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Tennis New Zealand – unify, lead and strengthen: A case study about shared leadership

Authors:
2013
by Sam Young
Tennis New Zealand –
unify, lead and strengthen
A case study about shared leadership
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Tennis New Zealand – unify, lead & strengthen
A case study about leadership
How do you co-ordinate a “together, yet separate” organisation made up of 477
affiliated member clubs with different constitutions, aims and structures, 66
unaffiliated clubs, six ‘special interest’ affiliates, 25 regional divisions, 28 sub-
divisions and a 25 member board?1
Sports in New Zealand are funded through Sport New
Zealand (SNZ). SNZ provides funding and expertise
through national sports and recreation organisations
(NSOs & NROs)2. Effectively, the NSOs are the national
representatives for their respective sports, responsible
for sports governance and national operation3.
The ethos of NSOs is grounded in their history as
independent volunteer executive committees which ran
on the smell of an oily rag in the service of their
members, with their own constitutions and aims
3. In
New Zealand, similar to Canada and Australia, NSOs are “responsible for maintaining the rules and organisation”1
of their sporting codes, working on all levels – international, national, regional and club – and nowadays with paid
administration and management.
Tennis New Zealand, or TNZ, is New Zealand’s NSO for tennis. TNZ is responsible for administration and
management, and is proud of being one of the International Tennis Federation founding members. With nearly 500
member clubs and 44,000 individual members, TNZ's activities include national grading, selection and
management of representative teams and players, national and international tournament organising and hosting,
arranging junior player international tours, supporting our emerging players on the world tours and Grasshoppers,
a games-based primary school tennis introductory course4.
More than 317,000 New Zealanders play tennis, making it NZ's second most popular adult participation sport after
golf5. TNZ advocates for all tennis players in New Zealand, including elite Kiwi players such as Marina Erakovic
4.
Today, TNZ is a lean, mean organisation with good communication flows back to grassroots tennis. But it wasn’t
always that way.
From the 1990s on, tennis experienced a downturn in performance. Players competing internationally struggled to
get into the world top 100, where once tennis in New Zealand had had players in the top 20
3. TNZ’s 25 regions
were “together, yet separate” due to the differences in constitutions, aims and structures
1. ‘Head Office’ had a
culture of imposing decisions and direction on the regions; each region did what they felt was important6.
From the early 2000s, TNZ’s turnover was in deficit, rising to a fairly stellar loss of $400k in 2006 on a turnover of
just over $1.4m. A TNZ ‘health check’ survey in 2004 further revealed declining participation, volunteer numbers,
maintenance programmes and funding, and fewer inter-club competitions. Membership decreased 38% over the 20
years, 1985 to 20057. Over 66% of tennis clubs numbered fewer than 100 members
3.
Health-check survey participants reported that TNZ was “unwieldy”, “ungovernable”, had “no agreed agenda for
the sport” and that there was a national-regional “disconnect”
6. They appeared to lack a higher purpose to help the
1 (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010, p. 236)
2 (SNZ, n.d.)
3 (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010)
4 (TNZ, 2011)
5 (TNZ, 2008)
6 (Ferkins, 2007)
7 TNZ 1985 63500 members; 1990 54000; 2005 43792. Same period NZ population growth of 21% - 1985 3.3m, 2006,
4.2m (base) (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010; StatsNZ, 2013)
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regions, clubs or volunteers to co-operate with the national body
3. The clubs felt that Head Office was not listening
to them. The regions felt that neither the clubs nor Head Office were listening to them. Head Office was frustrated
that no one was doing as they were told, and no one would say why. All participants felt disenfranchised
6.
There were no clear pathways for communication, strategy, planning, finance, funding, decisions, ideas,
innovation, control or reporting. It was too hard to get the 25 regions to agree, and to keep 25 organisational heads
on task and seeing the bigger picture. Individual agendas got in the way
6. Those individual agendas and uneven
allocation of resources resulted in power being unevenly spread. More powerful regions had the ability to sequester
larger amounts of scarce resources for their own agendas, not necessarily aligned nor prioritised by TNZ
6.
What happened next was surprising. In 2005, a New Zealand doctoral researcher at Unitech’s Department of
Sport, Lesley Ferkins, approached Tennis New Zealand to explore what they could do together to improve TNZ’s
governance. Dr Ferkins looked at how successful NSO boards had developed strategic capability, analysed TNZ’s
context, interviewed participants and identified common themes arising and had TNZ consider, contextualise and
apply those ideas. Both parties learned from each other and explored potential solutions in an equal partnership
3.
