Peter Evans-Greenwood has had some good articles lately. This is from his latest, is your organisation irrelevant?
However, the environment we operate in today is a lot more fluid than the environment of the past, the environment where the vast bulk of our current organisational theory was formulated. Information flows much more rapidly than it used to while the world seems to change every year rather than every generation. The traditional static view of the organisation – one where it has a well defined and stable structure (someone leads, others follow, even if you’re leading from the bottom) – is starting to look a bit long in the tooth.
Leadership is no longer part of a job description: something anointed on the chosen few. Leadership is a role to be adopted when needed, and then passed on when the need has gone. It’s a dynamic thing, moving around the organisation, reshaping the organisation as it passes from individual to individual, team to team.
Leadership is an emergent property of a network in balance. In this post-information era, organizations need to really understand networks, manage for complexity, and work on building trust. But almost all workplace systems, in organizations of any size, are at cross purposes to this. Networks, for the most part, are seen as something relating only to the IT department. The constant demand for more controlled processes (compliance training, for example) fails to build resilience into the organization. Every time the organization deals with an exception using a standard method, and fails to account for the unique situation of the employee or customer, it erodes trust.
The answers are so simple they are ignored by minds numbed by +100 page reports that tell us nothing. Give people a job worth doing, the tools to do it, and recognition of a job well done. In a transparent, diverse & open organization, management can then get the hell out of the way. This is how organizations can remain relevant.