Generating ideas, connections, and action

LLC at Alliance for Nonprofit Management Session: Shared Leadership

Deborah Meehan, Founder and Executive Director at the Leadership Learning Community, partnered with Dahnesh Medora, Director of Programs, TACS/Nonprofit Association of Oregon, and Judy Freiwirth, Psy.D., Principal, Nonprofit Solutions Associates for a session at this year's Alliance for Nonprofit Management Conference.  The session was focused on Shared Leadership: Why it Matters and How to Help Nonprofits Get There.  

The workshop took place on Friday, October 8th 2010 at 10:30 AM in St Louis.



Meeting Notes

Group I. Recommendations about how to get started with a shared leadership model.

  1. Identify "Why do this". What events or opportunity to enhance the work has brought the group here.
  2. Walk through power structure and discuss what that means
  3. Understanding what's currently in place: what is working and what needs to change for shared leadership to happen?
  4. Create buy in with the staff, board and stakeholders
  5. Provide training on shared leadership models.


  • Concern about who is the main point of contact
  • Slower decision making process
  • Is the staff ready and capable of shared leadership?
  • It involves changes much of the process


  • Everyone is engaged
  • Increased productivity, morale, buying
  • Encourages more input from external stakeholders
  • innovative thinking and different perspectives
  • Better staff transition and succession

Group II. What culture supports shared leadership?

Different levels

  • Organizational culture
  • Subgroup culture
  • External culture

What we say and do can be two different things. Culture is not always visible

Perception: External stakeholders have different views about shared leadership

Everyone has responsibility for the culture: Create the place you want to work. Ask the question: What do you want this to look like? (process, structures, values, etc.)

Sometimes capacity building will be needed to support shared leadership.


Group III: What structures do you need for shared leadership?

  • Communication: within a the group and to the board
  • Documentation: electronic. Be clear what repsonse you need, what info is required for a decision
  • Evaluation: 360 and board, report to different people
  • Roles/responsibilities: where are the boundaries, what is solo and what is collective? Is there something else?
  • Big picture checkin: who is the point person, know when you need meetings
  • Assessment: determine appropriateness, readiness
  • Alignment: align values and mission
  • Education:
  • Share data, e.g. case studies
  • Maintain mission focus
  • Cost benefit analysis