They found TNZ was significantly fragmented; all those separate clubs, directions and leaders; plus a greater
multiplicity of goals, funding approaches, constitutions, directors, reporting requirements and constituents
effectively working against each other
3. While the TNZ board contained directors with good strategic thinking
skills, great sports and macro-environmental knowledge, conducting good strategic design, analysis and
articulation; they were effectively being road-blocked when trying to enact their strategic priorities to the regions
3.
The regions felt that the NSO was imposing, telling, and controlling. They felt disenfranchised and there was a
climate of “misunderstanding, suspicion and fear”
8. The regions felt that TNZ misunderstood the idea of sports
‘ownership’, and that the regions did not have a fair say despite feeling they were the legitimate ‘owner’8.
TNZ started working together with national and regional stakeholders to develop a “greater level of awareness and
appreciation of their respective roles”, voicing fears and suspicion that had been allowed to go unexplored for too
long9. They also faced the realities of their declining sport where in-fighting would only hasten the decline.
Through what became real dialogue, the disparate parts of the ‘business’ got to know each other, trust each other,
understand each other’s points of view and to debate with each other as equals for the good of the sport. They
created a pan-organisational climate of seeking the middle-ground, power-sharing and jointly creating paths,
processes, outcomes and goals
3. TNZ’s collective focus shifted from control to negotiation and collaboration
6.
Pressure from Sport New Zealand to get “their act together” also provided impetus for TNZ10. Changes were made
to the regional structures, decreasing the regions to six, and changing their constitutions and MOUs11 – rephrasing
‘control’ statements as ‘enhance’ and ‘develop’ – to allow for a six member representative board charged with “the
greater good of the sport”, reinforcing the new six regions’ autonomy12 3.
The ‘us’ and ‘them’ became ‘we’. The internal culture of TNZ has continued to shift from an adversarial top-down
telling approach to an engaged atmosphere of co-operative inquiry and a federated network of answers.
TNZ is now working towards a stronger sense of collective interdependence between the different sectors of the
organisation, a clear idea of what each of their roles needed to be for the success of tennis as a whole, an
understanding of their internal ‘power dynamics’ and a much clearer sense of their regional constitutional
‘ownership’
6. To embed this in the organisation, TNZ created a new vision: “New Zealand is a tennis nation” and a
new purpose: to “Unify, lead and strengthen tennis in New Zealand”13. Their shared goal is clear; their collective
path toward it more certain.
Discussion Questions
1. What do you feel the key issues were for the leadership of Tennis New Zealand?
2. What do you feel is TNZ’s new leadership style?
3. What issues might TNZ face under a change of CEO or Board Chair?
8 (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010, p. 248)
9 (Ferkins, 2007, p. 24)
10 (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010, p. 247)
11 Memorandum of Understanding – documenting and formalising understandings and agreements between organisations
12 (Ferkins, 2007, p. 28)
13 (TNZ, 2011)
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TEACHING NOTES
Use of This Case
This case is designed for undergraduates studying
leadership, to better understand the concepts of shared
leadership.
Case Objectives
Students will examine shared leadership and the issues with
implementing and maintaining a shared leadership style.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What do you feel the key issues were for the leadership
of Tennis New Zealand?
Students should identify the following key issues:
Lack of Trust
Hosmer defined trust from an individual standpoint as “the result of ‘right’, ‘just’,
and ‘fair’ behaviour – that is, morally correct decisions and actions based upon the
ethical principles of analysis – that recognizes and protects the rights and interests of
others within society” and from an organisational viewpoint as “the expectation by
one person, group or firm of ethically justifiable behaviour – that is, morally correct
decisions and actions based upon ethical principles of analysis – on the part of the
other person, group, or firm in a joint endeavor or economic exchange” (1995, p.
399).
Trust is a key component of leadership, “critical to the success of leaders and essential
for the followers” (Martin, 1998, p. 48). Without trust from the participants in the
leadership process, there will be no “real changes and outcomes that reflect [leader
and follower] shared purposes” (Rost, 1990, p. 102, as cited by Daft & Pirola-Merlo,
2009, p. 4).
The regional sports organisations, or independent regional entities (‘branches’) of
Tennis New Zealand, didn’t trust the national sports organisation to represent the
will of the ‘owners’ (Ferkins, 2007; Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010). Without trust,
leadership is paralysed, and ineffective.
