The model of the single powerful leader who operates through command and control is attractive in its simplicity. This model of leadership often gets reinforced in the media, as well as by demanding shareholders. In reality, it is impractical to expect the single leader to have all the answers, and history has shown that relying upon rigid control mechanisms will not prevent catastrophic outcomes.
It’s far better to rely upon a broad base of individuals and leaders who share a common set of values and feel personal ownership for the overall success of the organization. These responsible and empowered individuals will serve as much better watchdogs than any single, dominant leader or bureaucratic structure.
And as organizations grow in size and complexity, it becomes even more critical to distribute the leadership load. Conventional structures that rely upon concentrated leadership to drive decisions towards the center run the risk of becoming constrained by their own organization. They also lose the opportunity to empower a much broader base of competent leaders. The capacity of the organization increases when it distributes the leadership load to competent leaders on the ground who can make the best knowledge-based decisions.