Leadership Development

NO “BOSSES”….including NO CEO?




Could it work?


Could a company exist without a hierarchy where EVERYONE’S job is considered critical to the overall success of the company? In others words your “BOSS” would be your work….your performance review would be based solely on your work. Who conducts the “Performance Review”? EVERYONE!


Now, full disclosure I like “Hierarchy” I like the “Buck stops with me” mantra I like the ability to go to 1 person and say “What happen”, so before someone accuses me of “Marxism” please hear me out. In the past few years I’ve been forced to really take an inventory of who I want to be when I grow up….yes I still have a lot of growing to do. A major part of that growth is this whole idea of being a “BOSS”, “leading people up the hill to victory” ……and all that General Patton garbage. I’ve had leadership/“BOSS” positions and to this day grateful and humbled to have had those opportunities, but honestly I never saw me as their “BOSS” however I grasped the torch of being “ACCOUNTABLE”. As I’ve stated I believe in the concept “The buck stops with me” but that’s my accountability kicking in, when it came to leading people I always felt the need to get in the “MUCK” with them. Don’t get me wrong I required respect…..my agenda was “Leading by Example”. So, I’ve been torn at this whole idea of “BOSSES” and “Leading at the helm” when it appears that things like “CONSENSUS”, “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY”, “EMPOWERMENT” generates the inspiration. In the end isn’t really about capturing that “INSPIRATION”?

I had a chuckle a while back when all the hoopla was about how the Zappos CEO (Tony Hsieh) took the “Innovative” step in “Leadership Change” to abolish the management structure of his organization….yet his position as “Management” remained intact. To me the move was just symbolism; c’mon the infrastructure of “Management” is still in place…..because YOU’RE MANAGEMENT. Far for me to criticize Mr. Hsieh he’s grown a very successful company, but a “Marketer” knows a “Marketer” when she/he sees one. Mr. Hsieh is not alone however since he’s set the table of what corporate leadership should look like many startups have chosen to mimic this sleight of hand I call “I’m still in charge” magic trick. If we’re truly serious about moving away from any type of hierarchy in today’s corporate world and pursuing a true sense of “CONSENSUS”, “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY”, and “EMPOWERMENT” it’s going to have to start a the very top. I understand the “I built this company” mentality but let’s not get it twisted the success of “YOUR” company depends on the people around it, and keeping the people around it happy takes some “HUMILITY”. One of the things I enjoy about being an entrepreneur is that I still have to collaborate and build consensus despite still knowing I’m building this puppy day by day…..as the “BOSS”. I’m fully aware that without help this business will never succeed.

Okay, I’ll save the best for last…..“MONEY”

I hate being one of those people who believe that “Money rules the world” and I don’t, however it definitely in most cases rule our decisions. If there wasn’t any hierarchy in a corporation how would salaries be determined? Does everyone get paid the same amount of money? Are there certain people in that infrastructure deserving to get paid more? All great questions. Going back to my 3 points “CONSENSUS”, “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY”, and “EMPOWERMENT” I would tackle each one with this thinking:

  • Build a “Nucleus” consensus team that represents each business sector as this will help further lay the groundwork for team sharing and “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY”, the team could call it the “Compensation Harmonization Project”.
  • “Benchmarketing” industry compensation/pay scales but in a collaborative/consensus matter. You may determine a more creative compensation plan without a “Hierarchy Influence”.
  • Construct a “Job Competency Model” that looks at each job and it’s “VALUE” to the organization, and yes, some jobs will carry more weight but that weight will be determined by the team…. “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY” and “EMPOWERMENT”. Variances in pay would be solely the team’s decision.
  • “The Work” and “The Performance” from that work will determine pay increases, bonus structure, company equity etc. Again, there’s no “Vacuum” all decisions with regards to performance will be from a “CONSENSUS”…..and not a handful of people in a boardroom.
  • Build and maintain a “Governance” process that is built on COMMUNICATION, PARTNERSHIP, ACCOUNTABILITY and EMPOWERMENT.
  • Build “Cross Collaboration” teams that develop, and inspire internal talent to work together

Obviously the consistent theme is EVERY decision will be based on “CONSENSUS”, if there’s a bottleneck due to egos, turf battles, personality conflicts etc……well the team will have to figure that out. “PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY” and “EMPOWERMENT” 2 platforms that are highly valued by today’s employee, underneath that however comes a great deal of responsibility. I’m sure many of you are saying “This would never work” and to that I can’t say you’re wrong in your opinion, but, I would then challenge your anger regarding the high salaries, and incompetent leadership with some of today’s “BOSSES”……and why you accept it.

As my mom would say “Be careful what you ask for….you may just get it”!


NO “BOSSES”….including NO CEO?


Check out my workshop on: LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE…accountable & personal leadership! http://www.slideshare.net/aharrell2000/l-33287676

  Thank you!!


Andre’ Harrell

AH2 & Beyond Consulting


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