Failure of Leadership
It is generally accepted that good leadership is more critical in sports organisations
than in business, because sports organisations are more cohesive (Carron &
Case Synopsis
What happens when a
National Sports
Organisation tries to impose
governance on a group of 25
rebellious regions and six
very diverse national
affiliate organisations,
comprising of 477 clubs,
with declining membership
(despite being the second-
most participated-in sport in
the country), poor financial
returns and decreasing
national and international
player rankings and
performance? Dysfunction,
mistrust, fragmentation and
fear.
This is the true story of the
evolution of Tennis New
Zealand (TNZ) which
moved from a hierarchical
command and control head
office with subordinate
branches to an egalitarian,
shared leadership network
partnership under the
guidance of Dr Lesley
Ferkins.
This case looks at the shared
leadership model, as it has
been successfully
implemented throughout
the Tennis NSO and RSOs
which make up TNZ.
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Chelladurai, 1981); there are more complex interpersonal dynamics (Bloom, Schinke, & Salmela, 1998;
Martens, 1990); poor communication has more far-reaching effects; a more adaptable leadership style &
strong perception skills are required to select appropriate approaches; a high stress tolerance, a good
ability to rebound from adversity, and the necessity to be constantly seeking out the new is required; and
because an intensive use of psychology is essential (Crust & Lawrence, 2006).
Henry and Lee (2004, p. 26) discuss the “failure of coordination between sporting and other relevant
bodies; a failure of governments to regulate or control potentially harmful activities; and a failure to
establish decision-making, or to control procedures, which are fairly, transparently and efficiently
implemented” as being key issues in sports leadership, as it relates to governance. Their networked
governance model draws on a “complex web of interrelationships between stakeholders” (p. 28) where
stakeholder groups effect change and use power depending on alliances, need and environmental pressure,
much more suited to the fast paced change occurring in the professional sports sector. Further, Henry and
Lee propose seven principles necessary for leadership in sports governance: transparency, accountability,
democracy, responsibility, equity, and those two old management retainers: effectiveness and efficiency
(2004).
TNZ, in working from a top-down, command and control model (Ferkins, 2007), was attempting to
operate with old tools in a new environment. Additionally, TNZ was unable to operate using any of the
seven principles proposed by Henry and Lee (2004) for good sports governance.
Jackson and Parry point out that leadership “is a process that goes on between all people and that all
people can be involved in leadership, almost in spite of their formal position” (2008, p. 83). A leadership
act takes place when, in the words of Marie Corelli, “Seize this very minute. Whatever you can do, or
dream you can begin it; Boldness has genius, power, magic in it” (misattributing Goethe, 1905, p. 31). In
a leadership vacuum, we can chose to take leadership action, even though we are not the ‘official’ or
acknowledged leader. Phil Dourado tells us that acts of leadership can be taken anywhere, at any time, by
any person in an organisation (2007), and that “a vibrant organization is full of acts of leadership” (2007, p.
164). Great results “depend […] on the capacities of individuals (who may be located in a wide variety of
positions)” (Dourado, 2007, p. 165, citing Flowers, 2005), and this capacity is even more critical in the
largely voluntary sports sector.
Further, if leadership acts within an organisation are continually met with negativity or resistance, the
actors themselves will wear down. Others will see the fruitlessness of taking action, and chose not to take
leadership action themselves.
Tennis New Zealand, due to its fragmented constituents and diverse construction, made it extremely
difficult to see acts of leadership at a national level (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010; Ferkins, 2007). With no
clear leaders, few rewards for acts of leadership, resistance to change and negativity, the lack of visibility
of leadership acts reduced the likelihood of TNZ members making acts of leadership.
Feeling a Lack of Ownership and Control
Unique aspects of sports and sporting organisations include sports have many diverse stakeholders needs
which need to be met, without the clarity of actual ownership; the strong sense of emotional connection
and passion that stakeholders engender towards their teams, clubs and codes; balancing business needs
with competition, the authenticity of the contest and uncertain outcome; strong ‘brand’ loyalty from
sports consumers; vicarious identification and cultural affiliation with code ‘heroes’; high levels of
optimism; and a conservative approach to the adoption of new technology while holding onto traditions
which may no longer meet code needs (Hoye, Smith, Westerbeek, Stewart & Nicholson, 2006).
