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We Deliver Clear Intent to Build Alignment and Execute with Autonomy: Leader Leader

In this series, we are covering how Bonial came to a turning point after some successful years and how that changed our leadership approach and defined our principles. This is the introduction to our fourth principle.

Our fourth principle is Leader Leader. So far we have reflected on the power and the potential of each individual as well as the impact of external forces on how we think and act. This principle focuses on how we are all leaders.

The conventional leadership model focuses on information, alignment, and control. In regards to the plans, actions, and outcomes, it is possible to identify three challenges:

  • Knowledge gap: the difference between what we would like to know and what we actually know.
  • Alignment gap: the difference between what we want people to do and what they actually do.
  • Effects gap: the difference between what we expect our actions to achieve and what they actually achieve.

The leader-leader principle proposes a new dynamic:

  • Knowledge gap: Limit direction to defining and communicating the intent.
  • Alignment gap: Allow each level to define how they will achieve the intent of the next level up, and “back brief”
  • Effects gap: Give individuals the freedom to adjust their actions in line with the intent.

Decentralized decision-making trumps top-down control under high uncertainty and the decisions and execution should be as close to the information as possible. In other words, less hierarchy and more autonomy with accountability are key to efficiency and better decision-making. Our environment is less certain and more complex — not more complicated — than business 20 or 30 years ago and there is a need for speed and resilience. Leader-leader is about strategic thinking, delegation, and structured communication. Leaders lead other Leaders, this is the essence of leader-leader.

We find the best personification of leader-leader in Gandalf, the protagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf does not only guide the team throughout their adventure but very often he asks questions and allows other voices to be heard. Despite being one of the wisest minds in the land, Gandalf is not afraid of saying “I don’t know” or “what do you think?”

Gandalf shows himself as a true leader who believes in the potential of others. He doesn’t make any distinctions among them. He knows they are all different, and that each one of them has something to offer to the team.

He knows what to do and when to do it, and he does it. He leads by example. As the story develops we see how other characters also behave as leaders under the leadership of Gandalf.

  • How are you behaving as a leader in your organization?
  • How do you inspire others to be leaders?
  • Are you leading by example or by telling people what to do?



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Victor Boscatt

Victor Boscatt

Transforming automotive mobility through Communication and Employer Branding at CARIAD — A Volkswagen Company.