Leader Volume 8, Number 8
You a Lateral Leader?
Sloane (residing in Camberley, England) is Vice President
International for MathSoft Inc.
He has authored eight books on lateral thinking and
lateral thinking puzzles, and he speaks on the use of lateral
thinking in business. His home page is dspace.dial.pipex.com/sloane.
There are many
styles of management. Different
CEOs with markedly different styles can be successful in similar
companies or in the same company.
The same person might adopt different styles in different
example you would not manage the Cub Scoutsí softball team the
same way that you manage a project team to update your
companyís computer systems.
There is no one correct way to manage. Ultimately the
right way to manage is one that works for you and which works
for the organization in delivering the goals you set out to
It is always
worthwhile to step back and review your personal management
style and to ask how effective it is in managing your team and
achieving your collective goals.
As an aid in this process, letís contrast two extremes
of style that we have designated as the conventional leader and
the lateral leader. The
conventional leader is easily recognizable as goal-oriented,
authoritative, and decisive who is well suited to a structured
regime (e.g., the military).
The lateral leader, on the other hand, adopts a different
approach to reaching goals.
He or she is much more focused on the creativity and
innovation of the team.
To which end of
this spectrum do you belong?
If it is the conventional leader, then perhaps you should
consider adopting more of the lateral leaderís precepts and
conventional leaderís approach is fine for improving
operational efficiency in a well-defined environment.
However, the more innovative your organization needs to
be, the more of the lateral leader you should be.