Leadership is defined by followership.
In most companies, people are given authority and thus are made the explicit leaders. However, giving people authority doesn’t make them a leader. They are only leaders if there are people that want to follow them. These implicit leaders exist in every organization, and they are vital for the success of a company.
At PIRATE, we make the implicit explicit. That’s why you aren’t just given authority. To be a leader at PIRATE, you have to earn followership and respect. Again and again.
You become a leader because you have unique strengths, and are acknowledged for them by your peers. This also means that leaders don’t tell the organization what to do. Leaders have to lead through influence and clear reasoning. As different topics have different leaders, who is driving the situation at PIRATE is very situational. This doesn’t mean we don’t have hierarchies. We do. But they are a lot more fluid and temporary, not rigid and permanent.
As leaders, we work for people. People don’t work for us. Once in a leadership position, the goal is not to forge followers. Instead, the goal is to create more leaders. As such, it is about giving control rather than taking it.
Ideally, everybody in the company will be leading in some area. This empowers people, improves the work environment and eventually leads to better results for the whole company. As a side effect, hidden potential get revealed much faster.
A great example of this is how we handle job titles at PIRATEx. Essentially, we don’t have any. People have responsibilities, not titles. Usually, job titles are a status game. An external factor used to boost ego but not produce better results. That’s why changing a job title causes a lot of friction and leads to unhealthy compromises. Responsibilities can naturally shift and develop over time without anybody losing face.