3. White space management
This is the least concrete skill to master.
A quote from the Wikipedia article on “White Space”*:
“White space is a process management concept described by Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache in 1991 as the area between the boxes in an organizational chart—where, very often, no one is in charge. (…) White space exists in all companies…where rules are vague, authority is fuzzy, budgets are nonexistent, and strategy is unclear”. If white space is undefined, then the rest of the corporation operates in what they call “black space”. The study completed by the authors analyzed entrepreneurial activity in the white space area of corporations. The four key challenges to successful white space management requires establishing legitimacy, mobilizing resources, building momentum, and measuring results.”
In the new organizational structures there is a lot of White Space.
As a general design principle you should allow that teams decide on their own organizational structure, being hierarchical, flat, holacracy, or something else. This is the only possibility for scaling the New Leadership philosophy to thousands of employees: Focus on the space between the “cultural dots”. (For inspiration and further reading, see this article by Jacob Morgan: “The Complete Guide To The 5 Types Of Organizational Structures For The Future Of Work“.)
This skill is not something you can learn in a university, but requires extreme leadership skills. As Rummler and Brache describes it: “The four key challenges to successful white space management requires establishing legitimacy, mobilizing resources, building momentum, and measuring results.”
4. Gardener of your ecosystem
Lastly, you have an important role when it comes to managing collaboration between all the leaders and key influencers, especially horizontally in the organization. You must be a gardener of the ecosystem around you, such that the dynamics of a strengths-based leadership team is nurtured, and that dialogue, engagement, and access to expertise are facilitated. This is one of the aspects of the so-called social business, namely facilitation of the health of the leadership ecosystem between the leaders.
Compared to ‘leading downwards’ to your teams and ‘leading upwards’ to your leader, ‘leading horizontally’ is many-fold tougher and a neglected or ignored discipline, especially in organizations who have not transformed away from hierarchies.
One traditional impediment for this is performance management. If you’re being monitored on local products and KPIs, you really must break this pattern and deliberately invest extra time in collaborating with your peer leaders, getting to know them, helping them with resources, and asking them for help. You must do this, even though you know that it takes focus away from their inherently incentive-directed behavior.
So, your new role is there. You will not be redundant, on the contrary, but your role changes dramatically.
Focus on employees long-term well-being, on thinking as an entrepreneur working ON the business, on the white space between the teams and products, and on your relationships.