The Disadvantages of Co-Leadership

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Co-leadership involves shared equal power between two or more individuals to improve management aspects including accountability, transparency, commitment and smooth transition of power from one administration to another. Co-leadership applies in running countries and small- or large-scale businesses and organizations. Effective adoption of co-leadership requires understanding the disadvantages this management style presents.

1 Potential for Conflict

Co-leaders with conflicting goals and ideas can give contradictory directives to people working under them -- leading to confusion within the organization. The group receiving orders may undermine authority following the disunity among the leaders, which weakens the company’s or the society’s visions and strategies and suppresses positive development.

2 Relationship Among Co-Leaders

Elements of distrust, unhealthy competition and over-dependence on one of the co-leaders may lead to disagreements and the organization’s inefficient administration. The situation can pressure the entity’s members to take sides depending on whom they think is a better leader; this could worsen the competition among co-leaders, leading to splinter groups.

3 Increased Expense

Organizations strive to treat co-leaders equally by offering them equal salaries, bonuses and luxury allowances, increasing the entity’s operating costs. The cost escalates with the entity’s number of co-leaders. Such equal treatment aims at avoiding conflicts between the leaders. For example, a leader earning more than his counterpart would feel superior and may take up more responsibilities instead of sharing tasks equally.

4 Lack of Accountability

Lack of accountability arises when leaders act to cover their parts of administrative duties rather than look at the administrative unit’s overall results. This weakens joint accountability that co-leadership aspires to achieve and creates gaps through which mismanagement of funds can occur. Projects that require joint inspection can receive reduced attention -- undermining the organization’s output.

5 Ambiguity of Reporting Centers

Employees working under co-leadership may not know whom to report to due to difference in the co-leaders’ opinions about projects. The situation worsens if co-leaders conflict with each other, as employees feel caught between the leaders’ disagreements. Employees may report to the leader in support of their views and ways of going about the work, undermining the other co-leader.

Nelson Reed started writing professionally in 2007. He has contributed to several publications including "The Daily Mirror." Reed holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass media and journalism from Winchester, University, England. He also holds a master's degree in international media relations from City University, London.