Plural Leadership, a Future Management Model for the Workplace?

Plural leadership is a theoretical proposal that points towards power structures that are less centered on individuals and more oriented towards groups.
Plural Leadership, a Future Management Model for the Workplace?

Last update: 22 August, 2021

Plural leadership is a concept that breaks with the traditional idea of what a leader is. In fact, it’s a far more complex management approach, as it involves more skills than those of conventional leadership. However, it’s believed to be the predominant way of leading in the near future.

It’s important to note that plural leadership is also a new way of understanding power. In fact, nowadays, there’s a real need to find ways to collectively build groups. Indeed, every day the old idea that individual figures must decide for others loses more of its validity.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success ”.

-Henry Ford-

Social and political changes happen at a much slower rate than individual changes. Nevertheless, there are many signs that today’s society is undergoing a great transformation. Part of this process has to do with the advancement of plural leadership, which will surely be consolidated in the coming years.

Plural leadership

Plural leadership can be trained in various ways

The essential idea of plural leadership is the fact that leadership isn’t represented by a single individual. Therefore, it requires a different way of both designing and achieving objectives. In fact, the role of leadership is shared.

This form of leadership also involves a more collective way of decision-making. Unlike conventional leadership, it assumes the presence of different ways of thinking and acting. Furthermore, it seeks the means for people to combine and act together.

Plural leadership isn’t one single approach that guides everything. In fact, it reconciles different perspectives on the same principle or issue.

Plural leadership is also far more transparent. Therefore, there’s no such thing as under-the-table arrangements or secrecy. In this way of leading, ultimately, the power is shared. However, mechanisms must be sought so that this actually occurs and it doesn’t remain just an intention.

Mechanisms of action

Plural leadership is plural in several ways. Firstly, there’s the exercise of the ruling power itself. The basic principle here is that the power to decide, act, or prevent others from acting, shouldn’t be given to any particular figure. On the contrary, what’s sought is a system of balance and counterbalance.

This means that the system must include decision-making bodies but at the same time control bodies, both of which are operated on a shared basis. This idea is the very essence of democracy. However, in practice, it doesn’t always succeed.

In practice, plural leadership is only successful if the leadership is sufficiently enabled to guide, yet limited enough to prevent a concentration of power.

For plural leadership to work, there must be, as central protagonists, people who are led by others. This is because the ultimate decision-making power rests with all members of the group, not just one.

From great individuals to intelligent structures

Plural leadership leads to success

In plural leadership, the most important thing is the structure of power, decision-making, and control. The leader is no longer someone with exceptional abilities or virtues. In fact, the aim is to achieve a synergy of talents.

However, some actions require more skills than others. Likewise, there are times that demand a certain kind of experience. However, the overriding objective is that the different leaderships are combined, depending on the activity, or action concerned. It’s the dynamics of reality that establish who should take the lead.

Obviously, any system requires coordination to function consistently. In this model, these instances are also collective and not individual. Therefore, teamwork is the predominant paradigm.

At this moment in time, plural leadership remains something of a theoretical concept. However, it’s clear that organizations and societies are gradually taking steps towards more horizontal and participatory forms of power. In fact, although the plural leadership model hasn’t yet come to full fruition, everything indicates that we’re heading towards it.

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