Articles

Co-leadership

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What do you envision when you hear the term “co-leadership”? Do you immediately see an image of a team sharing ideas, collaborating and creating together? Or, do you see two individuals sharing responsibilities and leadership of a team? Perhaps you are completely unfamiliar with the idea of co-leadership.

Even if co-leadership seems like a relatively new concept, the idea of leading together has a long history. Whether you were aware of it or not, you have likely seen co-leadership play out in some form. In your personal life you may have served on a committee with co-chairs. Perhaps you have worked in an organization during a transition when the outgoing president and the incoming president shared the lead role for a period of time. Our government even utilizes the concept of co-leadership in the President and Vice-President structure. Co-leadership is certainly a part of the fabric of our society and something you are likely to encounter in either your personal or professional life. It is only increasing in frequency as the youngest generation, which places a high value on collaboration, begins to step into leadership roles.

Despite the prevalence of co-leadership, there are, at times, somewhat mixed opinions about the process and results of co-leadership. However, when well-executed co-leadership can be a dynamic strategy with incredible results.

What can we do to ensure that we maximize the benefits and minimize the difficulties of co-leadership?

1. Enter with humble confidence. It is important to reflect before entering into a co-leadership position. Remind yourself what it is that you bring to the table and be confident in those skills and attributes. However, it is important to temper that confidence with humility. Remember that you do not have all of the answers. Co-leadership is an opportunity to bring complimentary skills and talents to the leadership position. Start from a place of trust rather than competition.

2. Take a learning stance. Be sure to take the opportunity to learn about the position, about yourself and about the other person you will be leading with. Embrace any differences you encounter. These are what make co-leadership so exciting and powerful. As you learn to embrace these differing points of view, you both will be challenged and stretched in creative and productive ways that you never imagined.

3. Set clear expectations. From the beginning it is critical to discuss the expectations of all parties involved including all co-leaders and the organization. This includes topics like roles, responsibilities and conflict management. Use these discussions to craft a clear set of boundaries, parameters and expectations. This way all will start on the same page and will be headed in the same direction.

4. Maintain open communication. In order to build a successful co-leadership situation, it is important to keep all lines of communication open and honest. Especially between the co-leaders. In co-leadership the only way to be successful is to respect each other and to work together as a team. This does not mean that you must agree at all turns and become best friends. Perhaps the best method for you might be to divide tasks and focus on separate items. However, you will still need to maintain respect and communication as you continue to co-lead the same team.

5. Build in assessment and feedback time. It is important to evaluate the challenges and successes of the co-leadership structure regularly. Learn from all parties. Ask what is working well and what needs improvement. This is also a good time to evaluate the vision for the future. It is wise to make adjustments as needed in order to move forward with clarity and purpose.

Better Listening, Better Conversation

Amanda Dreher - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Have you ever thought about listening? I mean really taken some time to consider what it means to listen. Do you simply hear people around you or do you internalize and understand what they are saying? Do you talk with others simply to pass the time or to be polite or do you really try to learn something about that person?

In our hectic pace of life, listening has often become a lost art. We rarely have deep, connected conversations with those we encounter everyday, let alone with those we may have just met. However, when we fail to value those discussions, we overlook opportunities to connect with others, to learn from them, to learn about them and to learn about ourselves.

"I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening." – Larry King

So, how can I listen better?

1. Observe: Start to pay attention to your conversations. Notice how you listen to others. Notice how they listen to you. Take note of the good, the bad and the ugly of the conversation. Come up with your own list of good and bad listening habits.

2. Analyze: Once you have noted the good and bad listening habits in yourself and those around you. Take some time to personalize them, think about how these habits impact the conversation and your perception of the person practicing them.

3. Implement: Now that you have thought about how good and bad listening habits affect not only a conversation, but also your perceptions of the people you interact with. Decide on a couple of good habits to intentionally use in your conversations. Also pay attention to how the conversation was impacted.

No matter what your current listening habits, with some work and intentionality you can better your listening skills and ultimately better your conversations.


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