The tennis’ regional sports organisations and regional tennis clubs felt that they should be the ‘owners’ of
tennis in New Zealand, but that the suspected differing agendas of the NSO threatened or challenged that
ownership. Due to the lack of frank and honest discussion between the NSO, RSOs and clubs, elements of
5
“misunderstanding, suspicion and fear” had grown and had effectively blocked communication and shared
purpose (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010, p. 148). TNZ was not communicating with the grass roots members
of its organisation, not making it clear that they understood members’ passion for their sport and their
clubs. TNZ appeared unaware of the conservative nature of sportspeople, whereby for change to be
effective, it would need to be planned carefully and communicated well, showing stakeholders clearly
where each action would benefit members and the sport as a whole.
Lack of Dialogue
Daft & Pirola-Merlo define dialogue as active sharing & listening where participants explore common
ground without preconceptions or agenda, growing to understand each other freely through shared ideas
and together finding a common world view (2009). Discussion, on the other hand, is where your point of
view is proposed – or imposed – as the best option, you persuade everyone else to your view, and
opposing opinions are beaten down. The two approaches can be compared as inquiry, mutuality and unity
versus advocacy, persuasion and winning.
When taking a dialogue approach, the resulting unity and mutual understanding provides long-term
solutions for organisations. Discussion, on the other hand, tends to result a short-term, quick fixes.
Daft & Pirola-Merlo’s model of dialogue and discussion (2009, p. 278) illustrates the differences between
these two ideas.
Because dialogue is characterised by group unity, brainstorming ideas to meet each person’s needs,
working for shared meaning, commitment to looking for the meaning behind the words of others,
openness, seeking mutual purposes, and transformed mindsets, it fits very well with the concept of shared
leadership.
The regions felt that the board had hidden agendas, and were fearful of losing control of ‘their’
organisation. Parties took up entrenched positions over issues (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010; Ferkins, 2007).
Before the change process, and intervention of Dr Ferkins, TNZ had a climate of discussion – not a culture
of dialogue.
Lack of Power
Power is an intangible force in organisations that provides us with the ability to “influence other people to
bring about desired outcomes” (Daft & Pirola-Merlo, 2009, pp. 380-381). Pfeffer (1992, p. 12, also Yukl,
2006) states that power is the “capacity to bring about certain intended consequences in the behaviour of
others”.
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TNZ’s clubs and regions felt disempowered and disenfranchised by their national sports organisation;
TNZ as ‘Head Office’ felt powerless to enact their strategic role by the opposition in the regions (Ferkins
& Shilbury, 2010; Ferkins, 2007).
Having to Please Multiple Stakeholders
Sport and sporting organisations answer to many diverse stakeholders who feel a strong emotional
connection to ‘their’ code, without the clarity of actual ownership. Business needs must be balanced with
competition, along with the authenticity of the contest and cultural expectations (Hoye, Smith,
Westerbeek, Stewart & Nicholson, 2006). While there are often few layers within sports organisations
individually, the collective web of sports organisations complicate clear communication, alignment of
purpose and wise use of scarce resource to a degree not seen in business (Hoye & Cuskelly, 2007). Henry
and Lee networked governance model draws on this “complex web of interrelationships between
stakeholders” (2004, p. 28), acknowledging it, so that stakeholder groups can use it to effect change and
use power depending on alliances, need and environmental pressure.
Further, funding is often from tagged sources such as government, gambling or sponsorship arrangements
which helps to ensure that sport remains short of resources, thus feels short of choices.
Enormous Expectations
Sport in New Zealand brings with it enormous expectations. Our government views – and funds – sports
to build on our sporting tradition, and to drive economic development and societal well-being (Hoye,
Smith, Westerbeek, Stewart & Nicholson, 2006; HPSNZ, 2013). Kiwi athletes anticipate, by dint of
talent, hard work and training, being able to compete with the best in the world (HPSNZ, 2013). The
volunteers who run the clubs expect some level of voice and ownership in the organisations they give their
time to, despite feeling they are “being treated badly with little or no respect from sport organisations”
(SPARC, 2007; SPARC, 2006, p. 7). Audiences expect to have access to view sport, and treat sport as a
social good (Nicholson, 2007). All participants tend to be more ‘brand’ loyal than the average consumer
(Hoye, Smith, Westerbeek, Stewart & Nicholson, 2006).
These expectations then make the performance downturn of TNZ even more of a disappointment for all
stakeholders, and helped to provide the critical impetus for change at TNZ.
What do you feel is TNZ’s new leadership style?
