There are two leadership philosophies which guide my own thoughts on the matter. These two philosophies are Distributed Leadership and Participative Leadership. According to Bennet et al “Distributed leadership is not something ‘done’ by an individual ‘to’ others, or a set of individual actions through which people contribute to a group or organization… [it] is a group activity that works through and within relationships, rather than individual action.” (Bennett et al. 2003, p. 3) Participative Leadership is defined by Clark D.E. (2013) “A style of leadership in which the leader involves one or more employees in determining what to do and how to do it. The leader maintains final decision making authority.”
The old saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” a leader who wants to follow the guiding principals of Distributed and Participative Leadership Theories would change this saying into, “many heads are better than one”. They would follow the acronym for TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More. In this manner leadership is an inclusive process of leading. All team members are included in these form of leadership as their input is considered important. In these styles of leadership the leaders role is less about giving orders and assignments and more about facilitating the decision making process. (Tatum, 2014) There are several positive outcomes when this methodology is used. First, a greater amount of possibilities for the team are created by increasing the various perspectives and angles used to approach a problem. This can often help to discover strengths and weaknesses which may or may not have been seen otherwise (Tatum, 2014). Second, when this type of approach is used, others are encouraged to take a participative role in decision making and problem solving and this can lead to more effective brainstorming and approaches to problems (Tatum, 2014).
Not everyone on a team possess the same strengths. It is best practice in leadership to focus on your own strengths and the strengths of those on your leadership team. When leadership is distributed or shared the strengths of the team can be built and the team becomes more effective. According Rath and Conchie (2008) the most influential and effective leader is one that invests in strengths, surround themselves with the right people in order to maximize the team and understands the needs of their followers.
According to the StrengthsFinder Assessment, my top five leadership themes are belief, input, learner, responsibility and communication. These strengths help to define me as a leader. The nature of my own belief that more heads are better than one, (a conviction based on my belief that all things should be solved through consultation) as well as my “input” theme, the idea that everyone involved should have a say, is also a big aspect of my style of leadership. My constant desire for input in order to get new information and learn new things from various perspectives, guides me in involving others in the process of making decisions. My style is more participative. Whatever I do, it is done to my best ability. Rarely do I do things haphazardly. I can be trusted and others can rely on what I say. I also feel that I have the responsibility to get input from everyone involved. This is directly related to participative and a distributed leadership theories and allows me to ensure a stronger team effort. In the end being a great leader is not about being great at everything, it is through focusing on your own strengths that will make you a great leader.
Bennett, N., Wise, C., Woods, P.A. and Harvey, J.A. (2003). Distributed Leadership. Nottingham: National College of School Leadership
Bolden, R. (2011). Distributed leadership in organizations: A review of theory and research.International Journal of Management Reviews, 13(3), 251-269.
Clark, D. R. (2013, May 4). Glossary of leadership definitions: A reference for defining leadership terms. Retrieved January 24, 2014, from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leaddef.html
Strengths-Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow. (n.d.). Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1103548142?ean=2901595620254
Tatum, M. (2014, January 6). What is Participative Leadership? (with pictures). wiseGEEK. Retrieved January 24, 2014, from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-participative-leadership.htm