Knowledge work is becoming increasingly team-based. The reason is clear. It is becoming ever more difficult for any one person to be an expert on all aspects of the work that needs to be done, and this is true in a wide variety of contexts ranging from the R&D lab to the executive suite. With the shift to team-based knowledge work comes the need to question more traditional models of leadership. Traditionally, leadership has been conceived around the idea that one person is firmly "in charge" while the rest are simply followers - what is termed vertical leadership. However, recent research indicates that leadership can be shared by team leaders and team members - rotating to the person with the key knowledge, skills, and abilities for the particular issues facing the team at any given moment. In fact, research indicates that poor-performing teams tend to be dominated by the team leader, while high-performing teams display more dispersed leadership patterns, i.e., shared leadership.1 This is not to suggest that leadership from above is unnecessary. On the contrary, the role of the vertical leader is critical to the ongoing success of the shared-leadership approach to knowledge work. Thus, this article addresses the following questions: (1) when is leadership most appropriately shared? (2) how is shared leadership best developed? and (3) how does one effectively utilize both vertical and shared leadership to leverage the capabilities of knowledge workers?
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes