Co-Leading is the new Normal. More and more top roles are being filled by tandems of leaders. And their motivation is manifold, not least to have an exciting role, whilst also being able to live a full life that includes family, friends, time for self and hobbies.
But what’s in it for organisations?
And why do more and more organisations explicitly invite co-leaders to apply for open leadership positions?
There are probably many reasons, and one of them is to gain and retain talent. Talent which is not ready to sacrifice their whole life on the altar of work.
Yet there is another, far bigger reason why every organisation should invest in the skill of co-leading, and that is:
Many of today’s problems are too complex for one person to grasp, for a lone decision maker to solve.
That’s why organisations need to truly use the full leadership potential of all of their employees. This requires them to invest into empowerment and into more flow and flux of information as well as creativity between divisions and levels. They also need to relieve pressure on leaders who are collapsing, if not physically then at least cognitively and emotionally, under the heavy weight of responsibility for ‘getting it right’.
The constant stream of information, and the ever increasing uncertainty and ambiguity that burdens leaders, calls for trustworthy sparring partnership and exchange.
That’s why many top leaders have a coach.
A good coach allows the leader to gain self-awareness, clarity on what they want to create and confidence that they can do it. Coaches can also give outside perspectives and their advantage is that they are not entangled in the organisation’s politics. Yet the co-leader has the opposite advantage: They ARE in the organisation and know it inside out! The coach can be a great sparring partner, sounding board and leadership growth partner, while a co-leader can be their partner’s “coach in the pocket”, an ever present second perspective. And they can strategise and brainstorm ideas on any given problem from within the organisation.
We all know co-leaders who have known each other for a long time, who knew that they sync well before formally sharing a role. And there is a myth that comes with that: the chemistry must be right!
But in reality co-leading is not a question of having good chemistry before starting to work together. It’s about CREATING good chemistry, which is a skill you can learn.
Co-leading needs a good set up.
Organisations which invest in developing co-leading skills and allow for high, indeed the highest, positions to be shared, are well equipped for successfully engaging with the emerging economic, social, political, technological and environmental landscapes. A vista of ever faster and uncertain information.
To not be alone brings leaders the safety that they need to make bold and creative decisions in the face of that speed and uncertainty. Many lone leaders are running around in circles, overwhelmed and seemingly headless.
Co-leading is a great way to support leaders in their constant need to recover from reacting to change. Two people with complementary skills are better equipped to create change and to shape the transition that an organisation is going through rather than being tossed about by it.
How are you transitioning from the model of lone leadership to co-leading?