Sideways leadership

The art of allowing anyone in your management team to take the lead at the right moment.

Leadership is not simply about a hierarchy – with a leader at the top and various levels of follower below.

More and more, we recognise that many people in an organisation need to assume the mantle of leadership on different occasions.

We call this sideways leadership.

Individuals, pairs of people, and teams of people often need to plug into the existing hierarchy of an organisation and assume the mantle of leadership for a particular project or for a specific intervention.

Specialists are a good example.

Sideways leadership has become especially relevant in a market that demands customisation, flexibility and responsiveness.

Specialists cannot remain cloistered from the world. They must be able to come down from their ivory towers and, at any given time, they must be able to assume the mantle of leadership.

In order for a particular problem or situation to be resolved – efficiently – they must have the leadership skills that will allow them to apply their specialised knowledge and expertise to a particular issue, stepping in to lead those around them.

As a sideways leader, what is expected of you?

How will you become a respected member of the team? What new competencies do you need? Who do you need to be?
 
How must the rest of the team behave?

Clearly, you are no longer an ordinary employee in your company. You must command respect. You must be able to lead your company through a critical time.

That’s a big shift.

YSA develops not only the individual for sideways management; it develops the entire management team.

The team must understand and accept the principle – and know how to work with it effectively. It is a collaborative effort.

Think of a jazz band.

A jazz band is a collection of people. To be effective, to be compelling, those people must be many things. They must be polished. They must be skilled. They must be rehearsed and thought-through. Thorough in their preparations.

And they must be able to perform collectively and individually.

Only then do they have the freedom to perform. Only then will they understand when it is time for the band to step back and let one of them members step forward and shine. To take the lead.

The band will always be greater than the sum of its members. But only when each member of the band contributes effectively – and wonderfully – at the right moment.

This is sideways leadership at its best.

It is with this polish, this self-knowledge, this awareness, that we like our clients to perform.