Whether within a company, business unit, family, or sports team, it often works best if one decision maker is calling the shots. You need to move quickly. But can that be inclusive?
There have been many experiments with flat cultures. Everyone having a say allows people to feel heard. Listening to people of all levels of experiences, backgrounds, ages, and perspectives is important to innovation and team building.
Yet if you can't make rapidfire decisions in a marketplace that doesn't wait, you'll stagnate. If we run by consensus, how long will it take us to move?
You can create a balance between innovation and equality. Here's how:
1. Start with a touch of management structure at the beginning.
You need to have a CEO, COO, management team, and some hierarchy. You can build creativity in only after you set certain processes and ways to make decisions in place.
Then, give ownership to people who are ready to lead in some areas. For example, a junior person with three years experience can take ownership on higher levels, such as leading a marketing partnership. If they demonstrate potential, let them. However, a caution: that doesn't mean they are ready to manage other areas or other people.
2. Rotate leadership at team meetings.
Everyone can take a turn in orchestrating the meeting. Helping set the agenda, writing up the notes, and calling on people, demonstrates leadership and communication skills. You'll be able to assess how a team member operates speaking to groups and their organizational thought processes in the moment, since meetings don't always go the way you expect.
3. Let your team execute on a project above their current level.
Let your team rise to the occasion. If they haven't done something before, take a risk. Let them figure it out.
We have a fundraising event coming up. The team hasn't executed on this yet. But they are smart and we have three people pooling ideas. It might not be what you thought. So let's embrace it and figure out what we can be learning from them.
Spread this structure at all levels, encouraging others to think this way. You'll create leaders who rise to the top, and who can lead in multiple areas.
[Image: Flickr user Arild Storaas]