Print This Post Print This Post

Corporate grade, reporting lines and membership of leadership teams in organisations often go together. But unbundling these components is a healthy exercise and a powerful rule in the maths of change.

If you report to Joe – CEO, divisional director or country manager – chances are you share this with another eight or ten people who constitute Joe’s management team, executive committee or leadership team. This is what the organisation chart says. Most management teams are formed by what the organisation chart dictates; by an ‘accidental’ reporting line. Everybody reporting to Joe is de facto a member of his management team.

In medium-sized or large corporations, structures are very often cross- or multi-functional. Imagine a Business Unit composed of a large Sales function, a smaller Marketing function and then a series of support functions such as HR, Finance, Legal, IT and perhaps a very small Strategy Team. The leadership team of that Unit is bound to be composed of the Director of Sales, the Director of Marketing, the Finance Controller, Legal counsel, the Head of IT and the Head of the Strategy Team. I suggest that this happened by default, by the dictation of the organisation chart and that nobody ever questioned it.

But a legitimate question may be, “does everybody need to be part of that leadership team?” Many people in business organisations would of course say ‘no’. But the way we sometimes solve the issue is by promotion/demotion. For example, we may say only directors are really part of the management team. This is managing by grade, not by brain and it’s not what I am suggesting.

Grade in the corporate structure (VP, director, manager, head) should not be a criterion of membership of a particular leadership team. Membership should be by invitation only. And only those who are in a capacity to add value to the role – whether they are in charge of a large part of the cake or not – should be invited.

It may be that, on reflection, the leadership team of the above Business Unit example should be composed of the Director of Marketing, the Director of Sales, the Head of HR and two country managers who do not report directly to the top leader of the Business Unit, but who are called upon to serve on that leadership team.

There may be alternative arrangements, but the principle is one of ‘by invitation only’. A principle that forces you to stop taking for granted the fact that membership will happen automatically or that grade or rank are a form of entitlement. It may be counterintuitive at first, but it is very effective. Much of the counterintuitive aspect comes from the fact that we tend to have pre-conceived ideas about how the organisation should work. Sometimes these ideas carry flawed assumptions:

  1. We must be inclusive. Yes, I agree but it is inclusiveness by invitation. If people feel the need to have all the direct reports together from time to time or, indeed, on a regular basis, they could have some sort of ‘Staff Committee’ (of all direct reports) if there were reasons for them to meet. But Staff Committee is not the same as a leadership team.
  2. We must be fair. That assumes that all reporting lines to Joe are equal. In the above example it may have been considered unfair to the Financial Controller not to include him in the leadership team. There is nothing unfair about a selection made on transparent grounds. Inclusiveness and so-called fairness sometimes result in gross unfairness to the group, because the artificial composition makes the team ineffective or highly unbalanced.
  3. We must be democratic. Democracy is a form of government, not a type of organisation (unless you work for a company that ballots everybody to elect a CEO!).

When you question management team compositions for the first time and, de facto, try to unbundle corporate grades, leadership and reporting lines, you will encounter some negative reactions and a few puzzled faces. But once this has been accepted as a legitimate questioning of the status quo, a breeze of healthy fresh air will start to flow through your organisation!

Something that you may want to try as a model to follow is the Board of Directors. Though there are some differences between countries, a Board of Directors in public companies is usually composed of a few executives and some non-executive directors, who are either representing some shareholder sector or participating as members on their own capacity, background, experience or particular expertise. We have accepted this kind of designed composition as normal when it comes to the Board, but this is far from common for executive and leadership committees. But there is no reason why you could not mirror this, unless you want to stick to the default position because, “we have never done it like that.”

(From Disruptive Ideas, book, practice and Accelerator)

Keep up with the Daily Thoughts

Twitter Email

Would you like to comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To search my website, please use the form below.

  Daily Thoughts

September 27th, 2023

Redefining Talent Wealth

The war on talent McKinsey consultants started it with a book of the same title. By focusing on what it […]

September 8th, 2023

What I Learnt From The Monks: A Little Anthropology Of Leadership And Space On One Page

My friends, monks of a Benedictine monastery in the Highlands, Scotland, spend most of the time in silence. I mean, […]

August 23rd, 2023

Can We Rescue DEI From Its Trap (The Label)?

Most of the problems and challenges in organizations, together with most of the solutions, are behavioural in nature. It’s about […]

August 10th, 2023

Restructuring to force collaboration, is likely to create more anxiety than collaboration. Structural solutions for behavioural problems hardly work.

