the power of co-leading

Pinelake July 2015Co-leading seems to go against the culture of the individualist strain of celebrity CEO’s and the myths that surround them, however, in reality none of us do anything alone. We need the help of others, we need their partnership to accomplish so much more that we can alone.

I have had the privilege of co-leading with a colleague who has now become a good friend. Where we worked, it is called a dyad – two working as one. We are as different as we can be and that was a good thing! He is East Coast, I am Southern; I like strategizing and planning, he acts and gets things done quickly; sometimes details are not that important to me, he masters details; I am more introverted and intuitive and he is extroverted and likes dealing with facts. We balanced each other well, got more done together than we could have individually, and best of all forged a new friendship.

The article “How to Co-Lead a Team” on the Harvard Business Review site deals with this subject well. below is an excerpt, its worth your time to read the entire article if you are interested in becoming more effective as a leader.

“We don’t lead alone. We lead with others. The days of the ‘Great Man’ theory of Leadership – where one sole leader rules over the masses from their ivory tower, are long gone.

Some of us quite literally lead with another person – we co-lead a project, a team, or an organization with a peer. A study by Pearce and Sims (2002), published in Group Dynamics, found that shared leadership is a useful predictor of team effectiveness. Other research suggests shared leadership can also lead to greater team interaction, increased collaboration and coordination, as well as novel and more innovative solutions. But while co-leadership can be energizing and rewarding, if the relationship isn’t strong, the arrangement can easily become draining and frustrating.”

Check it out – it is worth your time in my opinion.


Dyad Leadership – What Is It?

It is COLD here in northeastern Indiana!! As I am writing this, the wind chill is a minus 2 degrees! That is cold for a Southern boy.

Snow in Niles, MI on Tuesday
Snow in Niles, MI on Tuesday


Dyad – do you know what the word means? I had never even heard the word until a few years ago when I was introduced to it by some friends. The word has several meaning depending on context, but for our purposes we will use the meaning of “two operating as one”. More specifically, it is about two people of complementary personalities, giftings and skill sets serving in the same position.

For example, the organization where I now serve the dyad concept is used extensively and very successfully. For example the CEO’s office is made up a CEO and a CEA (Chief Executive Administrator) and the COO’s office is made up of a COO and a COA. In both case, the combination of complementary personalities and skill sets have made each “office” much more effective than if just one of the individuals filled each role.

There are several things going on that make this leadership model so attractive. First is simply the fact that we are imperfect beings. We fall short in many areas, we have weaknesses (lots of them!), we have blind spots, and there are simply so many skills that are needed to lead well that no one person has them all. We need each other!

Secondly, the world is incredibly dynamic now with ever increasing complexity and leadership requirements are so high that the “heroic CEO” model of leadership is not nearly as effective as it once was. In many cases, the job is simply too large for one individual. Click here to read a Harvard Business Review blog post on the subject.

The concept does make plain sense. Two people working together and leaning on each others strengths is obviously better than one struggling to do it alone. However there are a couple of problems. First is that refrain you often hear – “we’ve never done it that way”. It causes us to have to learn new ways of operating and, quite frankly, change is hard and no fun. Secondly, and this is the big one, is our pride. We want to the “the one”, we want to be the hero and we certainly don’t want to admit that we can’t do it all!

I have seen it work and I am experiencing it working. I now work in a dyad relationship. Sure, sometimes it’s frustrating, especially when the areas where we “complement” each other produces a little friction, but is has been so good and so healthy and has made both of us better.

The dyad model of leadership is powerful and worth you checking out.