Horizontal leadership team model

By Robert Farris, Chair & President, CoNimby Foundation

Horizontal leadership is essentially working relationships across organizational boundaries; forcing cooperative worker-owners to treat each other with mutual respect and reciprocity.

Top down command and control leadership has no footing in the cooperative. Here a leader isn’t a permanent title; it’s an experienced based skill-set. It’s a talent based role that is played at any given time by any given person, who the next day must play, equally well, the role of a team member. You have to be good at trusting your fellow worker-owner, and at being trusted. Each worker-owner has to behave as leaders or the cooperative simply won’t succeed.

As a living breathing entity The Ohio Cooperative is a continuously growing environment nurturing all worker-owners to achieve FAME (Hills, 2001). FAME drives homes the team-based learning concept of: Feedback, Achievement, Motivation, and Expertise.  Feedback must be given not only to individual team members but to the team as a whole. Everyone shares in the learning achievement of the team and take pride in their accomplishments. Team motivation is a collective drive to work interdependently and do things for the betterment of the team. Expertise is gained from team experiences and accomplishments. The FAME concept was essential in developing a structure that would allow for self-elevating teams.

A committed unified results driven competent structure is needed to elevate team goals in a collaborative high standard environment. When designing The Ohio Cooperative I remember not only my own military training but what I learned from reading, Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (McChrystal, S. A., Collins, T., Silverman, D., & Fussell, C., 2015). In his book Gen. McChrystal speaks about how he had to discard a century of conventional wisdom and remake the task force into a network that combined transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority.

The horizontal leadership of the teams of teams’ structure allows the cooperative to develop fundamental continuous learning objectives and achievements while maintaining an ecosystem where teams can operative effectively.

Chen, G., Kirkman, B. L., Kanfer, R., Allen, D., & Rosen, B. (2007). A multilevel study of leadership, empowerment, and performance in teams. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(2), 331-346. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.2.331

Hills, H. (2001). Team-based learning. Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Gower.

McChrystal, S. A., Collins, T., Silverman, D., & Fussell, C. (2015). Team of teams: new rules of engagement for a complex world. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.

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