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As One Summary: Individual Action, Collective Power

This is a As One Summary.
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In a Tweet

Successful organizations align 1 of 8 leadership styles for different strategic goals. {tweet this}

In 2 Minutes

Management consultant Mehrdad Baghai and former Deloitte global CEO James Quigley, writing with top Deloitte managers, relate widely diverse stories to show how leaders interact with followers. They draw eight leadership models of collaboration – each of which is proven to work in the right circumstances, and each of which can be applied to organizations today.

Leaders and followers should work “as one” in a unit, to solve problems. Eight archetypes describe successful leader/follower relationships:

  1. Landlord and tenants: The leader controls a resource others want.
  2. Community organizer and volunteers: In a reversal of power, leaders inspire, but followers set the agenda and act.
  3. Conductor and orchestra: A leader sets rules; followers offer their “personal best.”
  4. Producer and creative team: The organization gives a team of experts and innovators the resources and the creative freedom to meet the producer’s goals.
  5. General and soldiers: The leader’s “mission” and the followers’ sense of security  depend on clarity, hierarchy, and command and control.
  6. Architects and builders: Architects ask a team of diverse but interdependent builders to bring their blueprint to life in clearly defined stages.
  7. Captain and team: Captains inform the team and help it adapt to change.
  8. Senator and citizens: Like-minded people work together as a community, choosing to observe the same “constitution.” Their leader is a mentor, not a dictator.

As One Summary

As One Summary
As One Summary

Research and discussion about leadership skills tend to center on a leader’s qualities and to pay little attention to followers and what motivates them to contribute and succeed. Organizations are likely to fail when they suffer a “disconnect” between leadership styles and strategic goals – and between prevailing and preferred ways of working. For people to reach their full potential, leaders and followers need to work as a collective a single organism united for a common purpose. Examples from politics, business and the not-for-profit sector suggest eight models or archetypes of collective leadership. Spanning command-and-control and laissez-faire leadership formats – and hybrids of the two – these models offer a taxonomy for “As One” behaviors.

1. Landlord and Tenants

Under this model, a leader’s power rests in a valuable or scarce asset, which the leader, or landlord, controls from the top down.

Followers agree to the landlord’s rules in return for access to the asset or resource. Apple’s App Store typifies the relationship. Apple contracts with independent developers to create apps for the iPhone and iPad and sells them through its online store. It splits the earnings 30/70, giving the a share to the developer. Strict rules – no porn, no distribution outside the App Store and no disclosure of sales terms – keep Apple in control. Developers (like tenants) accept the arrangement because it gives them access to millions of buyers and, given the 30/70 split, they also gain a chance to get rich. These characteristics distinguish the landlord and tenant model:


  • Landlords gain structural advantage through control of a power base: Union boss Walter Reuther used his major asset, labor, to force US carmakers (the tenants) to accept union demands in the 1950s.
  • Landlords articulate the overall direction and strategy: With funding of $60 billion, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s largest philanthropic organization. Perhaps the greatest benign landlord, it uses its power and influence to attract institutions and scholars to its projects.
  • Landlords…define and reinforce the rules: They “set precedents and resolve conflicts.” Firms must follow 6,000 rules to stay on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Landlords reward “the best performing tenants: Walmart promises that suppliers who agree to its terms will benefit from a high volume of business.
  • Landlords gain more power as they get more tenants: Rupert Murdoch provides access to what advertisers want most: media. The more print space or broadcast spots they buy, the more Murdoch’s empire grows.

2. Community Organizer and Volunteers

In this model, leaders and their followers work more as an “ecosystem” than as a formal organization. The leader has a compelling vision that inspires people to act. Consider the Linux open-source movement. Engineer Linus Torvalds built a community of developers dedicated to improving the kernel of his operating system, an open source alternative to Windows. Torvalds allowed people to profit from their contributions, provided they kept the source code open to all. As a result, he won the support of major corporations such as Dell, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Nokia. By 2010, the Linux ecosystem was worth an estimated $40 billion. Participants in this model have these traits:

  • Volunteers are independent decision makers: The Visa credit card system unites autonomous banks into a “chaordic” – both chaotic and orderly – organization.
  • Volunteers…opt into campaigns case by case:  To keep followers motivated, community organizers actively engage them, treat each one equally, and show all of them that their opinions and passions matter.
  • Community organizers…use narratives to motivate the volunteers: Barack Obama channelled his personal story into a message of hope and change.
  • Community organizers’ power increases as the number of volunteers grows:  When the Nazis ordered the extradition of the Jews from all occupied territories, the Danish king, Christian X, refused to comply, and, one by one, the Danes followed his example. The Danes offered more than 7,000 Jews refuge from their persecutors or helped them escape to neighboring Sweden.

3. Conductor and Orchestra

An orchestra’s goal is to play a musical score flawlessly. The conductor must help the musicians meet the highest standards. In this model, followers conform to strict guidelines that cut the risks of mistakes. This archetype is commonly found in the healthcare sector. For example, at Medco Health Solutions, the pharmacy benefits manager provides 1,000 specially trained pharmacists with tools and technologies to prevent medication- dispensing errors. Medco’s expertise and emphasis on precision and quality have helped make it the world’s “largest mail-order pharmacy.” This model’s key characteristics are:

  1. Orchestra members have clearly defined roles and tasks: FedEx Ground relies on 15,000 independent contractors to deliver more than 3.5 million items each day; “task clarity” means each driver can earn money based on the number of deliveries.
  2. Musicians follow “detailed and scripted processes: Conductors encourage people to pursue their interests and hone their skills, but not at the cost of other members. The orchestra must be greater than the sum of its parts.
  3. Musicians undergo extensive training and orientation to perform with precision: Only when you master the basics of your craft can you enjoy the freedom of creativity.
  4. Compliance and incentives are closely related: People continue to y with Ryanair and comply with its rules because its low-cost basic fare acts as an incentive.

