About two years ago, Eva-Maria Danzer and Barbara Wietasch exchanged their experiences on leadership and transformation. This led to the development of the Shared LeaderShift model. The approach to leverage the transformation of organizations through shared leadership. Just as the first practical tests were about to start, the pandemic entered the scene. So Shared LeaderShift had to rest for a while to prove itself in practice. But now we are starting with it: Shared LeaderShift in experiment.

Shared LeaderShift Deep Dive

First, let’s take a look at the model. What exactly distinguishes Shared LeaderShift? The idea behind this approach is to divide leadership among several shoulders and then provide it in cooperation. Unlike already familiar models such as job sharing, the idea is not that several, usually two, people share one leadership role. Rather, there are several leadership roles, each of which is performed by different people.

Shared LeaderShift is based on four different roles: the actual leadership is shared by three roles – the People & Culture Lead, the Team & Performance Lead and the Customer & Value Lead. They work together in the day-to-day business and deliver leadership performance together and at eye level.
These three roles are supplemented by the Purpose & Strategy Lead, which, following the model, is not performed by one person but by a team across the organization.
Here you can find a video showing how these roles work together in the company.

Shared leadership is on the rise

The model developed by Barbara and Eva has in theory already proven its future potential. For some time now, they have been popping up everywhere on shared leadership models. Currently still increasingly at home in job sharing. However, now also increasingly – coming from the agile world and from Scrum – in approaches with actually shared leadership roles. Especially in the IT environment, the People & Culture Lead has already established itself as an independent role. Examples can be found in this podcast, in which  People & Culture Lead reports on her role, and in the current video from bonprix, part of the Otto Group.

What makes Shared LeaderShift unique

However, Shared LeaderShift (SLS) goes well beyond the approaches mentioned here. Two areas in particular should be highlighted:
The role of the Customer & Value Lead, which gives the customer a permanent place in the daily business of leadership and thus expands leadership to include the external perspective. I.e., every mini-leadership team is already cross-functional as well
The interface of collaboratively and equally provided shared leadership to the corporate culture (and here then also the Purpose & Strategy Lead).
The SLS model is based on collaboration and cooperation as core values. Every decision in the leadership team is discussed and found together. This not only creates harmony in external perception, it also provides a role model for self-organization and decision-making.

Shared LeaderShift in experiment

Sounds innovative and inspiring. It seems conclusive in principle. However, it also raises questions such as:
– Doesn’t this approach require a lot more resources, i.e. don’t we have then three FTEs in management instead of one?
– Doesn’t this create chaos? Whom are the employees supposed to address then?
– Isn’t it incredibly time-consuming to make all decisions together in the management team?
– What conditions must be met for this to work at all? Are managers capable of this kind of leadership?

We think these are justified questions that can only be answered by testing them in practice.

And that is why we have now set out with Shared LeaderShift as an experiment at The Company Journey Guides.
Over a period of 6-9 months, we will practice SLS in our team.
Since August, we have taken the three roles in operational leadership and are currently adjusting to it.
As the consulting approach of Shared LeaderShift suggests, the work in the leadership team is done under guidance or supervision.
We will share our experiences from time to time in further TCJG Cases and finally evaluate them.
The initiators of SLS, Eva-Maria Danzer and Barbara Wietasch, will make their findings available in a further white paper on Shared LeaderShift.


More on the topic also in this TCJG blog: From Leadership to Leader Shift



Learning leadership – is that possible? Do we need it? Does it still fit in with the times? Does it make sense?

Let’s assume so, how could it look like then?

Surely the times of standardized management curricula lasting several weeks are over. Regardless of whether they are conducted in St. Gallen, at the Hernstein Institute or in in-house qualification programs. The requirements and expectations of customers have changed. Learning is different today and so is networking.

The fact that it works differently and is successful from the customer’s “executive” perspective is shown by the feedback of a pilot group of a customer’s holistically designed leadership and management development program. This group recently completed their two-year Learning Journey with a graduation. And what the participants reported in the retrospective suggests that they obviously did a lot right.

An impressive retrospective

The participants of the pilot group were simply fantastic in their ability to create a retrospective of their learning journey as individuals and as a group.

They expressed the digital competence they had developed in the meantime by making a film. Not only did the film highlight the various stages of the learner and Learning Journey, but the participants’ employees and superiors were also asked to show up in front of the camera to present their view of the impact of the qualification on the participants and their own organisation. By the way, no script had been written. Rather, this work was created in a creative collaboration in several iterations. An example of how the learning content on the topic of “new work” and “agile formats” came to life.

Afterwards, they arranged all participants in a “circle”, brought a (self-made) ball into play and let everyone have their say: The participants of the pilot group as well as the coaches and program managers and guests who had come to hear the learnings. Three questions provided the structure. The participants set the framework, initiated the process and then handed it over to self-organisation. This unit was prepared in peer groups and then collaboratively brought into the entire learning group without external facilitator. They already have the methodological and the social competence to turn those affected into participants.

Encouraging feedback

The feedback from the film and the following circle was inspiring and touching in many ways. In an unusual depth, people spoke openly about their own development. Many thanks were expressed for the many experiences and the lessons learned. There was talk of experienced and practiced appreciation. Acknowledgement of the progress made in building up competence in oneself and in others could be heard. The positive experience of cooperation and mutual support was especially emphasized. Examples of the sustainable effectiveness of qualification content in everyday life were mentioned. The weekly conference call set up in a peer group during the qualification trip was independently agreed upon as a regular call also beyond the qualification. This gave collegial consultation a space for sustainability. Learning in this new form received a certificate. This was combined with the request not to change anything, because learning makes sense and is effective in this way.

