Leadership and Conformity

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership


I’ve been noticing quite a few articles on the Holacracy movement.  As always, some are well balanced and researched, and others take sides with little research and lots of opinions. Right now, for me, I’m more interested in the results being achieved by those brave enough to experiment with this new organizational concept.

Perhaps the most talked-about implementation is at Zappos. I’m waiting to see how this shakes out before putting too much energy into learning about the present implementation guides. But here’s what I do know — the incredibly easy access to information and the need to accelerate decision making along with highly flexible business models means the old “command and control” hierarchies have to go away.


To conform is to die as we go forward. What we might have in common is — yep! — flexible frameworks for our organizations that make sure employees at every level have requisite information and the ability to make decisions to serve customers. Leadership in the coming decades will be about developing other leaders, not

Holacracy and Reinventing Organizations

followers. It will be about Intent-Based Leadership rather than a specific detailed direction.

Holacracy is of interest to me because it requires that our employees self-manage. However, as David Marquet clearly states, to develop that kind of responsive organization, we must ensure that our employees have clarity of organizational vision and mission and technical competency. What I see as the enabling catalyst in all this is access to timely, accurate, and relevant information. What a potent combination. Think about that. All levels of the organization have access to pertinent data, all employees are thinking and proactively using that information better to serve the organization’s stakeholders, and the employees have all the technical competencies required to fulfill their assignments. Oh, and the ability to re-shape those assignments as the environment dictates.


That’s a powerful vision, yes? Now think about the work that you, in a leadership position, have to do to realize that dream. Modern companies, to survive in this technology and data-driven world, must cultivate authentic leadership throughout the whole organization. And the flexibility to respond instantly to accelerating change. It will be interesting to watch what transpires at Zappos.

[Lightly edited in 9/2020 for our new website.]