Togetherness at the Top. (Economics, Labor & Business)

Article excerpt

"When Two (or More) Heads Are Better than One: The Promise and Pitfalls of Shared Leadership" by James O' Toole, Jay Galbraith, and Edward E. Lawler Ill, in California Management Review (Summer 2002), Univ. of California, F501 Haas School of Business #1900, Berkeley, Calif. 94720-1900.

In the popular mind, and in Wall Street's, too, business leadership almost invariably comes in the form of a single dynamic individual--a Jack Welch or a Bill Gates. In reality, say the authors, shared leadership is common, and often more effective than the solo sort.

Running a large corporation these days frequently calls for more skills than any one person is likely to have, observe O'Toole, Galbraith, and Lawler, researchers at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California. Since World War II, the trend "has been away from concentration of power in one person." This is reflected in-and also obscured by-the profusion of titles that have appeared at top corporate levels: chairman, chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO), and the like. Sometimes, the joint leadership is undisguised. The Amana Corporation, with business units in areas as different as farming and tourist services, divided leadership along industry lines among four coequals in 1995, and only then began to make steady profits. …