In this unconventional, thought-provoking text, Jeffrey Nielsen debunks leader-based corporate hierarchies and presents the paradigm of "peer-based" organizations.
Table of Contents
The Myth of Leadership”Creating Leaderless Organizations
Part One - The Context of Leadership
Rank-Based vs. Peer-Based Thinking in Organizations
The Myth of Leadership
Why Have Leaders?
Part Two - The Evolution of Organizational Practices
"Strange Attractors" and Organizational Practices
"Big Chief" and Hierarchical Rank-Based Organizations
Part Three - Creating and Managing Peer-Based Organizations
Creating Peer-Based Organizations
The Strategy of Peer-Based Organizations
Open and Leaderless Peer-Based Organizations
List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Sidebars
Can we really run organizations without leaders ? Yes, says organizational consultant Jeffrey Nielsen in this provocative book. According to Nielsen, it s time to stop structuring businesses as rank-based organizations run by a privileged elite who are so isolated from the front lines that they are downright counterproductive.
Debunking the leadership myth, Nielsen calls for an end to leader-based corporate hierarchies, which foster secrecy , encourage miscommunication , and steal the joy and dignity from work. His new paradigm is the peer-based organization.
No matter how you feel about Nielsen s theory of leaderless organizations, you are sure to find this book thought provoking. It will challenge your assumptions about the role of leadership in modern organizations.
About the Author
Jeffrey S. Nielsen is an internationally recognized consultant who specializes in strategy, organization development, and training. His firm, Intellectual Capital Development, focuses on helping individuals think strategically and act like business owners . Nielsen began his consulting and training career with the Franklin Covey Company, traveling extensively to consult with Fortune 100 companies and agencies of the U.S. government. He has also worked with Right Management Consultants, Inc., an international outplacement and organizational consulting firm. A former Teaching Fellow at Boston College, Nielsen is currently a visiting lecturer at Brigham Young University.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Nielsen, Jeffrey S. The myth of leadership: creating leaderless organizations / Jeffrey S. Nielsen. ”1st ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index.
(hardcover) 1. Leadership. 2. Organizational change. I. Title.
HD57.7.N54 2004 658.4 ² 092 ”dc22
FIRST EDITION First printing 2004
To Doug and Kathy
Without pretense, they live what they believe and influence the world moment by moment.
You will not do anything without others. ” Franz Kafka
Writing a book is a daunting task, and it cannot be achieved alone. I need to thank those who have helped me along the way, first of all my family. Without their love, patience, and understanding, writing the book would have been more than daunting; it would have been impossible . My wife, Doreen, and my four children, Jill, Ryan, Rebecca, and Anna, have willingly sacrificed for many years to help make this book a reality. My mother and my late father, J. Larry Nielsen, have always served as an example to me of genuine love and concern. I should also mention Thorald and Lola Gene Rollins, who disprove all the negative stereotypes about in-laws.
I am thankful for my many colleagues, knowing people who exemplify goodness in their lives and who exhibit a real curiosity and desire for knowledge. I need to mention specifically Robert Crawford, Ed Donakey, Jeff Kearl, Stevie Keyes, Curt Porritt, Dennis Rasmussen, Buck Rose, Terry Warner, and Tenneson Woolf. I cannot forget the two ethics classes I taught at Brigham Young University in the spring and fall terms of 2003. These bright philosophy students helped me discover both the strengths and weaknesses in my understanding of peer-based organizations in our "Ethics of Leadership" course.
I also feel a deep gratitude for the following individuals for their encouragement, insights, friendship, and good conversation: Sterling Adams, Brent Barnett, Scott Hammond, Rob Hancock, Alexander Laszlo, Scott Pleune, Larry Ruff, Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, and Carl Zaiss. I would especially like to thank Rick Sidorowicz, editor of the online leadership journal CEO Refresher at refresher.com, for his support.
I began thinking about business and organizations as a graduate student in philosophy at Boston College. I was studying the brilliant Jesuit thinker Bernard Lonergan with a wonderful man, Joseph Flanagan. With Father Flanagan, I began to explore science ”complexity and chaos theory ”and human social organizations. From him I learned both a method of questioning and a process for learning. Pat Byrne, also of Boston College, and Ervin Laszlo, renowned systems thinker, have also been major intellectual influences. Though I do not quote these important twentieth-century thinkers at any length, their influence is everywhere present.
I am grateful to the entire team at Davies-Black Publishing for their wonderful dedication to improving organizational and individual life. My heartfelt thanks go especially to Connie Kallback for her vision of the possibilities of this project from the beginning. I am also grateful to Laura Simonds for her marketing talents and to Mark Chambers for his copyediting skill.
About the Author
Jeffrey S. Nielsen, founder of Intellectual Capital Development, is passionate about working with organizations to develop peer-based leadership councils that awaken the productivity and creativity of the entire organization. He assists organizations in developing robust strategic business models that help them be creative, solve problems, and optimally adapt to their environment to create success. He specializes in strategic consulting and training to assist individuals in an organization learn how to act strategically, acquire knowledge-based skills that will not become obsolete, and begin to think like owners . To this end, he has created strategy, training, and organizational design models that give organizations the ability to transform challenges and crises in the environment for their gain and growth.
Nielsen is also a visiting lecturer at Brigham Young University, where he teaches "Ethics of Leadership." He formerly taught courses in ethics, reasoning and writing, and the history and development of science at Utah Valley State College. Prior to these appointments, he was a Teaching Fellow at Boston College, teaching courses in logic, critical thinking, and the history of science and art. He has also worked in financial services as a credit union legal representative and in community relations at Boston College, where he helped develop a mediation program for resolving student disputes and is currently completing a Ph.D. degree in philosophy. He received an undergraduate degree in German from Weber State College with an emphasis in economics.
Nielsen began his consulting and training career working with the Franklin Covey Company, where he presented workshops titled "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" and "First Things First Time Management." He taught interpersonal communication workshops for special clients of the former Covey Leadership Center as well as overviews of Principle Centered Leadership. In this capacity he has traveled internationally, consulting with many Fortune 100 companies. He has also worked extensively with health care, computer, and information technology companies and frequently works with groups inside the federal government in Washington, D.C.
Nielsen has worked as well with the international outplacement and organizational consulting firm Right Management Consultants, Inc. His work there was primarily with human resource professionals and outplaced workers, and he helped HR professionals enhance their career service programs. His consulting work with downsized workers focused on coaching them in effective strategies to transition to new careers. He developed methods for individuals to assess their strengths and accomplishments, define their career objectives, and market themselves to potential employers . He specialized in training the job seeker in networking, interviewing, and negotiating skills and delivered change management and team-building workshops for Right Management both in the United States and in Europe.
For more information about creating peer-based organizations, or to learn about the competencies required to be successful in them, you can contact Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.