Leaders can become overworked and burnt out if they are unable to comfortably control every task and responsibility. This has the potential to create a tense working environment and can lead to damaging outcomes for both employees and business operations.

If this situation sounds familiar to you, it could be time to revisit your management style and adopt a distributed approach. If your business is experiencing growth and you’re finding it hard to keep up, distributed leadership could help to create the support you need, with the people who are most equipped to provide it.

Let’s dive deeper into the characteristics of distributed leadership and learn more about how it could be advantageous for you as a manager.

What is distributed leadership?

As the name suggests, distributed leadership allocates responsibility and accountability throughout an organisation. This form of leadership gives department managers more authority, as opposed to a hierarchical management structure, which sees leadership sit with a single individual.

This structure was initially very popular within the education system, however it’s now being adopted across a wider variety of industries. It’s proven to be very effective in supporting leaders who are prepared to develop their own skills, whilst guiding the next generation of leaders.

The Advantages of distributed leadership

What positive changes can eventuate from distributed leadership? There are many beneficial outcomes for you as a manager, as well as employees and the wider business.

Improved leadership culture

When power is distributed amongst individuals, it encourages a stronger sense of teamwork and cooperation. Instead of all direct reports seeking your approval, decisions can be made after constructively discussing the outcomes amongst all leaders.

The wheels keep turning

If you’re unavailable, decisions can still be made by other leaders who are equipped with the knowledge and authority to do so. A traditional hierarchy can still be maintained, however more leaders are given the responsibility to act on behalf of the business.

There is more transparency within your organisation

A larger leadership team means more eyes on your business’ goals. If the leaders within your organisation are across your short and long term objectives, they can use their skills to help you achieve them.

It promotes upward momentum

Distributed leadership creates an opportunity for talented and upcoming individuals to receive recognition for their hard work. As workers become more experienced, they naturally seek greater responsibility. This leadership model creates space for your top employees to move up in their careers.

It drives innovation

The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. Distributed leadership provides an opportunity for creative brainstorming and it takes advantage of collective thoughts to find change-making ideas and solutions.

How can you implement this style of leadership?

To successfully adopt a distributed leadership model, you must be willing to evolve. There will be inevitable changes to the way your organisation operates, and you’ll be required to trust and empower your skilled employees.

Trust is fundamental in distributed leadership, and you’ll be able to leverage leaders throughout your organisation if you can maintain it.

Can distributed leadership make you a better manager? If your organisation has a hunger for creativity, innovation and transparency; distributed leadership could be the turning point for you. It has the potential to establish a solid foundation for your business and can create a culture that fosters growth and development.

This leadership structure doesn’t intend to strip you of your power, but rather aims to build a strong leadership team with a pool of skills that can collectively benefit your business.