Serendipity: Apparent Coincidence

I’ve discussed the difference between a boss and a leader before in a post before, in todays post I’ll zoom in a bit deeper on leadership (or management) styles. First I’ll explain a model called the leadership continuum, later I’ll talk about a management-style which I believe works best in order to lead creative, inspired and innovative projects.

Leadership Continuum

The leadership continuum is a model that defines various styles of leadership or management based on how much freedom you give team-members:


Basically, the way of leading goes (from left to right) like this: tell – sell – test – teach – consult – join – free-rein.

Apparent Coincidence

Even though I’m not (yet) convinced that absolute free-rein is desirable as a leading style, I think the best way to manage a group once the boundaries of the project are defined is by managing as little a possible. Or as John Hunter wrote in this post:

My main focus when managing my software development team was to let the team be. My most important task was to ensure that the developers had a clear vision of our business aims, what the priorities were, then get out of the way and give people uninterrupted time to do their work.

Most of what I needed to do simply required listening, observing, thinking, and sometimes deciding. Action wasn’t high on the list. My goal was to intervene as little as possible, and then only when doing so would optimize the whole system.

I wanted to make sure the developers had an environment that allowed them to succeed: the resources they needed, the time they needed, coaching when they needed it, freedom from unreasonable demands, the opportunity to take risks, and protection when something didn’t work.

Still, I stepped in more than I wanted to. I’m still learning. And by managing even less, I know I’ll become more effective.

In a purpose-driven economy, work is more and more project-based. Projects require both experts and aim. The best way to get a project done is by separating those two. Be the expert OR the guy that gives directions. Once experts are free from administration, they’ll do stuff you are not able to. When leading a project, be as invisible as possible. If the project looks like one wonderful coincidence, you’re doing a great job.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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