In 2015, I was encouraged to apply for the role of Pro-Vice-Provost (International) at University College London, UK. As full-time UCL academic and parent to a 5-year-old, I wasn’t interested in a full-time senior leadership role that would take me away from my research, and possibly my family. I was, however, intrigued by the opportunity to co-lead and retain 50 per cent of my academic practice. After finding another academic interested in co-leading, we successfully applied, interviewed together, and were offered the role. We were told, at the time, we were the most senior university co-leaders in any university in Europe and the Commonwealth, which presents a very interesting opportunity for reflection.

While job sharing and flexible working are becoming more common in schools, private and public sector organisations and universities, executive-level co-leadership remains a rarity. In this chapter, I draw on my knowledge as a scholar of educational leadership and on my own recent experience as a co-executive leader. I focus on: the evolution of co-leadership—drawing on the evidence exploring job shares and executive co-leadership; the importance of diversity within the co-leader dyad; lessons learned as a co-leader; and, the case for co-executive leaders to create a positive response to generational and gender pressures.

While collaboration is always challenging, the benefits of co-leadership outweigh the administrative, relational, and economic costs of hiring two leaders instead of one. This chapter aims to reflect on the personal costs and benefits of co-executive leadership to create a blueprint of helpful steps for others looking to work as a team at the top.