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The Truth about Shared Leadership

Elizabeth, my daughter, and I never declared a “captain” on Revival, a 42′ sloop, we navigated alone for over 5 months covering 2000 miles from Pensacola, Florida to St. Martin. Sometimes we wished we had. There was conflict – more than we had ever had in our relationship. The slam of a cabin door in a small space is a harsh sound.

Elizabeth, my daughter, and I never declared a “captain” on Revival, a 42′ sloop, we navigated alone for over 5 months covering 2000 miles from Pensacola, Florida to St. Martin. Sometimes we wished we had. There was conflict – more than we had ever had in our relationship. The slam of a cabin door in a small space is a harsh sound.

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We didn’t have super-sailing skills for this adventure; the learning curve was steep. I figured I could call rank at any time (because I’m the mother), but I didn’t. Long time cruisers, ex-military men and CEOs on boats we met along the way told us we HAD to declare a captain because sooner or later someone would have to take charge. They were wrong. Depending on our talents, curiosity or energy level, one of us always rose up to handle the very tough situations.

Every nautical mile forced us into a new relationship – one that surpassed just being a mother and daughter. I loved Robert Scoble’s ways he cultivates new relationships. But even an existing relationship can find new dimensions -even one that’s family. My daughter is now my co-author, colleague, business partner and we present together. How cool is that? But learning to trust and rely on one another differently began as we pushed a little boat through the water.

Craig Pearce and Charles Manz advocate “shared leadership.” insisting that the image of a larger-than-life, all-knowing leader is an over-simplification of leadership. Shared leadership – where all members are fully engaged in the leadership of the team- is critical to success.

From my experience, shared leadership is tough. The concept won’t be likable to many. But today’s leadership challenges can best be met by letting go first of old ways of thinking. Asked so many times, “Who’s the captain?” we shrugged our feminine shoulders and said, “We don’t have one.” And for those would still say, “But you have to have a Captain,” – well, you’re welcome aboard our boat if you think you can handle being wrong.

Thanks to everyone who has joined this Blog Fest. It’s got my mind a buzzin’ in new and different ways! Thanks Heath!

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