The emergence of a new style of business leadership: Quantum Leadership
The emergence of a new style of business leadership: Quantum Leadership
Leadership is about the action of leading a group of people or an organisation. Organisational structure dictates how work is assigned and managed in a company. Small organisations may have a relatively flat structure, especially newly formed companies. However, a company's organisational structure will become pyramidal in shape as more employees are hired. Typically, a pyramidal structure consists of the following layers from top to bottom: CEO, President, Vice-Presidents, Managers, Team Leaders and Supervisors and employees. While most company structures are pyramidal, companies still use different types of organisational structures. The type of organizational structure a company uses is often contingent on the type of customer it serves.
The way companies are run is generally from the top to the bottom layers. Thus, it creates a management structure model that is followed quite widely in today’s world. It is generally perceived that this is the only model for a business to be efficiently run. This model however has many issues that can be characterised as follows:
· Lack of flexibility because of firm boundaries and safeguarding formal rules. Such companies have difficulty to change structures. Also, when they do change, this may not reflect the needs of the employees.
· Employees are devalued – they are not recognised as been critical to the wellbeing of the businesses they serve. They are perceived as “doers” rather than creators of values as a minimum.
· Communications from top to bottom are manipulative rather than informative. Employees are told economical truths that are there to manipulate them and let them stay in a state of submission.
· Employees’ growth is generally ignored apart from the immediate need their organisations may have.
Lots of companies have also adopted matrix like structures, to supplement the older model, that allow them to operate better. Project or Agile Squads structures are used to partially break away from traditional departments (e.g. Design, Procurement, Marketing, etc…) to create a vertical dimension where teams of various disciplines work together. Employees are however finding themselves with two management lines (vertical for the projects or squads they work for and horizontal for the departments they belong to). This type of cross-functional teams is not really ground breaking as the leadership top down style is still very much in place and the disadvantages for the employees are also still very present. The issues remain the same though.
As business leaders who are conscious of the importance our companies are playing in society and the potential society changing impact we could have, we must look at other alternatives that will erase the issues of the past models and provide a dynamic new structure that will benefit society.
With the concept of new company models in mind, we could start looking at the Self-Organising model where employees are encouraged to find their projects and deliver the best, they can, in them. Such organisations are more fluid and more prone to more transparencies. The major differences between them and older models are as follows:
· Their basic structure is based on self-organising and self-administering teams.
· The teams are responsible for hiring, deciding pay and personal feedback
· There are no managers, only coaches, or temporary elected project managers for certain projects.
· Information is transparent for everybody
· Decision taking is driven by an individual after consulting, listening to and considering input from all relevant colleagues.
· A basic principle is trust instead of control. Thus, all employees are decision makers.
· The employees, not the company hierarchy, create an explicit value system and which new members will learn in trainings
· This model is strongly based on communication, collaboration and handling conflict.
This company model already addresses quite successfully the issues that were spelled out earlier on in this blog. The leadership structure is still present in this model, but in a more diluted format. This may be a big positive evolution when compared to the older model. However, there are potential issues with this model that can be summarised as follows:
· What will make team successful? Who will make sure that all the required skills are there to succeed. Team members may not be the best fit for the job to be undertaken. This can create lots of conflicts and therefore time wastage.
· Time for the team to start performing productively may be too excessive.
Following up on the Self-Organising model, we have the Holacracy one. In this model, the CEO’s power is transmitted to the Holacracy Constitution, that distributes the leadership power through specific processes. In effect, the authority is distributed so that everyone can make sense and resolve ideas and challenges they perceive. Roles are not static, and employees may have more than one. This leads an organisation to evolve toward its requisite structure that is the ultimate model for its current environment.
Holacracy’s lack of active leadership may create all sorts of issues that may not be easy to resolve in big organisations. For instance, what happens when the company goes through difficult times and who will champion the company’s values? What about the Holacracy Constitution that may take away individuality. Can it scale up to larger company? Can employees manage their career? All these questions can be answered negatively.
