More than 40 companies in the United States alone have 300,000 or more employees. Nearly a dozen organizations in the U.S. boast of more than half a million workers. And you thought you had leadership headaches!
The idea of leading in these organizations boggles the mind until we understand that all large collections of people are organized as teams of teams. No matter how large the business or enterprise, those who lead the way forward direct the team of leaders below them, who in turn lead the team of leaders below them, and so on.
Even in the largest companies by employee size, about 250 leaders can set, communicate and execute strategies so that the entire enterprise runs like a clock. Wrapping your head around the idea of a team of teams is important because it allows us to visualize why the “command and control” style of leadership was always doomed to failure.
In a massively large organization, no one person can make all of the decisions. They must leverage other leaders to do their part. They lead through others or they fail to achieve results.
Here’s the kicker. This is just as true for small teams. Leaders who own all of the decisions and direct all of the traffic become a bottleneck for getting things done. The “command and control” style of leadership, even in small teams, equates to missed opportunities and people who wait around for their next orders.
The world didn’t appreciate how pernicious autocratic leadership really was until exceptionally large organizations offered the final proof of its ineffectiveness. Now, we can admit it produces poor results, for even the smallest of teams. It always did.