Transformational Leadership
Transformational leadership is characterised by the ability to bring about significant change in followers
and the organisation, and the influence relationships this style uses to create a transformation in follower
and leader attitudes, motivations and behaviours. Transformational leaders influence and inspire the
follower group using an intangible shared vision, supported by values and ideas which provide meaning
and clarity to the group’s shared goals. Followers get to be leaders, to develop and self-actualise; leaders
get to inspire and paint a vivid ‘future vision’ (Jackson & Parry, 2011; Daft, 2009).
Transactional leadership on the other hand, is a style that relies on exchange; where rewards are given in
return for compliance and performance (Daft, 2009).
TNZ is definitely trying to transition the governance leadership of the organisation from a transactional
style of leadership, based on exchange, to a more transformational style; one based on a clear future
vision, values and ideas which to provide greater meaning, clarity and better aligned goals.
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Ethical Leadership
Integrity, honesty, being professional, being dependable, trustworthy, leading by example and
communicating what is accountable organisational behaviour are becoming features of ethical leadership.
Ethical leaders do not have a personal need for power; they rather divert it for the benefit of others
(Brown & Trevino, 2006). TNZ does not surround themselves with personal hype and publicity; as an
organisation, the distrust charismatic traits. As opposed to focusing on profit, they are creating a socially
good, and are attempting to embed a culture of development and sharing towards all participants.
However, this leadership style does not allow for acts of leadership, which the next option does make
room for.
Shared Leadership
Pearce & Conger define shared leadership as “A dynamic, interactive influence process amongst individuals
in groups for which the objective is to lead one another to the achievement of group or organisational
goals or both” (2003, p. 1). Allen, Morton and Li define it as “the co-creation of an environment by a
group of individuals, organizations, and communities with the intent to accomplish a common vision and
collaborative goals” (2003, p. 4).
The components of shared leadership are defined by Moxley (2000) as balance of power (ie equal
partners); shared purpose; shared responsibility; mutual respect; commitment (both in tough times and
good times).
For the partnership model to work, you need an egalitarian balance of power, and to use their personal
power (our own “gifts and skills, our competence and our expertise”) to co-create win:win outcomes.
Equally, no one within the group can use coercive power or the power of their position. Those within the
organisation must be equal partners, empowering each other. Creating a true balance of power is likely
the hardest aspect of a shared leadership model (Moxley, 2000, p. 96; Ferkins, 2007).
The element of shared purpose must be lived by every member of the leadership group, with individual’s
divergent opinions and agendas subsumed for the group goal. Shared leadership has room for different
tactics, debate and working through conflict, but the purpose remains the same. The partners honour the
opinions of all, but the shared commitment to the group’s intended outcome is always clearly in view and
being aimed for by all (Moxley, 2000).
Responsibility and accountability for partnership work is also essential. This cannot be an “us and them”
model; “it can only be us. There is no waiting for someone else to act” (Moxley, 2000, p. 76).
Interestingly, Moxley also suggests that shared leadership needs to separate authority and accountability,
regardless of position, so that every role in the organisation is where the ‘buck stops’ (Moxley, 2000).
Moxley also specifies deep respect for the” inherent worth and value” people as an essential element of
shared leadership (2000, p. 76); embracing diversity, and assuming that all participants bring unique gifts,
skills and energies. Respect also requires dignity, respect and truly valuing each individual.
Moxley’s final requirement is partnering in the nitty-gritty, with all participants work together,
interdependently, to make sense of demanding, complex, real and concrete problems. Sharing in the tough
times when change is mission-critical can be easier than creating shared outcomes when life is easy, where
egos and agendas bloom. With a shared leadership model, no one will save you but yourself; there is no
manager who will decide and tell the team what to do (Moxley, 2000).
When Moxley’s requirements are met, relationships transform into a partnership, inspiring a feel and tone
of increased vitality and energy; even spirituality (2000).
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Characteristics of shared leadership (Nemerowicz & Rosi, 1997, p. 16) as compared to universalistic (trait
and great man) leadership show a clear difference in philosophical approach. Shared leadership aligns well
with sports organisations where there is a more societal agenda and volunteers are driven by generosity,
their love of sport, creating a sense of social connection, and paying back (appreciation) (SPARC, 2006):
Characteristics Universalistic Leadership Shared Leadership
Authority base Formal position Quality of people’s interactions
Evaluated by Leader solving problems People working well together
Responsibility Leaders provide solutions & answers All work to enhance processes.
