Is shared leadership the key to responsible leadership?

Craig L. Pearce, Christina L. Wassenaar, Charles C. Manz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This article is about responsible leadership and how shared leadership processes can potentially support it. In particular, an emerging literature on the topic of responsible leadership offers promise to refine and move our thinking forward in an integrative way that bridges what we know about corporate social responsibility and leadership. In this article we first define shared leadership and how it is linked to the notion of responsible leadership. We elaborate on the risk of irresponsibility in leadership, which can result from a purely hierarchically based and centrally concentrated influence that does not allow for the natural balance fostered by shared leadership processes, and illustrate this risk through a brief description of irresponsible leadership practices observed in Nigeria by the first two authors. Subsequently, we clarify specific actions that hierarchical leaders can take to facilitate the ongoing development of shared responsible leadership and avoid irresponsible leadership, provide multiple examples of shared responsible leadership based on recent ethnographic research on shared leadership, and offer some concluding thoughts to shape future research and practice regarding responsible leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-288
Number of pages14
JournalAcademy of Management Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Is shared leadership the key to responsible leadership?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this