Requisite Organization Design Ensures Managers Can be Leaders

By Michelle Malay Carter on June 7, 2009 

Whipping Managers into Leaders.  The alternative?  Requisite Organization design.Organizations expend tremendous resources trying to whip individual managers into being leaders via training, coaching, inspiring, punishing, demanding, pleading…

Although these various approaches may, in fact, provide some results, if your organization design is structurally flawed, even your most motivated, knowledgeable and well trained manager leaders will be rendered impotent.

Who is MacroManaging Our Organizations?
We need a dual approach.? One that focuses on individual development and one that has its focus on the system within which are leaders are working.? (By the way, this is executive leadership work, and in many organizations, it, i.e. strategic talent management and organization design,?appears to be missing or seriously misinformed.)

I said in a previous post that:? What we see in corporate world is akin to asking employees to be accountable for preventing disease when the organization refuses to install indoor plumbing or filter its contaminated well water.? Employees are working in polluted environments created by misinformed, piecemeal, dysfunctional people systems and organizational design, and we keep blaming them for showing symptoms of illness.

How Can We Design an Organization that Enables Leadership without “Fixing” Even One Employee?
We can enable leadership from managers, and consequently, give employees what they want and need in a manager by ensuring all managerial roles are located one work level above the role of their direct reports.? The design principle is really quite simple, but it requires becoming knowledgeable about work levels.

What Do Employees Want in a Manager??
Paraphrased from Ralph Rowbottom and Davis Billis’, Organisation Design, A Work Levels Approach, when employees encounter knotty problems, employees want (I say deserve) a manager who, by virtue of his/her position, has the authority to:

And (here is the individual part), is personally cognitively capable to:

Satisfying Leaders have A Higher Level Role and Matching Cognitive Capability – It’s All Relative to Me
In summary, employees will experience their manager as a leader when both the manager’s role and the manager’s cognitive capability fall into the next level higher than the employee.? Organization’s can design and screen for this.

I’m OK.? You’re OK.? Let’s fix the system.

Is your manager your leader?

Filed Under Executive Leadership, Organization Design, Talent Management, Work Levels


2 Responses to “Requisite Organization Design Ensures Managers Can be Leaders”

  1. Carol Tyler Townsend on June 13th, 2009 2:04 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I just sent this along to a client who is struggling with a mis-matched supervisor and her team. Thanks for such a succinct and helpful explanation of manager/leader.


  2. Michelle Malay Carter on June 13th, 2009 2:30 pm

    Hi Carol,

    It’s good to hear from you. I hope you and your husband are well.

    Thanks for passing this along. Glenn and I are still plugging along fixing all the systems we can get our hands upon.