Shared responsibility & fulfilment
Power / Equality Distinct differences between leaders
& followers
Interdependence. All are active
participants in the leadership process
Communication Often formal Comms are key, focusing on
dialogue
Processes Often rely on secrecy, deception &
payoffs.
Value democracy, honesty & shared
ethics. Seek common good.
98
Sports’ collective ideals (SPARC, 2006) fit well with Nemerowicz & Rosi’s shared leadership
characteristics; those aspects of interaction, working together, interdependence, communication and
seeking the common good (1997, p. 16).
TNZ was initially a far more ‘command and control’ oriented culture. The shift to a shared leadership
model will provide many challenges, but is a model far better suited to a sports organisation largely run by
volunteers, where participation in decision making is also of prime importance (Inglis, 1997).
Involvement in Decision-making
The “Continuum of involvement in decision making” was expanded by Dr Ferkins from the three “Levels
of Part-time Board Member Involvement in Strategy” proposed by Pettigrew and McNulty (1999). Similar
to Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s “Continuum of leadership behaviour” (1973), the Continuum of
Involvement outlines how much organisations involve participants in decision-making; ranging from
arbitrary directing to total participation.
Dr Ferkins defined ‘being told’ as being where the board “accepts or rejects proposals presented by
management” (Ferkins, 2007, p. 19), and aligned this with Pettigrew & McNulty’s Level 1(1999). Level 2
was where the board was consulted with and “helps shape ideas regarding strategy” (p. 19) under ‘being
asked’; and Level 3 where the board’s “influence is continuous and helps create an environment for
strategic debate and influences the way management develops strategy” (p. 19) aligned with ‘shaping
design’. Dr Ferkins then suggests two additional levels, with (4) ‘co-leading design’ aligned with
Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Leadership Continuum at “Manager permits subordinates to function within
limits defined by superior” (1973, p. 164), where the board “co-leads the development of a strategic plan
in full collaboration with management” (p. 19), followed lastly by (5) ‘Driving design’ where the board
“collaborates with management to design board processes that utilise, monitor and sustain the strategic
priorities” (p. 19). See below, Ferkins, 2007, after Pettigrew & McNulty, 1999:
9
This model then fits very well with the idea of shared leadership.
TNZ initially operated at the ‘Being told’ end of the spectrum, which was not achieving the organisation’s
goals, nor meeting the needs of the regional members, the clubs or the sport as a whole.
They are now aware that they are aiming towards the ‘Driving design’ end of the spectrum where the
board “collaborates with management to design board processes that utilise, monitor and sustain the
strategic priorities” end of the continuum (Ferkins, 2007, p. 19); where the skills, motivations,
expectations and rewards for all participants are very much different.
Networked Model
Where traditional business governance models are more hierarchical, top-down, controlling and driven by
exchange with salaried management and paid employees, sports administration must rely far more on the
genuine goodwill and the passion of the participants. Sport governance tends to be more open, more
diverse and far more alliance-driven. Almost everyone involved in sporting endeavour will have an
engaged opinion – though often diverse – as to whether the operation is being run well or poorly, and be
interested in taking action to correct it.
The networked governance model of Henry and Lee (2004) draws the idea that sports operates using a
“complex web of interrelationships between stakeholders” (p. 28) where stakeholder groups effect change
and use power depending on alliances, need and environmental pressure. This model is suited to the fast
paced change occurring in the professional sports sector, it is flexible, adaptive and a model that enables
sports organisations to respond quickly to shifts in the external environment.
The networked model works in several ways. Firstly, by being clear about the purpose, nature and
direction of each organisation within the loose alliances that are formed. Secondly, by being directly
accountable to the stakeholders and for the decisions that they make with regard to risk, finance and to the
spirit of the sport. Thirdly, in acting as representatives when making decisions, and ensuring their members
also are representative of the organisational demographics. Fourthly, by taking responsibility as stewards
for the longevity, sustainability and community of the sport. Fifthly, in treating all aspects of the
organisation with fairness, parity and equity. Sixthly, and finally, in ensuring that the sports organisation is
both effective and efficient (Henry & Lee, 2004).
Considering Henry and Lee’s seven requirements, TNZ was: (1) unclear about their purpose, nature and
direction of each member of the alliance; (2) unable to be accountable due to that lack of clarity; (3) was
not acting as representatives when decision-making; (4) was unable to act as sports stewards; (5) was
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unable to provide fairness, parity and equity; (6 & 7) was therefore ineffective and efficient (Ferkins,
2007; Ferkins & Shilbury, 2010).