Keeping or losing the leadership role may be a question that needs answering. Based on the Holacracy’s model, it may be not wise to remove the CEO’s role completely. We have to ask ourselves what is the primary importance of leadership that needs to be retained? So, what is important to keep that may be lost in the older or more modern models of leadership? Here follow a few points that illustrates why leadership is important:
· Vision (the ability to have a clear and exciting idea of where an enterprise is going and what it is accomplishing).
· Courage (willing to take risks in the achievement of the company’s goals with no assurance of success – living on the edge).
· Integrity (always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business).
· Humility (Leaders are willing to admit they could be wrong, that they recognise that they may not have all the answers. This also means to acknowledge others when credit is due).
· Strategic planning (Leaders are outstanding at strategic planning, knowing what will happen next in their industries).
· Focus (Leaders focus on the company’s needs and the situation. They focus on results, on what must be achieved by themselves, by others, and by the company. Great leaders focus on strengths, in themselves and in others).
· Cooperation (Leaders understand that everyone working and pulling together is essential to their successes).
As there is a need for the CEO to play out, we need then to look at other company models that may be more adequate for today’s social and political needs. This is where a new leadership philosophy is emerging: Quantum Leadership. This new approach, that has been championed by many modern philosophers such as Danah Zohar, will transcend all the issues of the older models, keep the good values of the older models and introduce more humanistic features. Instead of changing structures, this new approach looks at transforming the organisation in a more fundamental way. It also defines leadership qualities, under a new light, that are as follows:
· Listening (Leaders must have complete focus on others, listening and reflecting on any subjects brought to them or raised by themselves).
· Empathy (Leaders strives to understand and empathize with others).
· Healing (Leaders have potential for healing one’s self and one’s relationship to others)
· Awareness (Leaders can demonstrate that they fully understand issues involving ethics, power, and values).
· Persuasion (Leaders relay on persuasion, rather than on their positional authority, in making decisions within their organisations. They seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance).
· Conceptualisation (Leaders seek to nurture their abilities to dream great dreams and to encompass broader-based conceptual thinking).
· Foresight (Leaders foresee the likely outcome of a situation that may be hard to define, but easier to identify).
· Stewardship (Leaders assume first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others. Thus, emphasising the use of openness and persuasion, rather than control).
· Commitment to the Growth of People (Leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers).
· Building Community (Leaders sense that much has been lost in recent human history as a result of the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives. Leader seek to identify some means for building community among those who work within a given institution. True community can therefore be created among those who work in businesses and other institutions).
With Quantum leadership, companies are organised in self-sufficient groups. But contrary to Self-Organising and Holacracy models, each group has its own leader and vision. A singular company therefore becomes a group of companies with each one of them having reasonability for its own budget, employees, procurement, research, deliveries, etc…. in other word, for its own destiny. Such a company is very dynamic and thrives on complete awareness of its parts, its functions and prospects. Each leader keeps the coherence of the group and be the interface with the overall leader who has become the vision keeper. This institutes a culture of cooperation of the highest standard as groups are working in harmony with each other, always ready to provide the expertise and assistance that may be required within their work community. Each group is working in an open system where each one of them is connected to the complete company. No more pyramidal structure is in place but an interactive structure where every part is connected to all the others. Information freely flows in this model.
This management approach delivers some aspects of self-organising and Holacracy models without their inconveniences. Also, the issues related to the older models are completely addressed and resolved as complete transparency prevails.
Business leaders have also a great responsibility as in view of the failure of countries’ governments introducing adequate, moral and ethical society transformation. They must show the way forward how excellence in management and government can be delivered and maintained. The qualities of a business quantum leader must also become the quality of a government officials. Governments as much as companies running on that model will be able to facilitate the construction of a new world based on real democracy that will be championing education and care as its core values. Quantum leaders will become the world saving political leaders of tomorrow.