Collective leadership in the Soviet Union

Collective leadership (Russian: коллективное руководство, kollektivnoye rukovodstvo), or Collectivity of leadership (Russian: коллективность руководства, kollektivnost rukovodstva), was considered the ideal form of governance in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and other socialist states espousing communism. Its main task was to distribute powers and functions among the Politburo and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as well as the Council of Ministers, to hinder any attempts to create a one-man dominance over the Soviet political system by a Soviet leader, such as that seen under Joseph Stalin's rule. On the national level, the heart of the collective leadership was officially the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Collective leadership was characterised by limiting the powers of the General Secretary and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers as related to other offices by enhancing the powers of collective bodies, such as the Politburo.

Collective leadership was introduced following Stalin's death in 1953 and subsequent party leaders ruled as part of a collective. First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev criticized Stalin's dictatorial rule at the 20th Party Congress, but his increasingly erratic decisions lead to his ouster in 1964. He was replaced in his posts by Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and by Alexei Kosygin as Premier. Though Brezhnev gained more and more prominence over his colleagues, he retained the Politburo's support by consulting its members on all policies. Collective leadership was maintained under Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms espoused open discussion, leading to members of the leadership openly disagreeing on how little or how much reform was needed to rejuvenate the Soviet system.