Molecular Leadership: Healing a Broken Organization

Yesterday I shared the simple concept molecular leadership, which models an organization less by hierarchy and more by circles of influence. For example, a simple software company may be modeled like this:

The entire structure relies on each of the leads being both teachable and influential within their team. However, what happens if the Development Lead does not carry influence with his team? In the best case, he has simply lost touch and needs simple coaching to get back in place. In the worst case, it may be necessary to completely disregard the company structure and map the more organic circles of influence.

For example, you might find that because the development and QA teams work closely together (and have a surprisingly good relationship), the men take a regular golfing trip together. Draw a circle on your organizational map and label it “Golfers from Dev/QA”.

You might find that the young mothers in the sales and support team interact a lot because of their common challenges in their personal lives. Draw another circle on your organizational map and label it “Young Mothers in Sales and Support”.

As you draw the circles of influence that exist in your organization, pick the circles of influence that are most effective. Find the people who are the influencers within those groups, and find ways to get them under your influence or under the influence of someone close to you.

As you do that, you may find a structure emerge that does not match your org chart, but it will provide an effective strategy for improving the organization. This map becomes the blueprint by which you place people into positions of authority.

Once you have drafted the circles of influence, look for people who are missing from these circles of influence, or who possibly show up only once on the map. These are your islands, and you want to plug them in. Look for ways to get them into a circle of influence.

The same principle can be used with your church. As you map out the circles of influence, look for people who are noticeably absent. These are people who are getting lost in the shuffle. They are not engaged in your church, and they are not contributing to the church’s vision. Worst of all, they are probably not getting the support and encouragement that they personally need to maintain a vibrant walk with the Lord.

When we look to restructure organizations, it is easy to immediately change structure and assume that change will resolve issues. However, this change cannot happen without reestablishing healthy circles of influence that allow life to flow from the heart of the organization to the outer fringes.

Most times, I try to wrap up my posts with a challenge, but this time, I’ll just let you take it and run with it in whatever manner you please! 🙂


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