TNZ in seeking potential solutions for reworking the organisation’s structure adopted, in Dr Ferkins’
opinion, Henry and Lee’s networked governance model (“Systemic governance of sport: football - a web
of interaction between stakeholders” 2004, p. 30) overlaying the shared leadership aspects of power-
sharing, participation in decision-making, partnering, co-ownership and collaboration to create their
unique Networked model of governance (Ferkins, 2007).
TNZ shifted from an (A) hierarchical, top-down governance model to a (B) flatter, egalitarian shared
leadership model, where true representative shared leadership is sought and rewarded (Ferkins &
Shilbury, 2010, p. 251)
What issues might TNZ face under a change of CEO or Board Chair?
Fear of team leadership
Jackson and Parry (2011) note that people are intrinsically suspicious of team leadership, not wanting to
participate in a model which may be ‘shared’ in name, but not in nature, rewards or responsibility. New
personnel, particularly in paid positions, may find their distrust of the shared leadership model creates
barriers which effectively halt the effectiveness of TNZ model.
11
Risk of cultural shift
Jackson and Parry (2011) flag the sustainability of distributed leadership models over time. With
personnel, policy, reward, external environment and strategic changes, the initial purpose for shared
leadership may change so much that the underpinning principles are dispersed or no longer relevant.
Further, Jackson and Parry suggest that hierarchical models still have benefits to contribute, and that
leader-centric models, with refinement, may serve as a “healthy democratic counterbalance” (2011, p.
111).
Challenge to the leader’s ego
Ferkins (2007) raises the issue of shared leadership being a challenge to the appointed organisational
leadership; both the CEO and the Chair of the Board. When a CEO is appointed to a position, it is
expected that the power, authority and responsibility for decisions, results, purpose, culture and goal-
achievement falls into the one ‘accountable’ set of hands.
A more traditional CEO coming on board may find working in a truly shared leadership model, where the
separation of authority and accountability (Moxley, 2000) might find the new leader struggling to
understand where they fit, how to appropriately use power, and how their results will be measured.
Logistical Challenges
Ferkins (2007) raises the issue of shared leadership having logistical challenges in creating a shared
leadership model, and in keeping a shared leadership model functioning healthily over time.
Creating the necessary shared leadership environment where there is a balance of power, a shared
purpose, shared responsibility, building mutual respect and commitment (Moxley, 2000) is a difficult
transition from an organisation such as TNZ where there was suspicion, mistrust, silos, segregation and no
clear communications channels (Ferkins, 2007). A great deal of effort must be invested in enabling free
dialogue and building the interpersonal networks that the model relies on.
In addition, the time and enduring effort that it takes to ensure that the group stay engaged in rich
dialogue, continues to build trust, respect, and commitment will provide their own logistical challenges
when there are so many other claims on individual’s time and energy.
Power & Status
Jackson and Parry (2011, p. 104) suggest that “deep power structures” visible in organisations through car
parks, company cars, office spaces and furniture, access to key personnel, actions, language, mannerisms
and rewards can reinforce our leadership assumptions, stereotypes and prejudices. Those coming into a
shared leadership organisation may seek to remake it in line with their own expectations. Shared
leadership models provoke legitimate concerns over concentrations of power, and highlight the roles and
influence of followers.
Additionally, someone who is used to wielding position or coercive power could destroy the trust
inherently necessary for shared leadership (Moxley, 2000).
What rewards does a shared leadership style bring?
Transformational style
Shared leadership is a transformational leadership style with a shared process (Jackson & Parry, 2011),
which inspires careful communication, and a lot of listening. The idea of collective leadership was initially
proposed by Burns in 1978, the initiator of the transformational leadership meta-theory, which Burns
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expanded on in 1996, exploring the idea of “webs of potential collective leadership” (p. 1). This concept
fits well with the networked model of Henry and Lee (2004).
Changes/decisions/actions become embedded
With shared leadership, when the group agrees, there is no wasted effort in fighting the change. It is
adopted and actioned. Because of the wide-spread agreement and adoption, one or two changes in
leadership group personnel will not result in a unilateral change in strategy or direction. Thus change can
be embedded. Additionally, groups tend to make better decisions and negotiate complexity better than
individuals – one of the many reasons for governance boards, committees, organisations and teams (Elkin,
Jackson and Inkson, 2004, as cited by Jackson & Parry, 2011; Jackson & Parry, 2011).
