Developing Distributed Leadership (DL) for Social Change

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(1) Distinct Co-operative Governance Challenges, (2) Distributed Leadership (DL), Self-awareness, Servant Leadership, and Safe Learning Spaces, (3) Empowerment for Service, Democracy, and Value-based Management, (4) Accountability for Strategic Leadership Processes: “Leading is a function, not a status.”

Distinct Co-operative Governance Challenges

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Co-operatives that are run according to cooperative principles, face distinct challenges compared to governments or for-profit organizations. About 90 percent of contemporary leadership research is not directly relevant for the NGO context. [1]. Furthermore, the available approaches to co-operative leadership need to be tailored according to organizational structure and maturity, economic sector, and membership size [2].

In a time of mystification and celebration of top-down leadership [3], capitalist shareholder dominance, and the absence of teaching foundations of cooperative democratic principles in schools, NGOs and Co-ops nevertheless continue to prioritize cooperation, especially by democratic and participatory principles that foster the inclusive membership’s well-being beyond pure business goals (Pinto, 2011). The cooperative governance model developed over decades by the CDS Consulting Co-op [29] has proven to provide leadership guidance to meet these unique needs by structuring governance elements into the four pillars of (1) teaming, (2) accountable empowerment, (3) democracy, and (4) strategic leadership. The following selected possible leadership program aspects are recommended to address the governance challenges of early-stage, still small cooperative organizations with a diverse and growing volunteering membership base.

Distributed Leadership (DL), Self-awareness, Servant Leadership, and Safe Learning Spaces

Protagonist leaders not sharing appropriately information are roadblocks to the active participation of co-leaders (e.g., other board members) and other members as everyone is supposed to participate in the democratic process [29]. Mutually owned solution development involving all stakeholders (i.e., diverse member categories and other stakeholders in a multi-stakeholder cooperative) cultivate creativity [28]. The risk of stakeholders pursuing their individual career goals at the cost of enhanced social networks and shared knowledge has to be prevented [16]. Cooperative enterprises require concerted collective action [17]. Such a collective capacity [1] is necessary to sustainably pool resources and know-how and can be addressed by the distributed leadership (DL) paradigm [18]. Co-ops may foresee to offer leadership education that is addressing the dimensions of DL, which are “bounded empowerment, developing leadership, shared decision and collective engagement” ([19], p. 693).

A higher self-awareness may be needed for individuals to make sense of the broader cooperative perspective [20]. DL suggests a culture of intensified inquiry among individuals [21] that can be positively influenced by increased self-efficacy, job satisfaction, and creative behavior among the members. A co-op can consider administering the validated DL instrument as the basis for its leadership development [22]. Especially at early stages of forming an organization, group coaching as proposed by Fusco, O’Riordan, and Palmer (2015) [23] to develop authentic self-leadership within the team can be an appropriate activity as well. Servant leadership characteristics showed global validity and could inform the coaching approach and the creation of safe learning spaces for experimentation [20], which can be of high value especially in multi-cultural and human-oriented communities [24].

Empowerment for Service, Democracy, and Value-based Management

It was a misbelief that paid Board members would remain solidary to volunteer work [4]. Rather, a study with students found that independent commitment to service provides for meaningful learning experiences and collaborative capacity building [5]. Democracy offers a meaningful collective leadership approach [6] that can enhance innovative behavior and commitment among the members who have the possibility for representation in the governance of the organization [7].

The members need to be offered the potential for own socio-economic success as a result from collective operation [8], best based on a stakeholder analysis allowing for alignment of different members’ incentives [9]. Engagement comes from understanding the purpose, vision, and values of the organization [10]. Indeed, value-based management helps to create a shared sense of belonging to all stakeholders [11], which is vital team-building success. More specifically, a formal value statement can help keeping up values required for shared leadership development. A clear positioning against external competition might eliminate internal competition [12], which can be achieved by training [13]. Another proposition is journaling to analyze how members experience their service contributions, a measure that has been able to confirmed the joy of service [14].

