Up until the first half of the 20th Century, every organization was organized top-down, with a few people at the top controlling the rest (Laloux 2014). Think The Catholic Church, Governments, The UN or public institutions such as the military and education.
In the second half of the 20th Century, as the burden of work shifted from being more physical to more intellectual, organizations started to engage their employees more (Laloux 2014). Think multi-national corporations and associations.
80% of organizations operate from one of these first two models. Both are based on a 1,000 year old capitalist ‘operating system’ that was designed to extract capital for a few rather than generate value for many. Thus, unsurprisingly, according to Gallup, as few as 13% of employees are engaged in their work today.
In the 21st Century, as work has become more creative, we have seen a rapid rise in leadership that has enabled the entire body of the organization, rather than just the head to contribute. Think Richard Branson, who puts his employees rather than his customers first, because he knows if employees are happy they will make customers happy.
The most visionary organizations don’t depend on one leader to drive them forward. They go one-step further. They move from ‘I’ to ‘we’ and design their organization organically. Leadership circulates between the team depending on the task at hand.