In April 2011, Experiential Adventures LLC was invited to facilitate a workshop for the Shared Leadership Program at Boise State University. Shared leadership empowers all individuals to step into the void and help lead an organization. Shared leadership does not eliminate the need for a strong individual leader; rather it encourages each of us to lead within our capacity to make improvements and to better our workplace.
Leadership voids are common in our workplaces, in our communities, in our churches and in our personal lives. Voids are especially common for those working in middle management. As middle managers, we are asked to follow and support our leaders/managers, as we try to lead/manage the employees that report to us.
Managing upward and managing downward creates the perfect opportunity for leadership voids to develop. Stepping into a leadership void is a conscious choice that does not always feel safe. The problem is once we recognize that a void exists, if we don’t step into it, we are abdicating our responsibility to the community.
Once we have stepped into a void to provide leadership and vision, we need to encourage others to step into any voids that still exist. No single leader can accomplish every goal. We are only human, and we make decisions that might leave a detail, a concept or a task left undone or unfinished. This is the void. Communities engaged in shared leadership use followership to reach quality outcomes, because each group member is willing to step into the leadership void when needed.
Interspersed with great conversation, we used Legos and a rubber chicken to discuss leaving safe harbor and stepping into a leadership void, and in the end had a wonderfully successful day.