Accountability for Strategic Leadership Processes: “Leading is a function, not a status.”

Every minute of volunteering should be appreciated, and different levels of engagement between and within members over time accepted. Therefore, rather than defining and assigning roles and responsibilities to which it could be challenging to adhere to, accountability should be promoted. That way leaders can freely emerge without conflicts with non-matching role descriptions [2]. As Cannell (2018) [15] puts it aptly, “leading is a function, not a status.” Any, and especially also young members should be encouraged to self-nominate for leadership and management roles [16]. Technology can support strategy processes, planning, budgeting, member and associate management, as well as communication and media [25]. The Social Change Model of Leadership offers a framework on which leadership development programs could be built on to facilitate value-based collaborative group processes for social change [26] and the encouragement of new leaders [27].

References

[1] Dragoș – Cătălin, A. (2013). Non-Governmental Organization Leadership And Development. A Review Of The Literature. Manager, Vol 17, Iss 1, Pp 145-161 (2013), (1), 145.

[2] Whittle, K. (2018). Who’s afraid of leadership? Key lessons for co-op leaders. Retrieved from https://www.thenews.coop/125400/topic/business/whos-afraid-leadership-key-lessons-co-op-leaders/

[3] Bennis, W. (1999). The End of Leadership: Exemplary Leadership Is Impossible Without Full Inclusion, Initiatives, and Cooperation of Followers. Organizational Dynamics, 28(1), 71-79.

[4] Pinto (2011). Leadership, capacity building and governability in cooperatives. Swedish Cooperative Centre. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/social/meetings/egm11/documents/Costa%20Pinto-Leadership,%20capacity%20building.pdf

[5] Dooley, J., & Shellog, K. (2016). Social change model of leadership development: A 20-year legacy and future considerations. Campus Activities Programming, 49(5), 20-25.

[6] Smolović Jones, S. )., Smolović Jones, O. )., Winchester, N. )., & Grint, K. ). (2016). Putting the discourse to work: On outlining a praxis of democratic leadership development. Management Learning, 47(4), 424-442. doi:10.1177/1350507616631926

[7] Rustin, M., & Armstrong, D. (2012). What happened to democratic leadership?. Soundings (13626620), (50), 59-71.

[8] Kuria, N. C. (2012). Harnessing the co-operative advantage to build a better world. United Nations Expert Group Meeting and Forum. Retrieved from https://social.un.org/coopsyear/documents/KuriaCooperativeLeadershipandGovernanceAddisAbaba.pdf

[9] Wilson, N. A., Ranawat, A., Nunley, R., & Bozic, K. J. (2009). Executive summary: aligning stakeholder incentives in orthopaedics. Clinical Orthopaedics And Related Research, 467(10), 2521-2524. doi:10.1007/s11999-009-0909-4

[10] Smith, C. (2015). Exemplary leadership: How style and culture predict organizational outcomes. Nursing Management, 46(3), 47-51. doi:10.1097/01.NUMA.0000456659.17651.c0

[11] Current state of research into co-operative management. Context, and future vision (2009). University of Leicester. Retrieved from www.pellervo.fi/pp/110esitykset/current_state_davis.ppt

[12] Maner, J. K., & Mead, N. L. (2010). The essential tension between leadership and power: When leaders sacrifice group goals for the sake of self-interest. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology99(3), 482-497.

[13] Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). Shining a Light on Leadership. Educational Leadership, 74(8), 91-92.

[14] Buschlen, E. L., & Reusch, J. (2016). The Assessment of Service Through the Lens of Social Change Leadership: A Phenomenological Approach. Journal Of College And Character, 17(2), 82.

