Leadership Equality is a term that has to do with the responsibility of leading being evenly distributed among many as opposed to being concentrated into a few. In organizations today, we are seeing more business models with organizational structures that are moving towards focusing heavier workloads, responsibility for dictating strategic direction, and management responsibility onto middle management. To this end, we have seen more and more middle management positions calling for leadership tasks in a variety of organizations in different industries.
Historically, leadership responsibility has usually been placed in the hands of a select few, usually placed at the top of a company’s organizational chart. This older, more bureaucratic, approach has typically implied that leadership, particularly as it pertains to driving improvements in the organizational structure and processes within the organization, has been a top-down phenomenon. We know instinctively that the old bureaucratic method is no longer effective particularly in the light of new communication methods (social media, new technology platforms, etc). To be successful, organizations will need to attract individuals that understand that they will own the outcome of their work and that they have a moral responsibility to the organization to contribute to leading other peers and in some cases superiors as well. Organizations also will have to embrace the fact that much more attention has to be paid to their system of internal education with regard to discussions of innovative business practices.
To facilitate the move towards organizational structures with more potent and leadership-driven middle management, there are some core steps that today’s organizations should take. First the organization has to accept and embrace the principle of leadership equality and train it into their employee ranks:
- The responsibility of leadership is owned equally amongst the entire corporation, whether individuals accept it or not
- No one individual is more important or valuable than another
- All intellectual contributions influence outcome, no matter how big or small
- The organization must be transparent and seek input from nay-sayers or dissenters within
- Organizational humility is a requirement for embracing the shared leadership. No one individual takes all of the credit, nor deserves all of the blame.
The next step is to build responsibility for leadership into the core requirements for employment and include it into continuous improvement processes such as performance reviews and the development of organizational objectives. Promoting leadership equality within the organization will drive middle-managers and all employees to take more responsibility for business outcomes, lead to improved internal communication and education, and drive business effectiveness.
Thomas von Ahn | Chief Elephant Slayer | Viral Solutions LLC (in conjunction with Dino Browne)