Learning leadership newly defined

How is this format designed to achieve such results and feedback from experienced managers?

On the one hand, it consistently follows the 70:20:10 approach, i.e. 70% of the qualification takes place at the workplace and by means of direct reference to the daily work routine. Here, virtual learning nuggets can also be consumed, which can be added to your own playlist according to individual needs. 20% of learning takes place in the community. Both in fixed peer groups and in the entire learning group. Routed via an exchange platform and supported by (video) calls. And 10% of the development takes place in face-to-face workshops. Particularly when the topics of person and behaviour are involved.

A transfer of the learning content into practice is consistently ensured with transfer tasks for the individual learner and in the virtual learner community. Often the learner’s work assignments also refer to their team or working environment. Here, primarily the long-term practical projects are to be seen. They demonstrate the business impact of the program and enable the development of competencies in (agile) project management.

Not to forget the highlight. Each participant is personally accompanied by a (virtual) coach. With this coach, individual concerns can be addressed. He/she also ensures that the participant always keeps the overview and direction in his/her largely self-organized learning journey.

Each participant has access to a comprehensive Wiki with in-depth content. Regular blogs help to ensure that the program always offers up-to-date content.

Learning leadership here means learning and iterating on the job. This starts with self-management, which is necessary for the program to come alive. After all, time for learning and development must be allowed by the participants themselves. This continues with the reflection on leadership in everyday work and the examination of the roles of “Manager & Leader” and their interaction. Leadership is also looked at from the future. This is where topics such as purpose, culture and new work come into play as well as new roles as change manager or enabler.

Then, there we are already talking about a Leader-Shift.

Redesigning leadership development.

That´s something we are good at.

Leadership suffering? A recent coaching case with an experienced executive motivated us to present this case. Suffering is a term that has been coined by this coachee. The more intensively he got into working with himself, the more this topic gained in depth. For him. And probably not only for him.

How contemporary is “suffering”?

Suffering and leadership – is it at all opportune to use such a term today? A double yes is the answer.
On the one hand, it speaks for the fact that Goethe already showed us in “The Sorrows of Young Werther”, that the one who loves, suffers in the end. To associate leadership with love is a beautiful and thoroughly contemporary thought.
On the other hand, after many years under the primacy of “positive thinking” and the consequent reinterpretation of every attitude and statement into a “respectful formulation”, we are slowly allowing ourselves to name limiting thoughts and feelings again. This can be interpreted as a contribution to authenticity and to being human. And then there is a place for suffering. Above all, for those who come from a socialization where tolerating, accepting and bearing were still among the common virtues. And there are of course quite a few of them.

Managers are human

How could it happen that the coachee, trained at the best leadership schools in the world according to the latest leadership theories, came into contact with his own suffering? He probably does not belong to the category of ignorant managers, who are only able to see themselves, immune to change and not interested in their environment at all. It’s rather the opposite, he loves his job, taking people along, inspiring and at the same challenging and encouraging them.

Suffering slowly crept in over the years. At first rather unnoticed, which was also owed to the ideas of “positive thinking”. Then repressed and negated, probably due to personal socialization. At some point, sadness could no longer be repressed because one’s own values and self-efficacy were no longer sufficiently expressed. And the rage about how he was trapped in a role, again and again trying to adapt in all possible directions.

The employee satisfaction survey came along, where several requirement hat to be satisfied. Therefore, it was always better to be friendly, to never criticize or demand too much of anyone. It is best to practice indifference and distance. On the other hand, there was the pressure in terms of the numbers that had to be proven. If necessary, why not invest yet another night shift. Not to forget the employees, who felt that they received too little attention, but were increasingly quick to express their frustration loudly and quite often without the self-imposed appreciation. Personal needs were overlooked and had to be held back – social contacts, culture or simply fun in life became increasingly rare. Just ticking things of, ticking, ticking, ticking. And at some point, it didn’t work any longer, even with the negation, and he became aware of his “suffering”.

Is suffering really necessary?

It was obvious to take up this question in a suitable coaching context. And that like a sting into a wasp’s nest. No, of course not, the mind will say. Yes, the heart will respond, of course. It’s all about something. About one’s own values. Reliability, responsibility, love for the tasks and the people around him. Caring about the success of the company, the team and the individual. Self-efficacy and pride.
The basic assumption: Perseverance, tolerance and acceptance are the toll. The belief: If I only exert myself enough, I can manage it in the end. With the two of them pretty much inevitably leading to “suffering”. The head understood that, too.

From suffering to meaning

The recognition of what had worked so far over all the years while deforming the personality without even being perceived was a like a (healing) shock. And the trigger for one’s own transformation. At the beginning, there was the confrontation with the “suffering of leadership”, its roots and reasons in the here and now. At this point, the coachee found the methods of mindfulness and focused attention particularly helpful. Through this way he was able to find a better access towards himself again. Some everyday situations were reassessed and will certainly be dealt with differently in the future.

However, the found working on his own purpose to be particularly effective. He focused on his individual WHY (Simon Sinek) within his role. He named the meaning of his actions for the first time and subsequently redefined leadership for himself. For himself and in his team, he now relies heavily on self-management. He consistently hands over responsibility to his team. One example that has helped him a lot was working with the “Delegations Poker” of Management 3.0. The exciting effect is that he now has noticeably more time for himself, and without any additional effort of his own a significantly higher satisfaction among the people in his team.

In any case, the suffering has found an end and is now replaced by what one calls the “Purpose of Leadership”.