It seems the message might be getting through, that the way businesses are structured in multiple layered pyramid structures just doesn’t work any more, and it has a very little of chance of surviving the drastic changes facing our workforce in the next two decades.
The old ‘command and control’ leadership and organizational structure is obsolete. A different leadership style, one that depends on influencing and collaboration rather than ‘telling’, is required to deal with the current market complexities and fast-paced environmental changes. Leaders will rely more and more on their networks (not just social media networks) to develop influence across a diverse range of groups and individuals.
Traditional leadership and organizational structures might have worked well in less turbulent times where companies ran on simple departmental lines – and the CEO had time to think and plan with other executives. Communication was straight-forward, markets were predictable and people delivered consistently. But few businesses run this way anymore, markets are volatile, flexible and fluid. Innovation, collaboration and building strong outcome focused networks are the key for leaders and their teams for organisations to survive.
Even the tried and true traditionalist organisations are developing network type, self empowered style teams within their organisational structures, that are a more flattened with teams who even have a direct link to the board, no layers in between to negotiate red tape, get things approved and can therefore make effective and fast decisions.
The concept of self-directed teams is not a new one, but it is one that many organisations have tried and failed because they haven’t necessarily got the right leadership to engage people into the process. One of the major issues surrounding the use of self-directed teams is empowerment. People are empowered when they are given the authority and responsibility to make decisions affecting their work with a minimum of interference and second guessing by others. When people are empowered they bring their minds to work. They are engaged in making decisions that affect their part of the business. They take responsibility for their actions. They add value to the organization by embracing the principles of quality and service. They search for ways to make a difference.
Leadership is not a lone activity, it is always an interaction between the leader and a group of people to unite them in a common goal. In these flattened organizational structures, leaders almost become facilitators, because they learn to build collaborative, innovative , motivated and connected teams who drive their own output.