Leadership is defined as an involvement of leading a group of people in the position of being a leader. Lateral leadership involves the same idea but incorporates the notion of leading people across organizations. People choose to take on accountability, proprietorship, and self-rule throughout an organization, regardless of their job title, position, or spot in the organizational pyramid of leadership. This is often accomplished by colleagues that have no previous leadership experience.
Rather than having leaders who lead from the top down (vertical leadership), these leaders take charge to help engage their colleagues as a team while working towards a common goal. Oftentimes, those who take on the lateral leadership role are often worried that they are stepping on other’s toes, so the decision to tread lightly must be strongly taken into consideration.
Leaders are everywhere. Being a leader involves more than having employees underneath you. It’s about the knack to distinguish a need within the organization, use it as an opportunity, and have accountability when it’s needed but not required by your employer. Selected leaders (outside the realm of lateral leaders) feel that their hand is forced when they are put into a leading administration role. This can present challenges across the organization, especially when he/she is not ready for leadership capacity.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
– John Maxwell, NY Times Best Selling Author
The gap between colleagues can present a drop in employee productivity. Lateral leadership can offer a fresh approach to an alternative route of success. This can improve your organization and the work environment. Lateral leaders begin their purpose as they have a vision in mind and oftentimes, leaders with the title don’t recognize this vision or need within the practice.
Benefits Of Lateral Leadership
Lateral leadership hosts the ability to bring people in across an organization. This creates a sense of flexibility while still remaining vigorous in the method to management. Managers willingly allow a culture of trust to form which allows employees to work autonomously while being able to report to colleagues, rather than higher-ups of the organization. An immeasurable sense of pressure is released from employees, allowing them to feel more comfortable being themselves in their work environment.
Applying lateral leadership to an organization can improve communication strategies among colleagues and employers. At its core, lateral leaders have an augmented level of efficiency, efficacy, and even ingenuity. Rather than a disruption in workflow while ideas move up the chain of command in a vertical leadership setting, lateral leadership generates an unrestricted flow of ideas.
A vast range of industry sectors have concluded that lateral leadership drives organizational success through an enhanced stream of mindsets. HR departments have recognized a reduction in legal tangle as a result of lateral leadership implementations. Impressive talent pools have been the direct result of this.
At the minimum, it allows employees to come together and form a team. At best, it creates more of a family-like atmosphere which encourages people to be themselves, while still helping others through positive inspiration and encouragement. This enables opportunities for people to execute as forerunners and wield their influence throughout the organization.
Why Lateral Leadership Is On The Rise
Globally, there is a goods crisis that has resulted in supply chain distributions across all business sectors. As a direct result, leading administration have begun to adapt by becoming flexible. Pressure has been placed upon leaders in all roles to test the waters in order to provide better business solutions to the global supply chain issues so operations may continue to flow.
With this crisis in full swing, leaders have busted down the traditional barriers in an effort to boost diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout their organization. Lateral leadership, which was once an afterthought of how to prevail out of typical bureaucracy messes, began to rise when employees were granted a better sense of freedom to unite and accept a higher sense of responsibility. Unpretentious leaders have risen up to economic challenges to help fellow colleagues and their employer to evolve their business to accommodate clients/customers in order to remain open and successful.
Disadvantages Of Lateral Leadership
Without question, lateral leadership can provide excellent opportunities for growth within organizations and especially to its people. This is the exact reason that lateral leadership is on the rise, rapidly becoming a trending term in the workplace. But it also comes with its fair share of disadvantages and these should not be disregarded when trying to decide which style of leadership works best within your organization.
The Ability To Make A Determination Can Be Indistinguishable
Lateral leadership grants people a higher sense of freedom to make decisions, but this can result in excessive decisions that can overlap in thought. Decision avoidance comes into play which leads to unpleasant decisions which can fail, leaving multiple people to be at fault. When a member of the leading administration is in charge, this tends to not be a drawback.
Work Tasks Appear Difficult To Delegate Among Employees
Without vertical leadership, the ability to delegate tasks and instructions can be blurred. The end result is certain individuals have a greater workload because others fail to feel as responsible. Work tasks can prove impossible to delegate to individuals if there is no set leader, which results in job burnout, frustration, and lower employee retention rates over time.
Employees Deliberate More About Themselves And Their Beliefs Before Contemplating Others
Lateral leadership has one unsuccessful aspect no matter what – employees will concentrate more on their own opinions before considering others. To avoid this requires a high level of self-motivation, which isn’t always possible, depending upon employee’s personality types. The aftermath tends to lean towards lower motivation and a loss in team spirit.
Vertical Or Lateral Leadership?
Lateral leadership is stimulating in its own right, while the classic hierarchy approach (vertical leadership) has been around since the commencement of the business era. However, lateral leadership is dominating its way through the business scene as it trends to become the next big thing. With its distinctive ways to incorporate leadership by the masses in an effort to bring efficiency, efficacy, and ingenuity to organizations, it can prove to be widely beneficial to individualized organizations regardless of what sector they fall into.
Before your organization snubs its nose up at the mere thought of a lateral leadership, take the time to consider the advantages and disadvantages. Lateral leadership isn’t for everyone, but it is worth taking the time to try it out before making an iron-clad decision on the best leadership for your organization.