May 2, 2016 | Leadership

Last week, Dr. Tony Baron and I hosted The Re:Imagine Leadership Summit at The Centre in north San Diego County.  We spent the day sharing research from our upcoming book with the working title, Ditch the Pyramid: Reimagining Leadership for the 21st Century.  The big idea of the book is this:  while 72% of today’s leaders know that culture is extremely important to organizational performance, just 32% have aligned their culture with their business strategy.

A 2014 global study by Korn Ferry’s Hay Group division found that “driving culture change” ranked among the top three global leadership development priorities. There’s no doubt. Culture is the X-factor that makes the difference between whether an organization will succeed or fail in the market today.  Yet, while the need to make cultural changes is clear, the path is not.   

Technology has effectively collapsed the boundaries of time and space

Information is the new raw material. Performance today depends on our ability to turn information into knowledge and knowledge into service as quickly as possible.  Yet, most organizations still operate under the pyramid paradigm.  Culture change cannot begin until leaders recognize that the pyramid is still deeply embedded in their leadership psyche.  Until that mindset is changed, culture changes will fail.  Here are the top three reasons why leaders need to ditch the pyramid:

 

1. Acquiring and protecting power. People naturally want to learn, grow, and be their best both personally and professionally.  Under the pyramid model, people are forced to climb their way to the top, squeezing out others along the way.  Holding onto their positions requires leaders to continuously fight to acquire and protect their power.

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2. Limiting our circle of influence. A leader who is keen on acquiring and protecting power tends to build a team of direct reports who do not pose a threat to that power.  When our circle of influence is made up of people who want to keep their positions by pandering to our ego, our ability to access reality correctly is severely limited.

 

3. Operating in a paradigm of scarcity. As we work our way to the top of the pyramid, fewer and fewer positions are available. The pyramid shapes our paradigm of scarcity.  Scarcity begets fear.  We fear that someone will take our position.  We fear that we never have enough time.  We fear that if someone else wins, we lose. This creates stress, tension, and a drive for success as a destination that we continually struggle to reach.

Those are just three of the ten reasons we’ve identified about why we need to ditch the pyramid.  We invite you to follow our journey as we continue to share our findings and help leaders create a culture that can respond swiftly, communicate freely, and organize as a network of people motivated by a shared purpose.  Are you ready to reimagine leadership?

Question: Does the organization chart pictured look familiar to you?  Are you holding onto a position of rigidity? 

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