Collective Leadership: A Comprehensive Definition

The silhouette of four people standing on top of a hill

How many people do you know seem caught in a cycle of getting up, going to work, putting in eight hours, coming home, and then starting from the beginning again? Depending on where we are in our careers and personal life journeys, it can be easy to find yourself “going through the motions” when dealing with the day to day.

This calls into question the idea of collective leadership. The problem that arises with the above mindset is this: If you’re doing a dance to push through to the end of the day, how are you actively contributing to the success of your organization?

Today, we will be exploring the idea of collective leadership in the workplace: what it means, what it looks like in practice, and some ideas for inspiring yourself and others within your own office.

Collective Leadership at Work

When we talk about collective leadership and how it relates to a business (and further, to a team), we mean that everyone is coming in each day to actively achieve the goals of the company. Every person comes together to share their unique knowledge and skills in order to add value for the workplace as a whole.

Collective Leadership: Breaking it Down

This concept may come off as a bit abstract in nature, but it really comes down to loyalty, passion, and accountability.

Loyalty in this case means supporting your team members through the ups and downs that come along with having a job. You’re there to help when they need it, and you know that they will be there for you, as well.

For passion’s sake, it’s important to have a drive and sense of purpose when you go to work. What will keep you going when you feel like you would rather give up? What is it about what you do that makes you (and those around you) successful? Understanding your why and the organization’s why and how they intersect gives added meaning to your work.

Finally, it all comes down to accountability. How are you actively meeting goals, both the ones you set for yourself and the goals of the company? What have you been entrusted with and what steps do you take to make sure that trust isn’t misplaced?

Overall, when goals are met and the company is doing well, the group is recognized for their successes. When times are tough, there is a strong support network that allows everyone to continue forward.

Creating a Culture of Collective Leadership

When thinking about the idea of culture and shifting the culture of a workplace, so often people look to upper management to make the change. While a supervisor can certainly set the tone for a company, all employees have to be on-board and take an active role in making this change happen.

This could include open dialogues about where a boss and each employee would like to see the company headed. There could be discussions about where leadership comes from and how every person will take on an active leadership role (including leadership of themselves). For more ideas, ICMA has an excellent article about leadership practices.

The bottom line is that communication can open the door to a happier and healthier workplace. When people feel invested in their work through the creation of individual and business goals, they will feel invigorated and seen by their fellow employees. They’ll have a personal stake in the business, which can be extremely compelling in the long run.

In Summary

The culture of the workplace you’re at can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. No matter your career, it is possible to create an environment that is positive and healthy for everyone who works there.

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle with work? Do you feel like your workplace could use some help building a collective leadership culture and mindset? With plenty of experience working in healthcare and seeing these types of environments firsthand, I can implement some key ways to set your team up for success. Get in touch to schedule a meeting.