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Leaders’ Responsibilities in a Management-less Model

By Loren Miner, COO, and Nicole Cox, CRO
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Part 4 of the ‘Leadership Without Management:  Pipe Dream or Viable Model?’ Series

In the first three parts of this series (in case you missed them:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) we laid out a general blueprint for running an organization using leadership but not management. We covered the why, looked at some practical applications and explored accountability. In Parts 4 and 5 we’ll look at some of the more important responsibilities for leaders in the absence of traditional management.

In many respects the responsibilities are similar to those of senior leaders in any organizational model: product and service excellence, profitability, risk management, etc. But here we want to focus on leaders’ internal-facing responsibilities — what leaders need to do for team members to make the managementless model thrive. Of course the client comes first, but how can you exceed client expectations if your house is not in order? We’ve identified seven responsibilities we believe to be most important, and in this post we’ll cover the first three.

Sharing insight should come as no surprise: in any philosophy of leadership leaders are expected to have expertise that drives innovation and opportunity. But in addition to knowing the market and the customers, leaders should also have strong insight into the talents, aspirations and challenges of their own teams. Now take it up a notch: if a leader can help individual team members gain insight into their own motives and habits, that will help those team members grow and develop.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to do it. Try the Socratic method: instead of telling a team member something, ask them questions. Push her or him to step back and think about things in a whole new way. Chances are, you’ll discover a thing or two about yourself in the process.

The idea of nurturing community may make some uncomfortable (hard to put numbers around it!), but every organization is a community. Leadership provides the general values for the community, such as excellence, commitment to a shared vision and so on. But leaders also need to understand that the community is a living, breathing organism made up of the interactions among unique individuals. The personality of the community is constantly changing. The leader’s mission is not to control it, but to channel its energies.

Within DT’s virtual model this is especially important — with very little face-to-face interaction among team members, we are proactive about creating opportunities for team members to interact. For example, every Recruitment Partner (RP) is part of a “pod,” a group of three or four RPs who hold regular teleconferences to share challenges, successes and ideas.

Nurturing community is not possible without creating an atmosphere of trust. It’s hard for most of us to give up control, and letting the community morph and evolve under its own power can seem scary. But assuming you have hired talented people who share the company’s vision, you need to trust them and they need to trust you. Some important aspects of an atmosphere of trust:

  • Keep it authentic and transparent, including embracing your mistakes and learning from them. This makes it easier for employees to come to you with their mistakes.
  • Leverage conflict to find solutions. Conflict transforms!
  • Tell people why. If you just tell people what to do, it’ll probably get done. But if people know why they’re doing it, they will have a stronger sense of ownership, which leads to a greater sense of pride.
  • Keep your sense of humor handy. Do we need to say more?

Next up: more responsibilities of leadership, including delivering the tools and developing new leaders.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, send us an email – we’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to “Leaders’ Responsibilities in a Management-less Model”

  1. October 03, 2013 at 6:49 am, Accountability and Servant Leadership | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] is a two-way street, and Servant Leadership ensures that leaders hold up their end. In Part 4 we’ll discuss some of the specific responsibilities that leaders are accountable for in our […]


  2. October 17, 2013 at 6:16 am, MORE on Leaders’ Responsibilities in a Management-less Model | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] without management, including the pros and cons, applications and the issue of accountability. In Part 4 we started on the more significant responsibilities that leaders bear in this model, and here we […]


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