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Kevin Crenshaw’s aptly titled Neverboss supplies antimatter to counterbalance the matter of traditional command-and-control bureaucracy. It acknowledges the existence of hierarchy—and then conclusively demonstrates myriad ways to make it effective, agile and vibrant. It promises to demonstrate how to turn hierarchy from a liability into an asset.

His book is aimed at leaders who want to be effective executives (as once described in the classic Peter Drucker book of 1966—The Effective Executive), but don’t have the freedom or the risk tolerance to play with organizational self-management. Neverboss gives these leaders organizational, leadership and cultural hacks that drive them right up to the precipice of self-management while still solidly remaining on the perceived terra firma of traditional management.

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Organizational Self-Management Recipe: Hearty Commitment Gumbo


Commitment keeping comprises a large portion of the gumbo of effective organizational self-management. In turn, that rich, tasty and satisfying gumbo of commitment is ultimately what holds an organization together in a virtuous cycle of networked collaboration.

Virtually every leader regards integrity as a crucial stakeholder and employee characteristic. What is the source of integrity and trust? Keeping commitments. Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People describes integrity as “making our actions conform to our words” (related to but distinct from honesty, which is about making our words conform to reality).

Integrity means making sure that one’s actions reflect what they have already communicated they will do for others. Reality matches words. People that keep commitments consistently brand themselves as reliable, and develop reputations as persons of integrity.

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Leading With Heart

Soul-Centered LeadershipR. Michael Anderson’s book, Soul-Centered Leadership, offers a unique take on leadership congruent with organizational self-management. His chapter on Self-Leadership talks about the illusion of control—the futility of trying to control others. It’s very possible to control oneself. Trying to control others, especially at work, represents wasted energy. Influence through action, not control, is a core leadership principle. A corollary is the concept of taking ownership by focusing on things that are actually within one’s control in order to develop leadership muscles.

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Haier Elevation


A hungry dragon is stirring in the Far East. Its name is Haier.

In the fall of 2012, I visited Haier (pronounced “higher”) headquarters in Qingdao, China to meet its legendary Founder and CEO, Zhang Ruimin, its Cofounder Ms. Yang Mian Mian, and other key leaders to discuss and debate the theory and practice of organizational self-management.

Accompanied by Leighton Gao, senior manager of Haier’s Corporate Culture Center (and interpreter extraordinaire), my hosts arranged a tour of the Haier heritage center, where visitors are greeted by a giant sledgehammer—symbol of Haier’s birth in 1984. Walking through the center and reflecting on Haier’s journey, one feels the power of their story from humble origin to global business legend.

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