#NZLead – Leading in Unorthodox Structures

Posted: January 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


Welcome to the first post-Amanda Sterling led #NZLead and of 2016.  It’s my pleasure and honour to continue Amanda’s legacy of stimulating posts, sharing and chat via the #NZLead hashtag.


Because I offered to host the chat (on Twitter: 28 January NZ time 7pm – 8pm / UK time 8am-9am) I got to choose the topic and it’s something I am REALLY interested in, taxed by and keen to know more about: leading in unorthodox structures.  

Leading seems both easy as pie and full of common sense about human behaviours; and as difficult as can be with the complexities of people, systems, unpredictability and unexpected outcomes.  It is still difficult in systems and structures we’ve been working with for years – hierarchical, job-title led and positional power infused.  So what about when the structures are very different and all those old rules are cast aside for alternative and therefore unorthodox leadership propositions?

We could spend a couple of weeks debating leading in Agile, how Scrum methodology in IT development needs a different kind of leader and we haven’t even talked up democratic workplace principles or the H-bomb of Holacracy.

Casting aside the various labels for systems and thinking purely about things which are deviances from the traditional ladder of power pyramid model, what does this form of leadership need, mean and do?

So my four questions are: –

  1. How strongly do we feel alternative structures are challenging the more traditional orthodox formats?  Is it an increasing trend that will become a new norm?
  2. What are the issues leaders face in working with / in alternative structures?
  3. What’s the mindset and behavioural shift leaders will have to make to be successful in alternative set-ups/structures?
  4. What’s the one thing leaders can focus on to adapt to alternative structures – however radical they may be?


If there’s one thing I’m seeing it’s that leadership is under pressure to adapt whatever the system or structure.  That’s not a new thing: ever since I became someone with people management responsibility, there’s been new theory, changed models of operating and different demands.  The structures though have all been largely similar – hierarchical.

Now that we’re seeing many challengers to this model, I’m seeing a whole new tension arise in leaders.  Fearful – in many regards – for their very existence.  Gary Hamel has advocated Management 2.0 for some time now.  Julian Birkinshaw called for the Reinvention of Management and there’s countless books on alternative leadership angles and now leading in a connected age.

Let’s see what useful insight, hopes and aspirations we can set in our one-hour twitter storm.  Thursday 28th January 2016 – 7pm NZ Time / 6am UK Time.

  1. […] Four our first chat of 2016 Perry Timms was our facilitator.  Perry previewed his chat here on his own excellent blog. […]

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