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5 Reasons Companies Thrive When Everyone Gets to Lead Disbanding traditional corporate management structure encourages innovation and involvement among employees on the lowest rungs of the hierarchy.

By Dave Mattson Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The traditional corporate structure in the workplace is ready for a change. With millennials entering the workforce, there is a resounding call for a structural shakeup. These young professionals have a lot to say and they want to have their voices heard. Successful companies are noticing this. Instead of only paying attention to GPA's, they are looking for critical thinking and problem-solving skills in new hires. Working as a team and allowing leadership behaviors to naturally develop gives employees the chance to be heard, no matter their level of seniority.

Zappos, an online retailer, is one example of how shaking up the established business hierarchy has helped a company evolve. Zappos announced in 2013 that it was getting rid of all management positions. Instead, it adopted a new style of office organization called "Holacracy." This innovative organizational structure uses a system of overlapping, self-governing circles. Holacracy arranges a company around the work that needs to be done, instead of by who should do it. This system allows for employees to play to their own strengths and let their individual talents shine through. It also permits natural leaders to emerge, regardless of their level of experience.

Here are five reasons why you should consider a non-traditional leadership system for your organizations:

1. Leadership encourages teamwork.

By giving even entry-level employees leadership opportunities, a company is working towards a stronger team. People are much more likely to respect each other when they view their co-workers not just as management titles but as teammates working toward a common goal.

Managers are not always leaders, and leaders are not always managers. Giving employees the chance to reveal their natural leadership tendencies is a great way to build a level playing field in the office.

Related: When Doing Right Turns Out to Be Very Wrong

2. Create an even playing field.

Most people don't respect managers in the typical "leader" position. Lower level employees often view them as bossy and more of an annoyance than a helpful presence. Giving everyone the discretion to make decisions and be their own leaders allows for a more equal workplace. Each employee has something that they can contribute to the team. Allowing them to shine individually will make for a stronger team overall.

3. Leadership at all levels promotes openness.

Allowing leadership at all levels promotes openness and allows everyone to work together, regardless of how many years they have been with the company. Another advantage of allowing leadership to develop at all levels and cutting out unnecessary management is that there is no longer a place for slacking employees to hide. Laziness and a bad work ethic will be noticed and reported by an entire team of people, instead of the previous reporting focal point of a manager.

Many times, bad employees slip under the radar, as managers may not notice or simply ignore their lack of dedication. With leadership abilities given to everyone in the workplace, any employee is free to speak up about issues and they can work together as a team to solve the problem at hand.

Related: Looks Like Zappos' Self-Management System Isn't for Everyone

4. Higher motivation for younger employees.

Recognizing leadership even at lower levels in the company can give new employees more motivation. If their ideas and suggestions are heard and valued instead of dismissed, they will be more willing to speak up in the future with helpful tips. In contrast, if they are repeatedly ignored or put down for contributing to a workplace conversation, they will become unmotivated and uninterested. Allowing for the growth of managerial skills in lower-level employees can alleviate workplace boredom and give them decision-making freedom.

5. Constant development for entire company.

Allowing for leadership with every employee promotes growth for the entire company. With everyone from entry-level to senior staff members contributing to company goals, the business will have an abundance of new ideas to pick from. Creative interactions between co-workers will become more commonplace, leading to better work and more consistently positive changes. Even though entry-level employees are regularly viewed as novices in the workplace, these new recruits can often spot internal company mistakes. This outsider's opinion should be valued, as they have a unique perspective that mid-and upper-level employees may no longer see.

Companies must be adaptable and aggressive to succeed in the ever-changing business climate. Giving employees at all levels the chance to be leaders will give your company more chances for creative solutions and success. It also keeps employees from being trapped in fixed attitudes or habits.

If the company is promoting growth and leadership, each employee will feel encouraged to produce new ideas. When leadership is fostered on a company-wide level, your entire business, along with every employee, can flourish and grow. Don't forget that each employee in a company has a unique view. If each one is allowed to share their voice, you can get a more complete picture of your business.

Related: The Bossless Workplace: A New Frontier

Dave Mattson

CEO and President

Dave Mattson is the CEO and president of Sandler Training, a global training organization with more than three decades of experience in providing training to companies of all sizes throughout the world.

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