Sometimes restructuring is done with the intention of solving a collaboration problem. ´A people´ don’t talk to ´B people´; if […]

July 18th, 2023

The ‘Impossible To Disagree With’ School Of Management

‘Good leaders have empathy, respect employees and set the example. If you want to change things, you need to have […]

June 29th, 2023

Large scale change is not small scale change repeated many times. Small wins repeated are lots of small wins.

Large scale change, as a series of cascading small scale interventions (often under the philosophy of ‘small wins’) has dominated […]

June 6th, 2023

Culture change is not long and difficult. But we make it so…

I suppose the question is how long is long and how difficult is difficult? In general, business and organizational consulting have […]

May 19th, 2023

Value is an overused term in business and, as such, it’s becoming meaningless

Value, as usually used, means transactional monetary value. Usually it doesn’t mean intrinsic value, or value per se. For example, […]

May 4th, 2023

The importance of ‘critical thinking.’ Your own critical thinking is more effective at making your workplace better than any generic employee survey.

Build your own Employee Engagement argument for free. You can’t go wrong. Here are three baskets full of concepts: Basket […]

April 21st, 2023

´Busy-Ness’ Is A Trap

I went to a big conference where I was introduced by the chairman like this: “Welcome everybody. Lovely to have […]

April 14th, 2023

Training and culture change. The love affair that ends in tears.

It seems to be very hard for people to get away from the idea that if we just put individuals […]

April 11th, 2023

Teamocracies and Networkracies have different citizens: in-Habitants in team-work, riders in net-work

The old view of the organization is something close to the old concept of a medieval city, where citizenship was […]

April 5th, 2023

3 Ways To Get Approval From Your CEO Or Your Leadership Team

Way number 1: My team has developed these three options, A, B and C. Which one do you want us […]

March 29th, 2023

A Cheat Sheet To Create A Social Movement Tip = to shape organizational culture since both are the same.

Mobilizing people. This is another of the Holy Grails (how many have I said we have?) in management. Whether you […]

March 16th, 2023

Critical Thinking Self-Test: A 10 Point Health Check For Your Organization And Yourself. If any of these are a good picture of your organization, you need to put ‘critical thinking’ in the water supply.

Test yourself, and your organization. Do any of these apply? Doing lots, too fast without thinking. High adrenaline, not sure […]

March 9th, 2023

A culture of safety or a culture of training in safety?

Cultures are created by behaviours becoming the norm. Safety is at the core of many industries. Significant budgets are allocated […]

March 2nd, 2023

Empowerment is an output. If you can visualize it, you can craft it.

The real question is, what do you want to see happening so that you can say ‘people are empowered’? Employee […]

February 24th, 2023

A simple question will jumpstart your organization into change. It will also save you from months of pain spent reorganizing your people and teams.

The following line will short-cut months of (building) ‘alignment’, integration, reorganization, team building, coalition building, and any situation in which Peter, […]

February 20th, 2023

Lead Via Peer-To-Peer Networks – If you don’t lead via peer-to-peer networks, you’re only driving your car in first gear.

Peer-to-peer work, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is the […]

February 7th, 2023

Write a script, not a strategic plan

If you care about the journey and the place, you need a story. If you have a good, compelling one, […]

January 26th, 2023

3 self-sabotaging mechanisms in organizations

Organizations, like organisms, have embedded mechanisms of survival, of growth and also of self-sabotage. These are 3 self-sabotage systems to […]

January 10th, 2023

Who should be involved in culture change? All inclusive versus going where the energy is.

Many times, in my consulting work, I find myself facing a dilemma: Do I involve many people on the client’s […]

December 23rd, 2022

Tell what won’t change – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

In any change programme that any organization wants to start, they will start by thinking of the things that they […]

December 16th, 2022

Scale It – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

When creating effective change in any organization, there are 40 rules that, in my experience, are the key between success […]

December 5th, 2022

Assets & Strengths Base – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

For more than 30 years I have been involved in ‘change’ in organizations. Again and again, some fundamental principles, and often […]

November 25th, 2022

Campaign It… is 1 of my 40 rules of change

When you filter out the noise, when you try to extract the core, the fundamentals, those ‘universal rules’ of change […]

October 31st, 2022

Hybrid or not hybrid? That’s not the question…

Culture is the new workplace If you want to have a conversation about the future of work, the nature of […]

October 24th, 2022

‘Powered by Viral Change™’: A Social Transformation Platform for the organization of the 21st Century

When we started to work on Viral Change™, as a way to create large scale behavioural and cultural change, and […]

October 14th, 2022

Corporate tribes, intellectual ghettos and open window policies

We talk a lot about silos in organizations usually in the context of Business Units or divisions. But these are not […]

October 7th, 2022

Peer Networks are the strongest force of action inside the organization

Peer-to-peer works, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is […]