Working with Inflexible Leadership – Nu Leadership Series

“ The masses are in reality their own leaders, dialectically creating their own development process.”
Rosa Luxemburg

Many organizations suffer from inflexible strategies. Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel, authors of Strategy Safari, denote definitions and different schools of strategy. The first three schools focus on how strategies should be formed. In these schools, one person is primary strategist. For this discussion, let’s focus on this strategy where one person is the single organization mastermind. I’ve seen this mindset implemented in many large, bureaucratic organizations. There can be problems.

When one person is solely in charge of an organization’s strategy, workers become passive participants as they watch reorganizations and new management initiatives start. Many strategies simply fail without worker involvement. It is my assessment that these initiatives suffer because knowledgeable workers aren’t involved. What’s the root cause? Most senior managers believe they are smarter than their staff. Wacker, Taylor, and Means, authors of The Visionary ‘s Handbook, argue that present and future planning (duality) create tension in manager-employee relationships. Managers try to anticipate future outcomes while managing day-to-day obligations.

Hamel and Prahalad, authors of Competing for the Future, explain that substantial challenges face organizations that try to compete first in the future. The following challenges are highlighted: (a) how to navigate to the future with no road map, (b) how to oppose the forces of institutional entropy, and (c) how to prevent individual estrangement that makes top management’s shortsightedness costly. Therefore, effective leaders need to be flexible in their strategic approach and seek to empower their workers.

References:

Hamel, G., & Prahalad, C. (1994). Competing for the Future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Mintzberg, H. Ahlstrand, B. & Lampel, J. (1998). Strategy Safari. New York: The Free Press.

Wacker, W., Taylor, J., & Means, H. (2000). The Visionary’s Handbook. New York: HarperBusiness.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green