Alternatives To The "Heroic" Leader: An Investigation Of Distributed Leadership In Nonprofit Organisations

2017-06-08T06:37:00Z (GMT) by Inglis, Loretta
Most leadership literature is based on the idea of one single, heroic leader. However, there is an alternate view in the literature, emphasised recently, that leadership is not the prerogative of one individual, but is likely to be distributed among different members of an organization or team. This paper discusses the literature on a range of leadership ideas relating to this theme. Much of this literature assumes the empowerment of others by a leader in order for them to take a leadership role where appropriate; yet in some organizations it is clear that two, or more leaders at executive management level are actively involved in sharing the leadership of the whole organisation. Distributed leadership, and other similar terms, is particularly evident in the literature related to nonprofit organisations in the educational and healthcare industries, but there is little discussion of distributed leadership in community member benefit nonprofits. This paper seeks to identify if distributed leadership exists in a range of community nonprofit associations. The study outlines the structure of six nonprofit associations showing the number of leaders involved and how leadership functions are performed. This reveals that there is no single leader paramount in these organisations, and rather than a hierarchical structure, with one individual leader being recognised, leadership in these organisations is exercised by at least two people working together in some form.