Adopting Shared Leadership | Leadership Podcast - CIO Talk Network
Leadership

Adopting Shared Leadership

Leadership - Adopting Shared Leadership
Adopting Shared Leadership

Leading today’s increasingly dynamic and complex organizations is too big a job for one person. Shared Leadership has its challenges and can be difficult to put in place. But, it holds a lot of promise. How can organizations successfully adopt shared leadership model to enjoy its many benefits?

 

Top 5 Learning Points

  1. A leader is not always a hero. He or she is a person who realizes the responsibility and works with teams to ensure results.
  2. The really successful leader is one who can work in multiple environments and then change their style to suit the environment.
  3. Leadership is ultimately about getting things done by applying various tools.
  4. Empowering the staff, giving them the sense of confidence to go out and do things is different from shared leadership.
  5. If you’re in the role because you want to have power and you want to control people, then it’s no fun.

 

Show Notes

  • It’s not about being factually correct and having all the information and having complete and absolute control but it’s having the right principles and doing the right thing all the time. That I think is true leadership.
  • Real leaders create teams, and mutuality of interests is what really drives the successful teams.
  • The leader is the catalyst, he’s the one or she’s the one who drives the mutuality of interest and the desire to the processed focused.
  • A real leader pushes decision making down to the lowest level possible.
  • The really successful leader is one who can work in multiple environments and then change their style to suit the environment.

 

Transcript Summary

It is important to understand that a leader is not a hero. How crucial it is for organizations to realize that empowering employees to become leaders in the need of the hour? How can companies put this into practice? And is shared leadership a possibility that can really be a part of the everyday routine? A detailed process of thought of how shared leadership can be put into the process.

 

Transcript:

Sanjog: The topic for today is, “Adopting Shared Leadership.” Our guest is Mark Roman, Chief Information Officer, Simon Fraser University.

Leadership has got so many different interpretations but over the years gave what companies are dealing with, the complexities and the variety of work and everything that they have to handle are all increasing. And it’s going to a very fast type of a pace. It doesn’t look like it is one person’s capability to handle it all, and still, we have lived with this notion that as soon as you talk about leadership, it’s singular. How someone can deal with all of this and not crumble and basically, will they be able to do justice to it? That means there should be a way and there is an established concept of shared leadership. A lot of people talk about it but then it has not been adopted as well.

What’s the road to an adoption of a shared leadership were people up, down sideways, everyone comes together with a common goal? They’re not reporting to this one person. They’re like a swarm of ants who are moving together taking accountability.

What would be the steps to going at least closer to that Nirvana? We are still living that one singular leadership, like for example, you as a CIO, what’s going on in your organization? Are you not at the end of the day left holding the bag in front of the fire when something goes south?

Mark: When something goes South, it always lands on my lap whether I’m responsible or not. I think it’s interesting you talk about the swarm of ants and it’s almost like an army of bots that would work together and it sounds magical.

We read science fiction or we look at some examples in nature and think that that’s an alternative. But if we look at great leaders in history, they were faced with similar kinds of issues. If you look at the rise of Napoleon, it seemed like utter absolute chaos and how could one leader emerge to deal with this that’s hugely complex issue and yet these leaders to emerge. These leaders do emerge, single leaders do emerge and it seems almost impossible. But being a leader isn’t about being right all the time or having all the answers. It’s about being willing to do the right thing all the time. What I’m saying is you need to think that it’s not about being factually correct and having all the information and having complete and absolute control but it’s having the right principles and doing the right thing all the time. That I think is true leadership.

We think that the leader has to be this hero. I worry that sometimes a hero is a sign that we have no process and that our organization isn’t well structured. Heroes are a sign of bad process, you need to look for ways to transcend the hero model and understand that leadership isn’t about heroes. Leadership is about somebody who has the right ethics and put the right processes in place. How do you bring all that together? Real leaders create teams, and mutuality of interests is what really drives the successful teams that create that swarm of ants if you will. The teams where no one is a hero and everyone focus really on creating better processes and delivering the appropriate customer service or whatever it is that your organization is about. The leader is the catalyst, he’s the one or she’s the one who drives the mutuality of interest and the desire to the processed focused.

