The Leadership Zoo: a metaphor for shared or collaborative leadership?

We had a great Leadership Conversation at WCVA (thank you @WalesCVA) this morning with some very important additional leadership behaviours, as exemplified by more animals:

Owl – reflective, thoughtful and considered in its approach which is a contribution all teams really need together with the self-awareness (also much needed in leaders) to move into increased action and be more of a tiger at times

Lion – but one who has had her teeth filed somewhat i.e. has learnt to respect the style and viewpoints of others and be much more about enabling others (rather than telling them what to do). Once again, self awareness is at the core of this.

Siamese cat – quietly observes and assimilates before leaping into action (it’s that important behaviour of listening again rather than wading straight in with a knee jerk response)

Mother moorhen – nurturing and encouraging the team (the chicks), caring about the team members themselves, leading by example, investing in helping them grow their independent skills, facilitating their growth and development (and I guess, also being able to let them go)

Once again, it’s highlighting the tapestry of different behaviours in leaders that can be woven together so that leadership is something that is shared rather than all about one person.

There really is something in this notion of “shared” or “collaborative” leadership, whereby the team members individually develop their skills and independence (as well as all having full “buy in” to the common vision, purpose and goals and each really understands their own role and contribution in achieving this). They then work together interdependently having conversations, listening to each other and combining their skills and insight in order to achieve goals that they could not have done on their own. As independent individuals and as a team they also ensure that they take time to reflect, to find ways to continuously improve and learn and also have time to relax and live their personal lives.

It seems like the Leadership Zoo may well be a useful metaphor that aligns with Stephen Covey’s “The 7 habits of highly effective people” which in itself spells out a model for shared or collaborative leadership, which can only work if the individuals involved have themselves grown their independent leadership skills and confidence and self-awareness.

So does this mean that individual leadership and skills is essential before collaborative or shared leadership can develop?

So who have you decided to nominate this year? A Leader in Wales who has developed their independent leadership skills and is able to work well interdependently  with other leaders to achieve even more than they could do on their own?

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