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“We” is At The Core Of Great Leadership

Source | Talent Culture : By Meghan M. Brio

As the American workplace continues to evolve, traditional leadership structures are dissolving. As a result, we’re beginning to see a shift from an “I” concept of leadership to a “We” concept. This is an example of holocracy, which is making inroads in supplanting the hierarchical organizational structures of yesterday, and it’s an interesting shift.

What is holocracy? Well, it’s a management structure that brings discipline and structure to a peer-to-peer workplace, with the goals of achieving maximum creative expression while emphasizing accountability. So, how do leaders lead effectively in this new landscape? How do they get buy-in from their teams without being able to mandate it? Let’s explore.

The fact that we have five generations in the workplace for the first time in history compounds the challenges of 21st century leadership. Those challenges can be addressed by remaining ever mindful that the We concept of leadership is personified by the collective efforts of teams to make things happen, which is the basic premise of holocracy. But what does that look like in real work life?

The We concept of leadership is personified by the collective efforts of teams to make things happen, which is the basic premise of holocracy.

An Example of We Leadership

When Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson created Basecamp in 1999 (then called 37Signals), they had no idea it would become a hugely successful company spanning 32 cities around the globe.

As Basecamp grew, Fried and Heinemeier Hansson stayed true to their principles, sticking mostly with a flat organizational structure where each employee has the autonomy to choose what they work on, and has equal ownership over and a say in what’s created and delivered to customers. The culture at Basecamp is a perfect example of a collaborative leadership environment, with a focus on the “We” instead of the “I.” Fried describes it as follows:

“What we learned is that adding a dedicated manager and creating a hierarchy is not the only way to create structure. Instead, we decided to let the team be entirely self-managed. There’s still a team leader, but that role rotates among the team every week. Each week, a new leader sketches out the agenda, writes up the notes about problems and performance, and steps up to handle any troubled-customer interactions.”

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