Leading teams without authority

Lateral leadership skills are what you need to get the job done when you are not the boss of the team

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Roger Fisher, the world's leading expert on win-win negotiation, partners with Alan Sharp in Lateral Leadership (1998, 2004) to identify three fundamental problems with collaboration in organisations and what you can do to fix them:

  1. Lack of personal skills
  2. Not knowing what good collaboration looks like
  3. Not knowing how to influence the behaviour of others


The logic runs like this:

Firstly if you lack personal disciplines and cannot organise yourself you are going to find it even harder in a team.

Secondly even if you have good personal skills it is no guarantee you can collaborate well.

Thirdly even if you are collaborating well the team will not succeed unless the other members are doing the same and for this to happen you need influencing skills.


Roger shows how 'telling' does not inspire others to learn new behaviour and offers three practical methods which work much better in successfuly influencing others:

  1. Ask a good question
  2. Offer your own thoughts and invite people to build on them
  3. Do something which will serve as a model for better behavior


Roger suggests that for peer collaboration to work well a team must pay close attention to 5 key dimensions in the following sequence Purpose, Thinking, Learning, Engagement and Feedback.


I strongly recommend this book to anybody leading teams whether you are a team leader with formal authority, or are a team leader without formal authority or even just a team member.


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Organisational teams: thin slice for responsiveness

 Organisational teams: thin slice for responsiveness

Humans and animals do not need complete information to act; they can operate on various clues provided there is a sufficient context. Organizational teams can also use this thin slicing technique in conjunction with short messaging to enhance their performance. Malcolm Gladwell’s introspective book Blink digs deep into the abyss of human cognition to illustrate the human ability to think at a subconscious level. The idea of thin slicing is used where one is introduced to only a few snippets of information which lead to a series of conclusions based on moments of rapid cognition – an ability claimed to be intrinsically dormant in most humans. By bioteams guest author Max Bhanabhai.


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