Leadership without Hierarchy (with the organizational structure inspired by the model of the hydrogen atom proposed by Niels Bohr)
To be competitive, any organization have to release the full potential for creativity in its collaborators. But creativity and hierarchy are incompatible. Leaders need to manage declining to exercise the power granted to them by their hierarchical positions. Solution: Adopt the organizational structure inspired by the Niels Bohr hydrogen atom.
Leaders once and again are trying to do stimulate creativity in their organizations, but with increasingly frustrating results.
The problem is that almost all efforts are directed to modify the behaviours of leaders and followers, without understanding that those behaviours are largely determined for the model of organizational structure in which they interact with each other.
It is frequent to see leaders making genuine intents or the elimination of barriers to communication, participation, etc. But it is frequent too that these efforts only result in personal discouragement in leaders and followers, because the desired improvements never materialize.
The problem here is a lack of focus. Instead of looking at personal behaviours, we have to pay attention to the organizational forms that condition those behaviours.
● What is the best organizational structure for releasing the creativity of our collaborators?
● What is the best organizational structure for stimulating their participation?
● What is the best organizational structure for the promotion of entrepreneurship?
For any of these questions the answer is the same:
This organizational structure is the one that prevents its leaders to exercise power and forces them to manage influencing people.
And from my point of view this is the organizational structure inspired on the model of the hydrogen atom proposed by Niels Bohr.
The model devised by Niels Bohr depicts the hydrogen atom as a small, positively charged nucleus surrounded by electrons that travel in circular orbits around the nucleus. Electrons can jump up or down between these circular orbits that represent different energy levels.
From my point of view the nucleus consists of the people 100 % compromised with the company Mission, Values & Objectives. The electrons that travel in different orbits with different energy levels represents collaborators in positions from which they want to contribute, with varying degrees of commitment with the Mission, Values & Objectives. Each employee can be placed in the orbit he wants, and do so voluntarily according to what he wants or can contribute to the company.
According to this model of organizational structure:
● It is not possible for leaders to exercise power and they need to be experts at influencing people.
● The structure makes no distinction between salaried or non- salaried employees.
● The criterion for belonging to the nucleus or to be in any orbit will be determined by two factors:
1º, The employee voluntary identification with the company Mission, Values & Objectives.
2º, The employee skills and how the company evaluates those skills in a daily basis.
● There is a maximum flexibility, because one can enter or exit the nucleus, or move between different orbits, depending on his decision to assume more or less compromise with the company Mission, Values & Objectives.
● There are two forces that leaders have to manage to maintain organizational equilibrium:
▪ The centripetal force. This consists of the employees needs for belonging and security.
▪ The centrifugal force: This consists of the employee need for autonomy.
● Future leaders are not chosen by their personal characteristics, but by their paths in different orbits and the nucleus.
The leader in an organizational structure inspired in the hydrogen atom proposed by Niels Bohr, has to spend most of his/her time on:
Defining Mission, Values & Objectives
Preaching the Mission
Redefining and enriching continually that Mission with the ideas of the people in the organization, mainly with the ideas of those belonging to the Nucleus.
So he/she is in a permanent dialogue with all people, explaining and listening, and through this dialogue, persuading them to act in a direction, to work with a purpose defined by the Mission previously accepted and shared. This organizational model is successful when the leader finds collaborators that share the Mission, Values & Objectives, and work enthusiastically to convert the ideas represented in the M, V & O in daily results.
This organizational compromise averts chaos. People act freely to decide what to do, but that means they are free to choose how to realize this specific and shared Mission, not other one.
So there is discipline in this model of organizational structure: the discipline of the Mission. The advantage over other model of structure is that, in this case, the bohrian leader, once has been able to persuade collaborators to share the Mission, will not interfere with their work.
Without this model of structure, I mean when the leader acts within structural models based in different forms of the organizational pyramid: classic, inverted, flattened, etc, it shall be impossible not to interfere. Any organizational structure associated with any form of the pyramid imposes hierarchical behaviours in both groups, leaders and collaborators: the first give orders and the second obey.
My experience has taught me that each organizational structure compels to behave in a determined way. So “pyramidal leaders” can have the best purposes for restrain themselves and give autonomy to their collaborators, but sooner or later, the inevitable rules of the organizational structure in which they act, forces them to act in a certain way: in not bohrian structures, commanding; in bohrian structures, persuading. Pyramidal leaders: Good bye, good purposes.
This is why we need to adopt a new and different model for the organizational structure. A new model with a very precise goal: prevent leaders to exercise power, prerequisite for releasing the creativity of their collaborators.
As a model for a non-pyramidal organizational structure, I suggest the organizational structure inspired by the model of the hydrogen atom proposed by Niels Bohr.
Organizational model related with the pyramid forces leader behaviours, at any level, based on the power of the hierarchy, and discourages taken risks. The consequence is the suffocation of creativity.
In the same way that organizational structures related with the pyramid causes stability, those related with the model of the hydrogen atom proposed by Niels Bohr, stimulates movement. So we will develop flexible companies able to exploit its opportunities.
This organizational structure will be in itself an evaluation tool for any leader, because exercise leadership means to be able of influence people. Most times when an employee accepts an order he is accepting the power of hierarchy, but this does not mean that he is accepting a leader.
Make a realistic description of the situation: lost opportunities, people dissatisfaction, lack of compromise, challenging markets, etc
Define in an attractive way Mission, Values & Objectives.
Make and communicate a prototype of the new organization.
Invite each collaborator to determine his situation (nucleus, orbits) in the new organizational model.
Decide by yourself what his situation (nucleus, orbits) should be.
Begin with a process, not with the entire organization. Consider this process as an independent hydrogen atom.
Add little by little new processes as new hydrogen atoms that try to constitute a corporate conglomerate.