Leadership attitudes should and will vary greatly among the different types of organizations. There are 5 types of organizations: the traditional hierarchy, flatter organizations, flat organizations, flatarchies, and holacratic organizations. The traditional hierarchy consists of a pyramid –like structure that is used for businesses that require linear work. This is, as the name states it, the most traditional structure. Flatter organizations, unlike traditional hierarchy, has a much more open communication strategy within the organization, allowing for fewer layers, and communication that goes in both directions, as opposed to an unidirectional communication structure. The trend for larger organizations is becoming flatter organizations because they are easy to scale and allow easy communication. Flat organizations, different than most organization types, is completely flat, which means everyone is an equal and leads to now job titles or seniority. This type of organization allows participants to join in on projects, propose ideas and execute them with other members of the team that wish to participate. Flatarchies are a combination of flat organizations and traditional hierarchy, where you’ll find hierarchical teams that communicate with ad-hoc teams that are completely flat. These structures are thought of as very dynamic and can be in constant change. The company will have a structure, but employees are motivated to generate new ideas and develop them. This structure does not limit itself to any particular size. Finally, there is a Holacratic organization, which is a rather new concept and is emerging among smaller or medium organizations. This is a “boss-less” organization, where everyone is allowed to shine in the areas they feel they are the best in, all while distributing decision-making. In each business model, you will find that the type of leader has to have very distinct traits, and these will all aid in moving forward with the model. You can actually read more about specific leadership styles on the Jason Hanold blog, but here the focus will be on leaders and the necessary traits in flat organizations.
Flat organizations, as was described earlier, really don’t have any visible leaders, which can bring with it some challenges like naturally formed smaller circles of hierarchy, the lack of structure can make it difficult for there to be accountability and responsibility, and finally communication can be affected, since everyone will naturally drift to independent teams. Despite the difficulties that may arise in this type of organization, it is no different than any other type of organizational structure, in the sense that there will always be pros and cons. In this kind of structure, some may think that the leadership roles will disappear, but on the contrary, it only means that the type of leadership will change. This kind of company relies on people within the organization developing passion projects and reinjecting innovation in the organization, by working with peers on these projects. Now, they do have certain guidelines and it’s that structure that will ensure that every project is still oriented towards the goals of the company. This kind of structure, will not only allow the middle management and management in a traditional hierarchy structure to stay on as natural leaders, but it will also allow employees that would normally not have the opportunity to actively offer their opinions to do so. The communication among team members will also change quite a lot, since now leaders will need to share information, reach consensus, negotiate terms and take group decision, rather than simply tell colleagues what to do. Another advantage, in terms of leadership, will be that each person will become a leader in projects that they feel passionate about and have skills in.
The leaders of the future will need to have a clear grasp of how networks function and what it takes to be a leader within a network. For flat organizations to be successful you do need certain conditions that will promote and provide a healthy organizational environment. Transparency is the first characteristic to consider. For people at any level to offer ideas and develop projects, a high level of transparency is necessary in the organization. Decisions will be made from top down or bottom up, varying a lot from traditional organization structures, which will lead to ensuring communication about why decisions are made are clear and spread quickly through the whole company. Another trait necessary for this to work will be need to train employees to think strategically, which will occur if they have all the necessary information to make decisions. This will open the path to making decision based on not only their vision of the product or service but the complete concept of market conditions, costs and everything else that an entrepreneur mindset would have. Lastly, you’ll need to create a collaborative environment, where employees can easily reach out to each other, find necessary resources, and spaces to interact freely and frequently. By creating an open, transparent, and interconnected environment decisions can be made easily and quickly.