Who is Top Dog

topdogThis is the latest post in the current series of my musings on leadership. I’m sorry it isn’t connected to my farm, but it is important nonetheless.
When we consider an organisation we think of it in hierarchical terms: Director -> Head of Function (HOF) -> Senior Management -> Line Manager -> Team; the “bosses” read left to right. But let us consider the importance of the levels of the hierarchy in day to day business.
The Directors see to the long term direction of the company. They make sure that the business meets the future expectations of the investors and come up with a 3-5 (or beyond) year plan. This generally means that if a director went AWOL for six months or so, they wouldn’t really be noticed (sorry folks!). After that the company would drift away from the long term aims and it would take radical measures to bring it back on course.
The HOFs work on a medium term plan to implement measures which guide the company along the long term plan of the directors. This means that a HOF could be AWOL for three months and not be missed too much. After that, the long term plan could be put in jeopardy.
Senior management are closer to the day to day, but could get away with a month’s sabbatical before the function feels the impact.
Line managers tend to plan work a few weeks ahead so they could get a couple of weeks of well-earned rest.
The discourse above does not concern itself with some of the day to day issues that are escalated for resolution because if there was no one to escalate to, the team would sort it out anyway!
Now, when we consider the team, if they all went missing for just one day, we would instantly notice the impact. Without the teams and the individual colleagues, we are nothing. It has become a bit of a cliché, but the people are the company. Without the fantastically talented people in the business, we have no business.
In the end we must consider this as we work our way up the greasy pole of the hierarchy: we do not become the boss of more people; we actually serve more people. This is because our success relies upon the efforts of those “below” us. It is up to us to equip our teams with the tools and skills to support the weight of the business above them. They need to be nurtured and supported to work at their peak and therefore allow the hierarchy above them to deliver the short, medium and long term objectives of the business.
So, who is the Top Dog?

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