Journal Article | MIT Sloan Management Review | 48 | July 2007
Leading in Pairs
“Ninety percent of the trouble we have with the chief executive’s job is rooted in our superstition of the one-man chief,” wrote Peter Drucker in his 1954 book The Practice of Management. More than half a century later, the image of one and only one omnipotent leader remains deeply seated both in business theory and practice.Although the figure of the charismatic CEO continues to dominate, leadership may be shared in numerous ways. Co-heading a company, after all, allows different leadership styles and competencies to be simultaneously available to the organization, something difficult to manage with a single individual.For example, one of the co-heads can be task-oriented, while the other is a “people person.” Or one can focus on innovation — the study and pursuit of new opportunities — while the other controls the exploitation of existing operations.One can lead the personnel inside the organization, while the other mobilizes the energy and support of external stakeholders.