MicroStory – How leaders evolve

Any non-hierarchical management system is missing managers, but like any other non-managerial systems and groups, outside of the work environment, leaders are key to the success of the system. Leaders in non-managerial organizations evolve based on their actions and results. They are not nominated by a higher-level manager and are being enforced on a group of people. They are naturally selected and accepted by a group of people. The process of a naturally evolving leader is one of the fascinating ones to watch, as it results from an unexpected and uncontrolled dynamic between people.

Hire & Onboarding

Sara joined us after a long process that includes people involvement, as her skill set and competencies for several open functions we looked for wasn’t high enough to skip people involvement. She joined us with a lot of excitement and a proven history of significant knowledge in the technical areas we looked to fill. I was selected to onboard her and found a very positive and engaged person. The onboarding process includes several projects she had to accomplish, filling no role and without taking part in the daily activities and current projects.

The team gave her two projects with more architecture focus to ensure she would have a sound understanding of our technical environment. She also had to finish three small technical projects starting from a simple one to an extremely complex one. My role was to support her adoption of our management structure and to get feedback on her projects.

A month after she joined, I saw Matt and Roni, two members of the technical entity Sara was recruited to join. They were in the middle of a discussion about some technical topic as I approached them in the coffee area. “Hi guys,” I said as I approached them. They both replied with a worm “Hi”. So, what do you think about the first technical project Sara finished and on her progress with the first architecture task? I asked both of them. They looked one at each other with a smirk. It took Roni some time to be the first one to speak. “Well, she finished it; but she asked us a lot of questions. We are not sure that she has the right technical knowledge or the ability to learn by herself” Roni replied. Matt acknowledges her finding with head nodes. We already learned that this is a typical response from technical teams, so I thanked them for the feedback and suggested them not to help Sara with her next tasks.

Getting fundamental merit (technical)

“I just can’t believe that” That the words I heard from Benny as he exits a meeting room that I waited patiently to enter for our entity 3 pm meeting. “Yes, This is awesome,” said Roni that follow Benny out of the room. “She is terrific” were the words I heard from Matt as he was pushing himself out of the room. After them, I saw Sara rushing out to another meeting with a motionless face. That scared me a little, so I approach the three and ask them, “So how Sara is doing?”. Benny replied immediately. She presents us with her second technical project, and she took an approach that none of us thought about before. An approach that yields better results of what we are getting today. “Yes” replied Matt. It took Roni more time to reply, “But this is not the most complex problem that she needs to address, let’s wait. I just smiled and replied, Good to hear.” Let me know what you think when she will finish the third task. What about the first architecture task?” Good job on this one as well replied Ronni.

The same day my calendar alerts me to get feedback on Sara tasks, I already got an invitation for a meeting with the title “Discuss Sara projects” set up for the next day. Since I never got an invitation to discuss new Agent tasks, I looked at the invitation list. When I saw Sara’s name, I relaxed and let the next day surprise me.

When I walked into the room, all the four were already sitting in the room waiting for me. After the regular cheat chat, Benny starts the discussion. “We called you for this meeting to discuss Sara performance. Neither You nor Sara knows what we will say. As I know you”, Benny says looking at me, “I assume that you surprised”. Benny waited several seconds and kept on talking. “We know that part of us were cynical in the beginning, but we are really impressed with Sara knowledge and experience in the technical world we recruit her for. We don’t know how we found her, but we are happy that she is part of our team.” I looked at Sara and saw a big smile on her face. “Thank you, guys. I wouldn’t be able to achieve what Benny describe without the help of each one of you, so I want to thank each one of you”, Sara said carrying her smile. The discussion turned into pleasantries, and I know that we manage to onboard another great Agent.

Getting advance merit (Decision making)

Over time Sara expanded her function outside of the technical entity that she was initially hired to join into many functions in other entities that required her professional skills to support the selling of women’s, Kid’s and Men’s shoes. Slowly but continuously Sara proved that her decisions in all the roles she filled were solid. She proved herself. Almost anyone that wasn’t technical sees Sara as an individual with strong decision-making capabilities. It just was a matter of time until Sara calculated merit for decision making was one of the highest across all entities in the company. Non-Technical agents saw Sara as a sounding board for sound decision making, and eventually, she became one of the wanted coaches for decision making.

Two years after Sara joined us it was clear she already owned high merit both in her technical knowledge and in her ability to understand problems, the future and to come with decisions that survive the test of time.

With no nomination, I saw Sara leading complex projects and meetings. She didn’t ask for that, other people saw her advantage and asked her to take the lead. That was very encouraging to see her progress and the merit she owned.

Getting the highest merit (Conflict resolution)

Then something significant happened. The Women’s shoe entity declared conflict resolution process on a decision followed by an action that Man’s shoe entity took. This conflict resolution involved all the agents in those two entities, so the conflict resolution function had difficulties to find an Agent that will run the conflict resolution.

“I never saw something like that!” told me, Anna, as she rushed into my cube. I’m filling the conflict resolution function for two years, and it’s the first time that I suggested an Agent to resolve a conflict, and no one had any objection. On the contrary, everyone was happy with the name I gave as they were sure she will help them, as she did plenty of time in the past. “Let me guess” I replied with a smile, It’s Sara. Anna smiled back at me.

The room was packed as I entered to be part of probably the best show in town that day. A lot of representatives of entities, functions of the galaxy and other guests assembled to see how a conflict that will have a significant impact on the company will run. No one had a clue about the drama they are about to see.

Around the table, I can notice Sara preparing herself for the meeting while exchanging warm smiles and hellos with different people as that entered the room.

She started the meeting precisely on time following the protocol. The objector explains why he objected to the decision and the following actions and proposed an alternative option. The Man’s entity didn’t accept the proposed alternative by the Women’s shoe, so Sara gave each participant in the meeting to convey his point of view on the decision, the conflict, and the proposed alternative. After everyone expresses their opinion, Sara gave Man’s shoe entity representative another opportunity to change his mind, but he didn’t.

Sara started the voting process, around 50 people had to cast their vote, and she gave them 5 minutes to do that. After 10 minutes Sara announced that we have results and the stress level in the room reached its peak. Just people that know Sara very good saw that something is not going well.

Sara started to announce the results. Twenty-one people vote to support the objection, two people didn’t vote, and Twenty-seven people vote against the objection. After factoring the Merit of each entity and agents, the result is a tie. 50% support and 50% vote against the objection. Here, I have to cast my vote and make the final decision. But before I’m doing that, I want to ask the representative of both the Man and Woman’s shoe entities a question in private. Sara and the two representatives left the room and came back after 15 minutes. Sara took her sit and then talk. After asking each one of the representative different question, I made my decision, that I totally feel comfortable with it. I vote to accept the objection.

The room stayed quiet, and people start to leave the room. I did my way to Sara and asked her what her questions were, but she smiled at me and didn’t answer my question. I tried to do the same with the two representatives, without and success. Although the conflict resolution had a lot of influence on the company future, I heard no complaints about Sara decision. People respect her decision and move forward. A new leader was born!

Until now no one except those three knows what Sara asked and what they replay. Whatever she asked though made that two representative supporters of her decision, and Sara a new leader in our company.


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