02 Oct Leading From The Bottom Up
Guest Post by Transform 2013 Presenter, Susan Mazer.
The pyramid is the common model for company leadership. However, turning it upside down is the magical way an organization can grow into its potential.
In a small company, department, or committee, the actual distance from the top to the bottom is often small. And, the top of the pyramid is clearly a lonely place to be.
Is a pyramid so fixed in space that the person at the top has to be only one person?
In our company, I learned long ago that I did best leading, guiding, and taking stock when I was part of the bottom and allowed others to rise to the top. To breathe with the collective energy and pace of the team, the top has to be a changeable role.
Our staff has long been weened from management-led momentum. Rather, it is clear that they each drive the mission because it has become their mission, one at a time, from the heart.
This is how it works.
When we started the company 22 years ago, the top and bottom were sitting on each other. As we built our team, we had to make room for more ideas and also consider the gait and pace of each new person. Growth changed the form.
I knew from the start that each person who joined our company had an innate expertise that he or she was in charge of. Individuals are at the top of their own pyramid, needing support from the bottom. And they continually educate me so I can make sound decisions to support the growth that only they envision from where they sit.
It's not that I don't know what's going on. But no CEO can know what his or her employees know. And no manager can know fully the challenges going on in the field.
What have I learned?
I have learned that if you do your work openly, continually, and consistently; transfer knowledge and insights; and, most critically, match responsibility with accountability; your company with thrive. And, leadership is spread and shared.
Prior to this, we studied Peter Senge's work and declared ourselves to be a Learning Organization. And, we have consistently sourced these models to guide us, taking what resonates with our culture and goals.
Finally, I learned to not get caught up in the nonsense that goals and successes are only verified by a quarterly report. Financial success is ultimately the outcome of a great company, not the reverse.
The stability that exists and is needed at the bottom of the pyramid allows an organization to create a shared vision at the top. Each member of your team can own a part of the top while you fertilize the talent at the bottom.
Leadership can be manifested in the whole organization rather than in one person.
Susan E. Mazer, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of Healing HealthCare Systems, producers of The C.A.R.E. Channel. A knowledge expert and thought leader on how the environment of care impacts the patient experience, she blogs atwww.healinghealth.com. Susan is also a professional jazz harpist. Her latest CD, "Amethyst" is available on iTunes.