What is Distributed Leadership?

Jyotshana Rani

12th Jan'21
What is Distributed Leadership? | OpenGrowth

Leadership is defined as the ability of an individual or a group to influence and guide other members of the organisations. We often see an individual with experience leading a group, but this scenario is changing now.

Life is a learning phase, and every day we learn something new, which helps us to get better. With this evolution, we have learned several skills, and leadership is one such skill. It is a kind of default setting in our thinking that people with experience make a good leader. I have come across many younger leaders who are doing great jobs, and some of them are even better than the experienced ones.

So, how do you give chances to those younger and less experienced ones? Here comes the distributed leadership.


Must-read: Collaborative Leadership: The Future of Leadership Development


Distributed leadership

It is a concept in which leadership responsibility is distributed throughout the organisation rather than giving it to an individual. It helps an organisation in generating more opportunities for change and build the capacity for improvement.

Distributed leadership is sometimes also known as delegated or shared leadership. It gives a chance to share leadership responsibilities and accountability with the people who have relevant skills and expertise.

Other than organisations, schools use distributed leadership models to focus on developing many learning-centered leaders to improve the quality of teaching, learning, and pupil outcomes. 


It is based on three key ideas:

  1. The belief in leadership teams where belief in the power of one gives way to belief in the power of everyone
  2. As schools are becoming a more complex place to manage and lead, demands for leaders is increasing
  3. It helps in shaping tomorrow's leaders by giving a chance to everyone and helps in creating pools of talent 

Learn more about Distributed leadership.

What is Distributed Leadership?
Source: Semantic Scholar

Benefits of distributed leadership

With the right people in place, you create room for development for every person at your organisation. Below mentioned are some points reflecting on the benefits of distributed leadership in your organisation.


1. It gives more opportunity

Nobody has got all the talents in the world. One person is good at one work while the other can be at some other work. So, when you divide responsibilities into numerous people, you get multiple minds to work on one thing and then come up with the best ideas for the organization's growth.

Also, when you give charge to one person for taking the company’s decisions, there are chances that your team will lose their focus in their absence. Distributed leadership provides authority to more people to make important decisions, and you don’t have to wait for a sole decision-maker.


2. It allows people to take ownership of their works

By giving decision-making power to every individual, you give them a sense of freedom which allows them to take responsibility for their work. And it's a human tendency when they are solely responsible for their work, they use their full creativity and experience to complete that work.

Along with that, it encourages more productivity and creates greater commitment levels, which leads to a long-term increase in employee performance.


3. Provides upward movement opportunities

When you give authority to one person, you stop others to showcase their talents. By doing so, you are not giving a chance to earn a promotion or some kind of upward movement. And nobody wants to stay in the same position for a long time period and be happy with the same pay and benefits as a result you lose that talent.

Learn more benefits of distributed leadership.
What is Distributed Leadership?

Source: Knight Sites

Ways to Implement Distributive Leadership

Distributing responsibilities throughout the organisation, both physically and psychologically, relieves a load of duties handled only by one individual. Also, it provides leadership developments for those who are in the learning phase.

After learning the benefits, you must be thinking of applying distributive leadership in your organisation.


Here are the ways of implementing it:

1. Rotate leadership responsibilities

As mentioned earlier, in distributive leadership, you give everyone a chance to set agendas and take responsibilities. From arranging a meeting to setting up budgets for various departments, taking ownership is an important skill to have.

2. Hire well

Every individual is important for a team, so when you are planning to expand your team, do not shortcut the hiring process. Try to involve everyone in this process, because by doing so, you ensure that the new hire has the same level of commitment and goals you are trying to encompass.

3. Avoid micromanaging

Everyone is equally important to run a business smoothly. So, why not trust them when it comes to decision-making responsibilities? You must give them freedom of doing their job according to themselves. Always remember, they are best at the job they are doing.

4. Address their achievements

When you praise and recognise everyone’s work publicly, it pushes them to do better. So, celebrate their achievements, big or small. 


Do not miss: Empathy: Future of Leadership


Distributed Leadership in Schools

We have learned the benefits and importance of distributive leadership in business. But, are you aware of the benefits of distributed leadership in schools? By implementing it in schools, principals help their colleagues in boosting self-confidence and give them the power to make decisions which will work in favour of students as well as the school. Get to know more about distributed leadership in schools.


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Jyotsana is very keen to express her views on new topics and wants readers to remember her through her writing. She is passionate about reading and believes that words wield the power of changing the scenario and she uses them to encourage people to the best of her knowledge.