This book supports the trend in many corporations toward flattening parts of their traditional top–down hierarchical management systems into more egalitarian, democratized, and distributed organizational forms. It shows participants in flattened organizational units how to exercise effective leadership despite lacking the command-and-control authority of conventional bosses.
Especially in the technology sector, large projects have become too complex to be mastered by any single leader. Drawing on his experience as an executive consultant for such multinationals as Accenture, SAP, and Roche, Roger Strathausen analyzes the situations and benefits that motivate companies to adopt flattened organizational forms. He shows the calculations that can persuade a corporation that empowering a multi-talented group to manage itself by horizontal cooperation can deliver product with more speed, efficiency, innovation, and nimbleness than a solo boss could, while yielding higher employee productivity and retention rates.
Leading When You’re Not the Boss surveys the variety of flattened organizational forms, ranging from quasi-autonomous self-organizing cadres embedded in vertically structured parent corporations to whole corporations that radically reorganize themselves into "holacracies" of pure bosslessness. It classifies the various styles of nonhierarchical leadership that emerge in self-organizing groups, in which leadership roles may be shared, distributed, or serial, and whose successive ad hoc leaders may be chosen by election or consensus.
Strathausen answers the questions that arise when managers and workers need to adjust to unfamiliar leadership roles and rules in flattened organizational forms. What are managers to do when their traditional authority is sidelined by flat organizational forms? What are traditional rank-and-file workers to do when they find themselves called on to assume unaccustomed leadership roles? He shows displaced bosses and empowered workers how to guide from the side―how to achieve desired outcomes by horizontal persuasion and distributed initiative rather than by vertical diktat and passive obedience.
This book applies its lessons and secrets of nonhierarchical leadership with equal force to self-organizing teams, rotating consulships at managerial and executive levels, and cooperative ventures between opposite numbers in different organizations, such as international affiliates and business alliances. With an entertaining mix of real-world examples and an episodic HBR-style fictitious case study, the author illustrates throughout the book how his leadership lessons can be serviceable only when intelligently tailored to the dynamic complexities of specific situations, including the personalities and competencies of the people involved.
What You'll Learn
• How to tailor the techniques of shared leadership to specific business situations rather than treating them as iron rules
• How to flourish in nonhierarchical and ambiguously-hierarchical organizational contexts that encourage individual initiative for the joint benefit of the enterprise and personal professional growth
• How success and fulfillment at work are enhanced by organizational forms in which participants assess the situational relevance of their respective talents and actively apply them to group objectives in lateral cooperation with peers, as opposed to passively receiving orders from appointed bosses
Who This Book Is For
The primary readerships for this book are business leaders and managers at all levels in corporations and non-managerial professionals who work in self-directed teams.
The secondary readerships are practitioners, consultants, and academics interested in the topics of human resources, organizational design, and the future of work.