The Real War, Organizational Structure vs. Corporate Strategy
For any business to successfully deliver value, it’s strategy and organizational structure must be woven together seamlessly. Simply said; the organisational structures need to be designed to meet the strategy not vice versa. Many companies are failing to meet their goals and grow their business because of a cult leadership structure. It worked for Apple, but most businesses are not Apple and most “C” level executives are not Steve Jobs who empowered all his employees to make a difference.
The most dangerous effect of the way we paint “C” level and senior level executives as storybook characters is that we start believing it. We see the language of business has become ever more cultish where only “Thought Leaders” can drive business and the idea that only they possess uniquely valuable personal skills and qualities. They believe their own hype. The result is that they’re rejecting the advice, however sensible, of subordinates on the front lines, and firing or eliminating the positions of anyone who dares to stand up to them.
The problem is that once in the cult of “thought leadership” (has taken on evangelical overtones) “C” level executives and senior managers are running the business as secondary to working on growing the company and profits. And looking for certain characteristics in our business leaders perpetuates and accelerates the problem. This is no way to run a company of any size.
The question is should the CEO’s office be filled only by people who have not been on the ground, face to face with customers, or on the sales floor in years? The answer is no. Today successful business leadership is driven by small groups of entrepreneurial founders and front line workers much more in the style of a fellowship. Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, shows that teamwork based leadership makes for success. Where work becomes a place where employees may live and work.
Dennis Tourish in his book, The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective, points out that it’s taken for granted that that leaders should have much more power than followers to decide what needs to be done. Dennis Tourish makes the case by illustrating how such approaches can encourage narcissism, megalomania and poor decision-making on the part of “C” level executives and senior management, at great expense to the businesses they are managing.
Leadership is emotional. It is all about bringing all the stakeholders to a common purpose. It is not just about one person, one way of thinking or doing things, but it starts with one person.