Distributed Leadership & Autonomous Motivation

Who told you : "you're not in charge" ?

ethicofcontribution2The realisation that organizations can only cope with the very unpredictable, changing and complex context they operate in, if the initiative, the creative thinking and the leadership in the organization is very much DISTRIBUTED and people behave as 'owners', and feel accountable for what happens in and with the organization as a whole.  That awareness has been developed from very different directions and in this Food for Thought item, we bring together a few of those directions and schools of thought that all go in that direction.

Paul Adler, Charles Hecksher & Laurance Prusak., (2011).  Building a Collaborative Enterprise.  Four Keys to creating a culture of trust and teamwork. Harvard Business Review, July-August 2011.

Marylène Gagné and Edward Deci. (2005) Self-Determination Theory and Work Motivation.  J. Organiz. Behav. 26, 331–362 (2005)

In essence they all are about developing contribution of all to a shared purpose, collaboration and learning from working together, enable people to act, develop autonomous motivation and intra-preneurship, etc...

Most of these schools of thinking also express the need not only for a shift in leadership and management roles towards a more process facilitation role of that collaboration.


The idea of distributed leadership goes beyond the classical idea of delegating responsibilities to team members, but introduces the ideas of an oranizational culture that allows people to take leadership in areas or at particular moments they feel that it is beneficial for the organization, they are well equiped to do it, they have the energy for it and others are willing to support them and collaborate to reach the expected results.  In that sence it is a very different view on leadership as the 'heroic type' of leadership which was advocated in past decades with a lot of focus on people like Steve Jobs.

The idea of distributed leadership goes well with the idea of autonomy of professionals as individuals but also as networks.  Autonomy only works if an organization is capable to build a strong 'social network' with shared ambitions, where people can fully contribute with their passion and skills and where they can learn from one another and in a jobcontext with ample room for initiative.

In these articles a few of those ideas are introduced : 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email