Horizontal Leadership in a Digital Age

May 5, 2015
| ByMike Ryan

The workspace is changing. In fact it’s less a “space” than it is a collection of resources connected in mind and spirit through digital technologies. All of that is changing the way work gets done and how people perform and relate to one another.

How so? The digital economy is giving greater prominence to the practice of “horizontal leadership”— an employee’s desire and willingness to exercise their influence even when they don’t have the formal authority to do so. Horizontal leadership is critical as people from different departments and disciplines get pulled together to complete projects. If you ask me, evidence of horizontal leadership within the ranks of an organization is one of the most telling indications of a business’s long term health. It means it has people willing and able to step in and get the job done.

Many of today’s younger employees are anxious to demonstrate their leadership skills. As businesses look to encourage and nurture horizontal leaders, they would be smart to not only give them the opportunity to do so, but also the tools they need.

One of the attributes about social recognition systems is that they give emerging leaders the chance to recognize the contributions of others. This helps on two levels: It helps satisfy the employees desire to give their feedback and it also helps companies encourage horizontal leadership within their ranks.

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