Leadership Institute


Date of this Version



Published in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, July 7, 2008.


It’s a common corporate approach to a problem: Build a team of experts from different parts of the company and ask them to find a solution. But these teams could be a lot more effective if companies took one radical step: share leadership. This concept, of course, flies in the face of the traditional idea of how companies should operate. One person in charge, and the others follow. But in a team of specialists, one expert usually doesn’t have the know-how to understand all the facets of the job at hand. Instead, a better approach is to share the top duties, so the person in charge at any moment is the one with the key knowledge, skills and abilities for the aspect of the job at hand. When that changes, a new expert should step to the fore. Our research, in fact, suggests that teams that perform poorly tend to be dominated by the team leader, while high-performing teams have a shared-leadership structure. But beware: There are some risks executives run by sharing the reins. And our research suggests also that success may depend on the particular country where a business is operating.