[15] Cannell, B. (2018). Co-operative leadership: How should it work in practice? Retrieved from https://www.thenews.coop/125421/topic/business/co-operative-leadership-work-practice/

[16] Espedal, B., Gooderham, P. N., & Stensaker, I. G. (2013). Developing Organizational Social Capital or Prima Donnas in MNEs? The Role of Global Leadership Development Programs. Human Resource Management, 52(4), 607-625. doi:10.1002/hrm.21544

[17] Di Ruggiero, E., Kishchuk, N., Viehbeck, S., Edwards, N., Robinson, K., Riley, B., & Fowler, H. S. (2017). Alliance members’ roles in collective field-building: an assessment of leadership and championship within the Population Health Intervention Research Initiative for Canada. Health Research Policy & Systems, 151-11. doi:10.1186/s12961-017-0265-x

[18] Hristov, D. (2017). Distributed leadership : lessons from destination management organisations.

[19] Hairon, S., & Goh, J. P. (2015). Pursuing the Elusive Construct of Distributed Leadership: Is the Search Over?. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 43(5), 693-718.

[20] Creating a learning environment for transformation: A case study of a course in sustainability leadership. (2013). Leading Transformative Higher Education Olomouc: Palacký University.

[21] Sloan, T. (2013). Distributed Leadership and Organizational Change: Implementation of a Teaching Performance Measure. New Educator, 9(1), 29-53.

[22] Jønsson, T., Unterrainer, C., Jeppesen, H., & Jain, A. K. (2016). Measuring distributed leadership agency in a hospital context. Journal Of Health Organization & Management, 30(6), 908-926. doi:10.1108/JHOM-05-2015-0068

[23] Fusco, T., O’Riordan, S., & Palmer, S. (2015). Authentic Leaders are… Conscious, Competent, Confident, and Congruent: A Grounded Theory of Group Coaching and Authentic Leadership Development. International Coaching Psychology Review, 10(2), 131-148.

[24] Hirschy, M. J., Gomez, D., Patterson, K., & Winston, B. E. (2014). SERVANT LEADERSHIP, HUMANE ORIENTATION, AND CONFUCIAN DOCTRINE OF JEN. Academy Of Strategic Management Journal, 13(1), 97-111.

[25] Sinclair, I., & Matlala, M. (2011). The use of technology and leadership in enhancing strategic cooperative policing within the SADC region. International Journal Of African Renaissance Studies, 6(1), 47. doi:10.1080/18186874.2011.592391

[26] Iachini, A. L., Cross, T. P., & Freedman, D. A. (2015). Leadership in Social Work Education and the Social Change Model of Leadership. Social Work Education, 34(6), 650-665. doi:10.1080/02615479.2015.1025738

[27] French, A. (2017). Toward a New Conceptual Model: Integrating the Social Change Model of Leadership Development and Tinto’s Model of Student Persistence. Journal Of Leadership Education, 16(3), 97-117.

[28] Broussine, M., & Miller, C. (2005). Leadership, Ethical Dilemmas and ‘Good’ Authority in Public Service Partnership Working. Business Ethics: A European Review, 14(4), 379-391.

[29] Cooperative Governance – 4 Pillars Cooperative Governance (n.d.). Retrieved from  http://www.cdsconsulting.coop/cooperative_governance/4pcg/

About mathias sager

Independent researcher, artist, social entrepreneur, and leadership and strategy advisor I was born in Zurich in 1975 and grew up in Switzerland. Currently, I’m living in Tokyo. I love open-minded people everywhere and the passion to working relentlessly for developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all his work. I have extensive experience in leadership and management, organizational psychology research, and learning & development practice. I have worked as a teacher, a leadership trainer, as well as a senior manager responsible for client relationships, counseling, and virtual teams around the world. Also, I’m a social entrepreneur and serving as a strategy and leadership advisor in different ways. My goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for the people’s individual well-being and common good alike. Continuously learning himself and keen to help, I appreciate any questions or feedback you may have at any time. Please connect here on any social media, as well as per direct email goodthings@mathias-sager.com.
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3 Responses to Developing Distributed Leadership (DL) for Social Change

  1. Reblogging this to my sister site Success Inspirers World

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