In an ideal team the leader is acknowledged and accepted by all, and everyone knows where they fit in the structure and accepts their position, and is happy to be where they are.  Like a perfect garden.

Then comes some ambition, and those lower down the structure want to better themselves.  They look with ambition at those senior to them. – And some of that is good.  It means people, like plants, want to grow and improve.

Then comes a seed of dissent.  People get unhappy with their managers and the back-chat starts up – the weed germinates.

If it is allowed to fester, back-chat (like garden weeds) can form into a whole new sub-culture and in extreme cases it develops its own dissenting “leadership”.  Then there are two hierarchies: the official structure and an unacknowledged sub-culture, and this can lead to coercion and bullying.  If unchecked, it certainly will destroy the whole organisation in the end.  (Think of the UK car industry in the 1970s.)

And how to avoid that inevitable end?

  • Keep communication strong
  • Be prepared to take tough measures, such as confronting dissenters and bullies
  • Acknowledge and appreciate good work
  • Be seen to treat everyone fairly and with respect
  • Listen and encourage ideas for improvement from those who actually do the job.

In other words – do your gardening – be a leader.