Leadership Development – Rethinking 1 person per role for dynamic needs

I have been thinking alot about leadership growth in my new role, how to grow team members to the next level. Many a time the focus is on growing one person into a role, which may be an ill-fit for certain roles or organization setups

My prior experiences actually lend credence to this approach:

  1. ThoughtWorks had it nailed down with the Beryllium (4 CEOs) running the organization with 2-in-a-box managers being common. I had an opportunity one part of 2-in-a-box General Manager in the South African office with the awesome Kgomotso Sediane where we both started on the same day. The biggest learnings & growth I have gotten in life came from this experience needing to be in sync with another person, finding out our strengths and weaknesses, plus blind spots and covering each other
  2. In another instance at previous role, I worked across 2 distinct program areas, with 3 direct reporting lines, and 2 additional dotted reporting lines due to the need for coordination. Obviously this was not ideal, but was necessary to maintain co-ordinated activities.

This got me thinking, does a position always have to be occupied by one person, or are models of 2 or 3 in-a-box not worth exploring for more complex and dynamic roles, even as part of leadership development with a leader actually working shoulder-to-shoulder with their replacement(s)

This obviously requires out of the box thinking, executive support, room to experiement and define what this means, plus will not work in every corporate culture, but is something worth evaluating and looking at more in this world that is growing more complex

The approach also requires rethinking the definition of roles in certain cases, with a process to guide natural evolution from a complex role into simpler roles over time and/or even combining simple roles into more complex roles to reduce overlaps in reporting lines and simplify organization structures

What are your thoughts and ideas? What is your experience, where has this worked and not worked?


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