Think about at least five people who you would consider to be natural leaders. Why do you believe those people are natural leaders? Write your response in your journal.
The need to empower natural leaders isn't an HR pipedream, it's a competitive imperative. But before you can empower them, you have to find them.
In most companies, the formal hierarchy is a matter of public record – it's easy to discover who's in charge of what. By contrast, natural leaders don't appear on any organization chart. To hunt them down, you need to know . . .
Whose advice is sought most often on any particular topic? Who responds most promptly to requests from peers? Whose responses are judged most helpful? Who is most likely to reach across organizational boundaries to aid a colleague? Whose opinions are most valued, internally and externally? Who gets the most kudos from customers? Who's the most densely connected to other employees? Who's generating the most buzz outside the company? Who consistently demonstrates real thought leadership? Who seems truly critical to key decisions?
A lot of the data you need to answer these questions is lurking in the weeds of your company's email system or can be found on the Web. Nevertheless, it will take some creative effort and software tweaks to ferret it out.
A few suggestions...
There are other types of data that might also be useful – but you get the idea.
Sure, there are some practical challenges in collecting and analyzing this sort of data. But ultimately, it should be possible for a company to create a multivariate leadership score for every employee.
Obviously, the old top-down hierarchy isn't going to disappear any time soon. What would happen, though, if every employee had the chance to compete for leadership "points", whether or not they had a management job? What would happen if everyone's leadership score showed up in their online profile – so everyone knew how their colleagues ranked on expertise, helpfulness, collaboration, and thought leadership? What would happen if anyone could attach a public comment to a colleague's leadership score? What about including highly-rated "natural" leaders in every important decision meeting? And finally, what would happen if leadership points were considered in compensation and promotion decisions? I'm not sure, but I bet it would do more good than harm.
One thing's certain, though: we can't invent Management 2.0 without inventing some new ways for people to accumulate and exercise authority. In the tempestuous seas of today's creative economy, top-down leadership structures are fast becoming a liability. We need is a new currency of power – one based not on titles, but on every individual's capacity to lead, every day. We need fewer zero-sum battles for plum positions, in which Machiavellian maneuvering wins the day, and more positive-sum competition to increase one's personal leadership score – by delivering real value to colleagues and customers. We need a system that forces titled leaders to justify their positional power by competing in an open market for leadership esteem. And finally, we need organizations that aren't built around a single, dominant hierarchy but are comprised of many soft hierarchies, each corresponding to a critical skill or issue.
Source: Gary Hamel, http://www.managementexchange.com/blog/nine-ways-identify-natural-leaders
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