Management hierarchy does one thing well: it provides a clear answer to the question “Who’s in charge here?” Some of us lead, the rest of us follow. It doesn’t get much clearer than that!
That clarity goes out the window once an organization shifts to self-organization.
Now, who leads and who follows?
The answer: it depends.
Learning to decide when to lead and when to follow is a constant practice in taking up and giving authority.
Why become aware of your own leading and following habits?
It depends on what is being decided, what roles are involved, and what authority those roles have been granted. Now that we can’t look to the hierarchy for answers, we need to learn to both lead and follow, depending on the role we play in a given situation, and switch seamlessly between them.
That sounds simple, but most of us have a preference for either leading (taking up authority) or following (giving authority).