The advantages and disadvantages of different implementations of shared leadership in organizations: A qualitative study

Charlotte M. Edelmann*, Filip Boen, Gert Vande Broek, Katrien Fransen, Jeroen Stouten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


The leadership literature has mainly considered shared leadership as a unified concept, overlooking the fact that it comes in many forms. However, the shift to shared leadership may not always yield favorable outcomes (Mumford et al., 2012). Knowing the benefits and challenges of different shared leadership implementations is crucial as it can either strengthen or undermine the overall effectiveness of shared leadership. To gain insights into the perceived (dis)advantages associated with different implementations of shared leadership, 35 qualitative interviews were conducted with employees across diverse organizational contexts. Participants were prompted to envision different shared leadership formats and to evaluate these hypothetical formats by articulating their potential (dis)advantages: (1) formally appointing peer leaders versus informal leadership (providing insights on the role of jealousy experienced by the formal leader and the ideal selection method of peer leaders); (2) having one peer leader versus several peer leaders take on leadership; and (3) having one versus multiple peer leaders for a leadership role. A thematic analysis revealed several benefits and challenges of each implementation, providing a more balanced view of this leadership model. Based on these findings, we formulate four suggestions to address potential challenges of implementing shared leadership; (1) to involve the formal leader in all stages of implementation, (2) to adopt a transparent selection process for peer leaders, (3) to provide clear role definitions for role clarity, and (4) to have leadership (roles) fulfilled by multiple peer leaders to reduce reliance on a single leader.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-507
Number of pages41
Issue number6
Early online date8 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research, authorship, and publication of this article was financially supported by a grant from Internal Funds KU Leuven.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

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