Business Leaders in Glorious Transition

The entire world is in transition: Business must transition, too.

Here, you'll read contributions of my friends, other business professionals who are working to turn from their Mechanical Business Models to ever more profitable Organic Business Models.

You'll read their successes as well as their difficulties in making the transition from the hierarchical, control based practices characteristic of most of our years in business. You'll see how wonderfully profitable companies can be when they learn to tap the powerful creative energy of employees.

CJ Coolidge & Richard Squaredime - 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Informal Leader - A Silent Force

After reflecting on the positive impact Anne Mulcahy had on Xerox, I continued to explore new trends in succession planning. I found that most major corporations do a decent job preparing a formal plan. It's a warm and fuzzy contingency plan that satisfies the appetites of board members, investors, regulators, and key clients. It serves its purpose and typically delivers in a time of need. Corporations and small businesses alike, continue to formally develop key Executives, grooming and shaping them for their role of legitimate and coercive power.

Every organization needs leaders. What about those leaders who have referent power and just enough data to be dangerous; The "mid-level" manager who answers the difficult questions for you in a time of crisis, the virtual deflector of executive decision-making? This silent force has spent a prolific amount time developing personal trust with their subordinates. They have the power to infectiously spread their adaptation of company decisions based on their knowledge and attitude. You have empowered them, but do they have the acumen, network and alignment of culture? What have you done to proactivly arm this force?

Michelle Petersen is the President of Strategic Learning Solutions, a National Company dedicated to the development of human capital.


Diane Hamilton, Ph.D. said...

As a business professor and writer, Michelle has touched on exactly what I discuss in my classroom. The Peter Principle exists in all of its glory in today's work place. In other words: In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. Incompetence could include inability to deliver on many levels.

Michelle Petersen said...

The mentioned "Peter Principle" was conceptualized by a Canadian Sociologist named Dr. Laurence J. Peter, who in my mind, points out the shortfalls of bureaucratic organizations and their inability to properly develop formal leaders; citing in his very entertaining book that "employees within an organization will advance to their highest level of competence and then be promoted to and remain at a level at which they are incompetent."

You're right Diane; this is a highly recognized concept in the OD world that could benefit many companies today. I'm happy to hear that you are discussing it with our future leaders!