Flat hierarchies, often celebrated because they’re great for employees. But what do they mean for leaders and L&D teams?
From why leaders are people we want to follow and leadership is a behaviour, not a title, to how we build high-trust cultures and self-management – we tackled a rarely-covered part of the flat hierarchy conversation.
0:00 Intro to Ally, Chichi and this conversation.
1:19 Leadership is a behaviour, not a title.
5:07 What flat hierarchies mean for L&D.
7:28 Build a culture of self-management and self-ownership.
12:30 The role of leaders in helping others self-manage.
23:28 Creating high-trust cultures.
28:50 How can we challenge each other constructively?
34:56 Test flatter hierarchies on a smaller scale.
38:14 Does challenging each other create more or less trust?
42:30 Work out how leadership is currently perceived.
45:35 Pay bands and progression.
“Often, people think leadership is something that comes with a title… But there are a lot of people who are quietly leading, through the nature of how they carry themselves and the way they inspire people.” – Chichi Eruchalu.
People might do what you say because you’re a manager and if they don’t, they might lose their job.
But people follow you because you inspire, care about and develop them – that’s where true leadership lies.
“How aware am I of the impact my behaviours will have on those around me? How often and well do I build in self-reflection… and the final part is around self-regulation.” – Ally Jones.
If your calendar is back-to-back it can be hard to build in opportunities to ask how a conversation went or what we want to get out of this meeting in 10 minutes? But this self-reflection is invaluable in flatter organisations.
Self-regulation is about how well you respond to the environment around you, particularly when it’s difficult and stressful. If we can’t do these three things well, we can’t create the cultural norms for a great learning environment.
“To lead others, we have to lead ourselves well. What’s your operating system? How well do you know yourself and how you function?” – Chichi Eruchalu.
When people interact with us, have we inspired them or drained them?
We’re a product of the leaders around us and, in a flatter hierarchy, we’re drawing from more people. BUT there is a shared responsibility for acting with our values and leadership expectations in mind.
“When you’re really clear on the boundaries of how we do something, but we’re not prescriptive of the how, that’s really important, especially in fast-growing organisations.
“You want to be very clear around where we want to get to, but you allow individuals to go and do what they need to do. They can look to their peers and learn from each other… but as a leader, you’re not there dictating that you must do it this way.
“And I think you get more creativity and innovation that way.” – Chichi Eruchalu.
“Do we build trust? It’s slightly assumptive that we have total control over that, whereas the reality of earning someone’s trust is that it’s a process and about demonstrating the right behaviours.” – Ally Jones.
Ally recommended a great framework that essentially explains how our levels of trustworthiness are equal to our levels of credibility.
“That framework really does simplify what trust is about. When I say I’m going to do something, do I do it? That level of integrity seems so simple but is often disregarded.” – Chichi Eruchalu.
Start small but think big has become a bit of a mantra on the show, but it’s really true here. You could try a flatter approach on a particular project and review how it went.
Chichi and Ally gave us some great advice on how you can do this today:
“Give things a go, fail fast, learn from the things that didn’t work and repeat the things that did.” – Ally Jones.