Creating a new team dynamic with diffused leadership

Sep 10, 2018
By Declan Noone

Modern organisations are complex entities. Within them, there is a series of systems designed to support the execution of the organisation’s strategy. An organisation’s leaders are there to make sense of both external and internal factors that can impact the business. These factors can impact in such a way that it can become a challenge for management to appreciate the consequences of certain decisions, actions and behaviours. However, traditional leadership models with its limited vision still prevail across many organisations. These models place the onus on the leader to maintain a high level of situational awareness across multiple areas and control over their employees. 

Consideration needs to be given by leaders to a more ‘power to’ dynamic rather a ‘power over’ ones. The 2016 report Leadership at Work: Do Australian leaders have what it takes? by the Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne, says in a progressive approach, followers are viewed as 'co-producers’ of leadership as it exists "in a more complex set of interactions between formally designated leaders and their followers, and among followers working interdependently (in teams) with each other."

Essentially, an organisation should be seeking to develop a diffused leadership model where the leader, at any level, creates a positive-working dynamic with their co-producers that both empowers and enables them to act with greater autonomy in their day-to-day work. However, empowering co-producers to take action based on their knowledge and experience creates a number of unique challenges for a leader.

Challenges

Changing your mindset

Letting go of the reins and empowering others is difficult, as moving from what you know to a new approach requires a move outside your comfort zone. But it can encourage mutual respect, wider team participation, more diverse opinions, trust and a feeling of added value for all members.

Creating a new team dynamic

For a team to flourish, each individual needs to appreciate how their own behaviours and performance level impacts on others. Engaging in a positive and constructive conversation achieves collective buy-in regarding how we work, how we perform, and where our responsibilities and accountability lie. Therefore, enforcement is not driven by a leader, but rather by a leader and their co-producers together.

Enhancing resilience levels

Certainly, in the early stages of the transition, there will be a lot of pressure placed on the leader. This is due to increasing levels of information and guidance being sought from co-producers while work practices change. As such, leaders need to build an enhanced level of personal resilience. Understanding how being focused and calm, having emotional control and having a greater degree of willpower can all positively impact your emotional resilience while developing the same can improve your mental, physical, spiritual and social resilience.

Co-producers will also have increased pressures and stresses as a result of their increased responsibilities. Therefore working on enhancing personal and team resilience levels is a must.

Upskilling

Developing an understanding of positive psychology, behavioural science and mindfulness, and their application in your professional and personal life is an important evolutionary step in your personal leadership development.

Conclusion

Creating a diffused leadership model in your workplace is not an easy transition. However, by diffusing leadership responsibilities to co-producers you afford people the opportunity to develop:

  • Enhanced personal and professional skills (mastery)
  • Greater levels of independence (autonomy)
  • Increased levels of engagement
  • Improved connectivity to work and colleagues (relatedness)
  • Greater job satisfaction.
By diffusing workloads, you create more time for leaders to become actively engaged in strategically important projects for their organisation.

Declan Noone is the co-founder of Serrano99.

This article was originally published in Positive and Mindful Leader.