4. Producer and Creative Team

On a movie set or in a theater, a producer takes care of the “big picture” and lets innovative, independent artists put on a show, harnessing, not unbridling, creativity. Cirque du Soleil’s scouts search worldwide for unusual creative artists for its productions. Its huge pool of employees and performers creates unique, crowd-pleasing spectacles through discipline and hard work: training “boot camps” push performers to their limit; taking a show from “page” to stage can involve years of work. This model’s primary traits are:

  • Producers articulate an overall goal, the creative team brings it to life: Despite often toiling in anonymity, producers create the vision that guides the team.
  • Members complement the rest of the team: The Mayo Clinic, one of the best hospitals in the US, expands or reassembles surgical teams as cases demand.
  • The creative team has complete freedom: Following an illness, Star Wars creator George Lucas had to cede directorial control of The Empire Strikes Back; the film was later acclaimed as the best in the series.
  • Leaders use dissent to push the creative boundaries of the team: Bridgewater Associates investment managers invite their colleagues to criticize their proposals harshly as part of a mutual effort to produce the best plans for clients.
  • The creative team collaborates closely: To foster participation, creative teams usually have a broad set of skills but relatively few members.

5. General and Soldiers

Under this command-and-control archetype, leaders expect people to do specific, assigned tasks that show their place in the hierarchy. The structure of the model, however, is supportive not oppressive. “Soldiers” use their training and experience to advance through the ranks. At the Marriott Hotels, entry-level employers do routine tasks but have a chance for promotion. The company runs an English program to increase opportunities for nonnative English speakers. For example, Mexican Sara Redwell began as a housekeeper but retired as a hotel general manager. This model’s characteristics are:

  • Generals take charge of a mission: Patriarchs in the “Bamboo Network” run expatriate Chinese family businesses in Asia, creating huge industrial complexes.
  • Leaders clearly define…roles, processes and tasks: Baristas at Starbucks train rigorously, so each outlet offers the same service.
  • The organizational model relies on hierarchy and rank: Multilevel marketing networks, such as health care, beauty and homecare specialist Amway, organize their sellers into ranks and offer motivational awards. The more people independent business owners recruit to sell products, the greater their chances of promotion.
  • Training is highly specialized: Jesuit priests spend spend 10 years in study, training, religious retreat and charitable work before taking their last vows. Uniforms and rituals reinforce…common identity” – Boot camp unites soldiers.

6. Architect and Builders

The architect is a leader with a vision who relies on the skills, ingenuity and creativity of others to bring it to life. Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s Tata Group, typifies the architect. He dreamed of producing a car that would sell for $2,500. To do so, he had to win the support of his suppliers. His company used minimalist design and innovative production processes to bring the Tata Nano, the Indian “people’s car,” to life.

  • Architects are visionaries with a goal that seems an impossible: Shai Agassi, founder of Better Place, wants to “change the world” by building a global energy network for electric cars.
  • Architects unite a team: Builders need skills and commitment to realize their dream.
  • “Revolutionary” problem solving is critical: Capital One saw credit cards as information,  not as banking and pioneered the balance-transfer service.
  • Builders have “freedom within a frame: They can be creative, but they must meet the architect’s goals on time.
  • Builders…are interdependent links in a chain: Architects must make sure that they see the bigger picture and don’t work in isolation from each other.

7. Captain and Sports Team

The followers in this model abide by the game’s rules but make strategic decisions during the match. The captain isn’t the boss so much as first among equals; team members work on the field, assessing the game and conveying information to their teammates. Mumbai’s 5,000 dabbawalas, or “lunchbox men,” act as a highly coordinated, dynamic unit. They punctually and consistently deliver 200,000 hot meals a day – handing over lunchboxes to colleagues at set relay points. Their low failure rate – one lunch in 16 million, or one in 60 days – has earned them Six Sigma certification. The key characteristics of this model are:

  • Recruits primarily join to meet their personal goals: The person wants to excel, but within the team’s “strong sense of shared identity” and “pride.”
  • There is minimal hierarchy and sometimes no clear leader: The captain serves as the team’s “mouthpiece” and coordinator.
  • Tasks and processes are clearly denied: And “internal communications are extensive.” When players are tuned in to one another, the team operates as one unit.
  • Strategy emerges gradually: Training prepares people; it doesn’t provide a how-to manual. For example, registers must adapt in a moment to changing conditions.

8. Senator and Citizens

Using this model, citizens unite to help their community, bound together by shared values. As their representative, the senator wields minimal power. Design and engineering company W.L. Gore & Associates eschews titles and organizational charts. People work in ad hoc teams that coalesce and disband as needed. “Sponsors,” not bosses, guide projects; the company lets its employees select work that interests them and tolerates mistakes “above the waterline” – errors that puncture the boat but won’t sink it. This model’s main traits are:

  1. A constitution enshrines the principles and values that govern the citizens: The senator safeguards the tenets of a mission statement.
  2. Citizens voluntarily join the community: Harley Davidson motorcycle riders enjoy being HOGs, members of the Harley Owners Group.
  3. Autonomy is a fundamental right, and participation is a core responsibility: Citizens trust that their constitution and system make sure the right behaviour and they believe that dissenting voices give to improving processes.
  4. The community only functions if the structure is fluid and adaptive: Japan’s Kyocera, a manufacturer of electronics components, encourages using “amoebas,” or small working groups, to resolve issues.
  5. Communities can be both physical and virtual: The Internet and social networks can help Senator & Citizens communities.

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