But being a leader isn’t about being right all the time or having all the answers. It’s about being willing to do the right thing all the time.

Sanjog: Imagine if that person was stripped off their title and is a great leader. The beauty of an environment that they create is that it should be sustained but it doesn’t remain that way. That means somewhere underlying, not necessarily even if the person is not trying to be in a command and control approach, there’s an implied expectation. There’s someone that I’m accountable to. In the absence of that person, things start not immediately crumbling but there’s a decay factor and that means we have not let go of that notion that a person at the top is the one who is going to. We still talk about one pied piper, we don’t talk a bunch of pied pipers in the group, isn’t it? I’m trying to break that notion, people are trying to see if there’s a way that shared leadership concept could be introduced to everyone’s benefit.

Mark: I think sometimes we mistake shared leadership for other things. I think that it’s really important when we talk about the notion of breaking it up is that a leader has to know when to create a sense of empowerment. A real leader pushes decision making down to the lowest level possible. Let’s think of two examples, and let’s go to the military organizations for example. If you think about the two most successful military organizations in the 20th century, it would probably be the Israeli army and the German army in 1939, 1940. Both had huge success. If you think about why they were so successful, it was primarily because they pushed decision making down to the lowest level in the organization. They had generals and five-star folks with all kinds of brass on them but in the end, they pushed the decision making down to where it made sense. Created organizations that were agile, they made better decisions to empowerment but ultimately there is always the senior general who is accountable for the success or the failure of the organization.

Let’s look at the university example. The universities are managed by a vast array of interwoven matrices. There are three cultures in a university. There’s an academic culture which is collegial, it’s open for discussion. There’s academic freedom. There is then the administrative side of the university which is really a traditional hierarchy and much more like top-down bureaucratic organization. Then there’s the research society university, which is very entrepreneurial. People make decisions quickly, they try things, and if they fail, they try something else. They take those three cultures. The academic culture, the administrative culture and the research culture, and you bring them together into a single organization, it makes it very, very difficult to make decisions. There’s different levels of decision making, risk tolerance, urgency agility in these three cultures.

The really successful leader is one who can work in multiple environments and then change their style to suit the environment. When you think about this one great leader, well the really great leaders are ones that are adaptive. They have an adaptive style to different cultures. The challenge is really for the leader to have a set of core values and principles of leadership that really transcend culture. In the end, if you look at the university, ultimately whatever happens in that university is accountability of the President. Despite the fact that they probably don’t have a lot of direct control what they can influence is the set of principles by which the organization operates by. I think quite often there is a limited degree of direct leadership but there is always some sort of ultimate accountability for command and control whether you look at the successful military example or if you look at a university environment. That’s kind of my perspective on that.

The successful leader is one who can work in multiple environments and then change their style to suit the environment. When you think about this one great leader, well the really great leaders are ones that are adaptive.

Sanjog: Whatever you just said, definitely there is some historical proof to something is working. Imagine, the general had a scope of things to be done. You’ve got to go, win the war, this is the other country that you’re having a war against. Now imagine, I’m going to bring you back to your CIO camp if you will. Digital coming from all different directions, business internally saying I want something yesterday and I want something new which you never tackled before. The business outside which you and those other internal business leaders, the customers that you’re referring to. They’re changing their approaches on how they want to tackle or how they want to even deal with you and how they expect the value to be delivered by you. All of that happening, means the volume, the variety, the velocity. All three are changing. I am sure that you are a very experienced individual who has dealt with things and you’ve learned your stripes, but those stripes, what got you here would not take you there. It’s not that there’s a limitation of you as a leader but it’s a limitation of a human being able to tackle so much for so long and with efficiency.

That means we’re saying, let there be a type of organization so shared leadership is not a dent on or a digging the CIO or any leader individually. It is about sayi... Read Full Transcript v  

Contributors

Mark Roman, Chief Information Officer, Simon Fraser University

Mark Roman has served as Simon Fraser University's chief information officer (CIO), since Sept 2015. He was most recently associate vice-president of information and communications technology and chief information officer at the Universi... More   View all posts
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