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MORE on Leaders’ Responsibilities in a Management-less Model

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

Part 5 in the ‘Leadership Without Management: Pipe Dream or Viable Model?’ Series

To get you up to speed, in the previous posts we have described a business model that focuses on leadership 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 finish that list and the series.

We take it as given that leaders are responsible for quality, profitability, performance and all other aspects of a company’s success. But in a management-less model, leaders do much more than delegate. Here are some of the things leaders need to do to ensure the success of this model.

Acting as a resource is an important responsibility. Your leadership team represents expertise in different areas, and each leader should be available to anyone in the organization with a question or issue. Team members shouldn’t have to go through channels to ask the CEO a question. Make sure people know to whom they should go for different topics.

But leaders shouldn’t simply feed people answers. Instead, they should help team members grow by guiding them to discover answers for themselves. Sometimes the answer is straightforward, but in some cases the answer may be within the person asking the question. Often traditional managers aren’t empowered to help a team member find those answers within — this is the domain of leadership.

Leaders need to listen to the silence, to listen for what is NOT being said. In a recent blog Kathy Marshall, DT’s Director of Recruitment Quality, wrote that the most valuable feedback often is unspoken. As a leader you need to use your EQ as you talk with team members to identify when something is going unspoken. And every once in a while, reach out to team members and ask, “What’s up? What’s bugging you?” If you have to, offer total amnesty in exchange for total honesty!

Leaders are also responsible for delivering the tools that team members need to be effective. You know what we mean: systems, access to resources, etc. But the people who know BEST what is needed are the team members themselves, so leaders need to keep asking, “What will make it easier for you to delight our clients?” In this and many other areas, leaders need to be creative and to encourage creativity around them to find new ways of being efficient and effective.

In our model, motivating the team focuses on helping team members tap into their passion for quality service and performance. Often this means encouraging people to be bold, to step out of their comfort zone. Jeff Bloch, DT’s Chief Growth Officer, wrote about this in his recent blog on cultivating one’s “heartspace.” A leader who can inspire people to stretch, to try new things and discover new strengths is well on the way to the next point . . .

Leaders develop leaders, but the key is to help team members bring forward the leader that is already within them. For example, if a team member is interested in taking on a leadership role, let them develop the role for themselves. Trust that team member and give him or her the autonomy to explore. Provide support when necessary, of course, but developing a role is also an exercise in developing leadership skills. The team member should feel a heightened sense of responsibility and ownership, and the role will be a better “fit” because it is based on the his or her unique talents.

We recognize that there is a good deal of idealism in this model, but a vision shouldn’t aim low. Running a company using leadership but NOT management is not always easy, but it is always rewarding on many levels.

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

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One Response to “MORE on Leaders’ Responsibilities in a Management-less Model”

  1. October 17, 2013 at 7:02 am, Leaders’ Responsibilities in a Management-less Model | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

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


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