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Side by Side Leadership is a Two-Way Street


A Side by Side leader asks for and listens to contributors’ ideas, knowing that contributors have knowledge resources that may prove valuable to the company. Side By Side Leadership delivers on the promise of team work and cooperation, by applying the results of over 3,000 real world control group studies.This show of respect, in turn, makes the contributor receptive to the leader’s ideas. Two-way communication promotes the creation of shared goals, along with new ideas on how to achieve them.


Side by Side leaders lead more by listening than by talking. It sometimes takes a lot of listening to draw out the thinking of contributors who are not accustomed to being heard. Top-down, authoritarian leaders listen to only a few — mostly those in authority above them. The best Side by Side leaders listen to diverse voices and benefit from their combined wisdom, knowledge, and experience.


Here’s a quick rule of thumb to gauge whether you’re in a top-down situation. The next interaction you observe, whether a group meeting or a face-to-face talk, notice how long the leader talks and how long other people talk. Does the boss do most of the talking? Top-down bosses talk 70 percent of the time or more, leaving followers little or no time to present their ideas.


The Five Spheres


Side by Side Leadership recognizes five distinct aspects of leadership that work in combination to define an individual leadership style. We call these the “five spheres of influence.” Understanding these spheres, recognizing how each contributes to the overall strength of individual and organizational leadership, makes it possible to optimize one’s own leadership style. Anyone who is motivated can analyze their own leadership capabilities and use them side by side with others to create outstanding performance.











The 5 Spheres of Influence Within Side by Side Leadership:


Personal Leadership

This is the one element that all leaders must have in order for Side by Side Leadership to work. If a leader does not have strong values and direction, followers will not become Side by Side contributors. Conversely, a high-profile leader with integrity, passion, and commitment can influence others simply by living and working in harmony with his values and goals. Contributors learn to trust a personal leader who shows integrity and ethics; they walk alongside the leader even when the road is rocky and the direction uncertain.


Knowledge Leadership

Most people are easily influenced by the emotions of others. In Side by Side Leadership, knowledge leadership is a force that tempers and guides these emotional influences. Knowledge leaders take into account the best and most recent information, which enables other leaders and contributors to make the correct decision regarding any problem or opportunity. In the 1990s, it was faddish to be a “knowledge worker” — an engineer, chemist, lawyer, accountant, or other user of specialized information. But this term is misleading; the simple truth is that all workers, including those in service industries and manufacturing, use specialized knowledge to do their jobs. Knowledge workers are needed in every corner of the organization. The factory worker who reduces costs by applying knowledge and experience to just-in-time inventory methods is as much a knowledge worker as is a computer programmer.


Interpersonal Leadership

This is the influence a leader exerts person to person. It is the most intimate and direct of the five spheres of leadership influence, operating in both one-on-one and group interactions. Performance research has shown that a Side by Side interpersonal leadership approach can increase contributors’ work performance 10 to 20 percent. Side by Side interpersonal leadership training teaches effective ways of listening, speaking, and coaching individuals and groups.


Team Leadership

Along with the growth of jobs requiring specialized knowledge there has been a corresponding rise in work that is highly interdependent. Most tasks in organizations must be coordinated with other work done either inside or outside the organization. Team leaders are key coordinators, linking individual and team performance and goals to the organization’s goals, mission, vision, and values. Side by Side team leadership transforms work groups, which are often teams in name only, into consistently high-performing teams. Individuals on a team form a team interaction field, one of the many interaction fields that make up an organization. Skilled team leaders lead side by side with their team members, the team sponsor, and the managers and supervisors from other interaction fields. The research shows that when leaders train and require the whole team to share in leading the team (including its meetings), the result is a 25 to 70 percent improvement in performance.


Organizational Leadership

Leading an organization or part of an organization requires a different set of skills than team, knowledge, or interpersonal leadership. It involves understanding organizations as systems that interact in specific ways within themselves and with other organizations. Organizational leadership can either enhance or hinder the performance of everyone. Side by Side organizational leaders influence all internal leaders and contributors to uphold values and achieve visionary goals. They also work side by side with leaders of other organizations to achieve mutual goals.



Working Together


The 5 Spheres of Leadership Work together, with 1 or 2 dominating each role within the organizationTo understand how the five spheres of influence interact, take a moment to study the “five spheres” figure. The personal leadership element is at the center of the figure; this symbolizes the central importance of personal influence in Side by Side Leadership. It means that your leadership, to be effective, must be in harmony with your own values, personal purpose, and goals. All the other spheres of influence, all other leadership skills, emanate from and interact through this personal core.


Each of the five spheres of influence complements and supports the others. For example, to be a knowledge leader one must acquire knowledge. Acquiring knowledge often necessitates using interpersonal skills to gain access to other leaders’ knowledge — that is, to learn from others. Later, applying this knowledge to improve a work group’s performance requires team leadership.


Most people have one or two leadership skills that are better developed than the others. Fortunately, most roles within an organization only depend on one or two spheres to be successful. Naturally what is needed in one role may not be the same as another. Please know that you can improve and hone your skills and understanding in any of the spheres.


Action You Can Take Today


If you would like to learn more, you may find the award winning book Side By Side Leadership helpful. It provides a great deal of additional information on this topic and makes well researched and field-tested suggestions. At a minimum, we hope that you will give us your thoughts and comments. We are always excited to hear what people think. Here at Side By Side, Inc, we are committed to delivering leadership training and materials that deliver real bottom line results.