Being a transformational leader requires becoming more committed to business model innovation than ever before. It requires a leader to be stretched, tested, and led away from their comfort zone.
In some pioneering organizations leadership is not found in title or position, rather in a deep sense of service and commitment that transcends role. This kind of leadership galvanizes and bonds teams.
Part one of this series expresses the value in going beyond the top-down, “I am the only one who can,” style of leadership, into a new paradigm in which leaders are found in all roles.
This post highlights an audacious example—The Morning Star Company—to stimulate your own innovative thinking. It is the world’s largest tomato-processing company, has 400 employees and 0 managers and is solidly grounded in an unusual commitment-based structure.
Transformational leadership without titles or managers
At Morning Star the employees make all decisions, from how to do their job to determining what resources they will need.
Business guru Peter Drucker once envisioned an organization in which:
“…every man sees himself as a ‘manager’ and accepts for himself the full burden of what is basically managerial responsibility: responsibility for his own job and work group, for his contribution to the performance and results of the entire organization, and for the social tasks of the work community.” (Forbes/ Leadership, September 2012)
Morning Star CEO Chris Rufer took this path when he founded Morningstar 40 years ago. They call it now the practice of self-management and it is combined with a kind of mutual management. Decisions about what to do are based on employee’s commitments to others. Each person makes commitments to those they work with in peer-to-peer contracts.
Morning Star Company has demonstrated in its 40 years:
• Solid growth and profits
• Low employee turnover
• Record innovation
And they have accomplished this with no bosses, no titles or promotions and with compensation structure which is peer-based.
This committed way of organizing inspires everyone at Morningstar to work in highly productive partnership as they churn out 180,000 of tomato past each day.
Although many transformational leaders have tried to emulate this innovative model, organizational obstacles seem to have ultimately stopped them.
“Ironically, one thing that seems to kill off the move to self-management is bureaucracy—an organizational blight that self-management is designed to tame.” (Forbes/leadership September 2012)
What is clear is that commitment based innovative structures have a power that can endure and a resilience that inspires innovation, productivity and teamwork.
Other approaches to commitment-based approaches to enterprise-wide transformation are producing breakthroughs. And it is actually possible to inspire breakthrough performance even within current structures.
One primary question that emerges is:
What do CEO’s and current leaders need to develop within themselves and their colleagues to engender such self-management and coordinated work within current business models?
Morningstar CEO Rufer started with a strong vision and clean slate 40 years ago. However most leaders today do no have that kind of clean slate. What will it take to transform an existing organization?
What new ideas based in committed self-management can you bring to your company?