leadership: An Adaptation to the Evolution of Management Styles

A CEO or team leader is constantly looking to improve their workers’ performance and increase their propensity to take initiatives. At the same time, these figureheads want to ensure a collaborative work environment, where every worker is comfortable to voice his/her ideas and perspectives on various issues, problems and the approaches to take to achieve different objectives.


The management style in organizations is constantly influenced by the socio-cultural context and by the type of industry in which it evolves. For example, the early 20th century mining industries managers treated their employees very differently than today’s CEO’s or figureheads. The management style encouraged child-labor, made workers work 12-14 hour days and permitted the hiring and firing of workers without prior notice. The social and legal context of the time allowed these actions until the revolts and revolutions and the subsequent implementation of Worker and Children Rights.


The case of the businesses of the past fifty years also demonstrates the influence of the socio-cultural context on the type of management. The working male was expected to excel not only in his work but also in his family life: he had to be a good father, to know when to punish and when to forgive and to always play an important part in the solving of problems, finding solutions and making decisions. Another example can be the first generation of consumers who did not know or understand the consequences of their excesses nor did they have the means to counter the effects.


The modern socio-cultural context has evolved once again with the most recent ways of thinking. The internet, social media and the increased access to education provides users with a new and unlimited power. Knowledge has evolved from being centralized and in the hands of a limited number of people, to being accessible to all individuals. Anybody, whether they are employees, suppliers or clients can create, discuss and get informed about any subject almost instantly. The expansion of enterprises is now determined by the collective opinion of workers; they determine whether the enterprise succeeds or fails on the market.


There are also internal factors that add to the external influences of the evolution of management styles. These include: the increasingly complex problems faced by organizations, the evolution of worker values
(i.e. the work-family equilibrium) and the ability of workers to find new solutions.
These factors require a new concept of relationships that is, a different rapport between the figureheads and the workers of a company. The model of shared leadership can serve to accommodate the new characteristics that define modern organizations.


Shared leadership is described as the implication of many and the contribution of every individual’s leadership towards to achievement of the common goals. It is a multilateral process of influence from bottom to top and vice-versa, between colleagues and through external partners of the organization (i.e. suppliers, local communities).


Edith Luc


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