Enables leadership succession
Shared leadership enables succession in two ways. Firstly, leaders create more leaders through the process
of empowerment (Kouzes & Posner, 1998, as cited by Jackson & Parry, 2011). There is a rough proverb
that to see where a leader has been, look for more leaders. Secondly, with a shared leadership model, everyone is
more able to step into each other’s role as a direct result of the collaborative characteristics outlined by
Moxley (2000) of having a shared purpose, shared responsibility and commitment.
Allows other forms of leadership to be considered
The aspects of equal partnership, shared purpose and shared responsibility also allows other forms of
leadership to be considered (Moxley, 2000). Because the organisation is focused on what is best for the
organisation and egos are put aside for organisational good, the partners are able to step back and consider
what other forms of leadership that may better deliver what is truly best for the organisation.
Creates a culture of respect
The culture of respect created in a shared leadership model becomes endemic through the organisation
(Moxley, 2000). A shared leadership team’s interactions and dialogue is of high quality; they work well
together, all aiming to enhance processes; they share responsibility, are active participants in the
leadership process and acknowledge their interdependence; they possess values of democracy, honesty and
shared ethics, seeking the common good. This leads inevitably to mutual respect and trust (Nemerowicz &
Rosi, 1997).
Enables different & creative mental models to flourish
Due to the shared leadership characteristics as outlined by Nemerowicz and Rosi (1997) Moxley (2000) it
too is inevitable that in such a supportive and appreciative atmosphere, different and creative mental
models, such as “post-heroic or anti-heroic normative modes” are encouraged to flourish, and to add value
to the culture and creativity of the organisation (Jackson & Parry, 2011, p. 111).
Allows and fosters diversity
Again, with regard to the shared leadership characteristics earlier detailed by Nemerowicz and Rosi (1997)
Moxley (2000), diversity too is a natural side-effect.
Allows for flexibility
The structure of a shared leadership model allows for more flexibility when making complex decisions in
today’s fast changing environment, “characterized by speed, ambiguity and complexity” (Jackson & Parry,
2011, p. 105).
Allows for ownership
Again, with regard to the shared leadership characteristics earlier detailed by Nemerowicz and Rosi (1997)
Moxley (2000), the interdependence between the regions, the clubs and TNZ allowed “greater
clarification of the power dynamics and issues of ‘ownership’” (Ferkins, 2007, p. 24).
13
How do Acts of Leadership fit with Shared Leadership?
First have the group watch Phil Dourado’s True Leader Tales clip (2007) at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnUO_BW99_I&feature=related, then discuss the question above.
Jackson and Parry point out that leadership “is a process that goes on between all people and that all
people can be involved in leadership, almost in spite of their formal position” (2008, p. 83). A leadership
act takes place when, in the words of Marie Corelli, “Seize this very minute. Whatever you can do, or
dream you can begin it; Boldness has genius, power, magic in it” (misattributing Goethe, 1905, p. 31). In
a leadership vacuum, we can chose to take leadership action, even though we are not the ‘official’ or
acknowledged leader. Phil Dourado tells us that acts of leadership can be taken anywhere, at any time, by
any person in an organisation (2007), and that “a vibrant organization is full of acts of leadership” (2007, p.
164). Great results “depend […] on the capacities of individuals (who may be located in a wide variety of
positions)” (Dourado, 2007, p. 165, citing Flowers, 2005), and this capacity is even more critical in the
largely voluntary sports sector.
The components of shared leadership are defined by Moxley (2000) as balance of power (ie equal
partners); shared purpose; shared responsibility; mutual respect; commitment (both in tough times and
good times). The shared leadership model also relies on having authority derived from high quality
participant interactions, which can be measured by the teams and networks working well together.
Responsibility is shown by the participants consistently enhancing work processes with rich, open
communication and dialogue. There is true shared responsibility, which leads to fulfilment. All
participants understand their interdependence; they are active in the leadership process, they value
democracy, honesty and have shared ethics (Nemerowicz & Rosi, 1997). Trust must underpin each
transaction (Martin, 1998; Hosmer, 1995). Each understands that the ‘buck stops’ at their desks; exactly
the requirements for acts of leadership throughout the organisation (Moxley, 2000; Dourado, 2007).
Where have you seen shared leadership?
Ask students to discuss examples of where they have seen shared leadership, and draw out the
characteristics which worked, and the barriers they found.
Look for commonalities and themes between the examples, particularly if there is a strong ‘higher
purpose’ in the organisations where this has been tried (such as sports, hobbies and organisations with
some type of spiritual focus).
14
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