I have blogged a lot on this site about the collapse of hiearchical structures, especially within the Church, and the rising level of leadership from the bottom. I see this change in structure as a good thing and I saw a couple of good posts over the weekend.

First, Hugh Hewitt has a great piece on his blog that was written by Randy Elrod. Here is just a sample from his post, The Death of the Alpha Leader, but make sure you read the whole thing.

Servant leaders have the ability to provide a new type of leadership. A collaborative mentoring and releasing of people with varied and mystical gifts in order to create culture. Alpha leaders value control, servant leaders value collaboration. Alpha leaders value individualism, servant leaders value community. Alpha leaders value affluence, servant leaders value influence.

After reading his post, what are you initial thoughts? Is this a new concept to you, or are you “on board” for lack of a better term?

Second, Hugh Hewitt links a very fascinating interview in the Wall Street Journal with Clay Shirkey who just authored Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (which I just started reading–it is a great book). The title of the interview is Wisdom on Crowds: What CEO’s Need to Know About the Social Web. Here is the snippet that Hugh links:

Buzzwatch: Sum up the basic changes you’re talking about.

Mr. Shirky: My five word summary of the book is: Group action just got easier. The thesis is that humans are natively good at doing things in groups. We know how to share, collaborate, converse. So whenever you get a new tool or technology that makes it easier for people to share or collaborate, you’re going to see a lot more of that going on. The Internet–and increasingly, mobile phones–have provided us with a platform of huge new tools and services to do exactly that. So we’re seeing now the first phase of experimentation and people saying, “What can we build on top of these tools?”

Buzzwatch: What does a CEO need to understand about the ways collaboration is changing?

Mr. Shirky: There are two different big things. The first is: Inside your hierarchy is a network. This isn’t about networks replacing hierarchies–we’re still going to have managers and promotions. But particularly for large companies, there’s a lot of value that can be unlocked by letting employees work with one another. There were two research groups at IBM separated by the Atlantic Ocean–one in Armonk and one in the U.K. They were working on the same problem, but of course they didn’t know that. They employed a tool IBM built called Dogear, a tagging tool. These two groups discovered–without any managerial oversight–that they were working on the same problem. They said, “Why don’t we get together and collaborate?” That’s the kind of enterprise value that can’t be driven by the manager. In any complicated field, the people you’re managing know more about the problem than you do. This is a way of getting at that value.

The outside message is: Your customers, who have previously been relatively separated from one another, with their principal connection to you, may start becoming your competitors or your collaborators. CEOs need to be in the position of understanding what might happen and then try to work out strategies for the threats and for the opportunities.

I think the last part is very telling in the context of the Church. Before, laypeople usually had to go through the hierarchy of the Church structure to get things done, approved, ask permission, etc. This doesn’t need to happen anymore.

Example: Students can come to me with some ideas, which then I need to sometimes get approval through a committee, etc. That can take days, even weeks. Or they can go online and use one of the many tools (in this case, usually Facebook) and take care of it that same day by harnessing a large number of other students, and then begin collaborating. All without needing to coming to me, and often without me knowing.

I think this is a good thing. I think what we will see is not a disappearance of authority (because I think most of us would agree that authority is important to any structure at some level), but rather a disappearance of the hierarchical structure or organizational chart that is commonplace.

And in fact, let me say this:

I find it to be true that the more power and authority one gives away, the more authority, respect and power they will have (hmmmm…I guess Jesus knew what he was doing when it came to his style of leadership).

So the more we collapse some of these structures, and begin to give our power and authority away, then will I think we will really see a collaborative work in the body of Christ like is described in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, or at the end of Acts 2.

What are some ways that you have been able to create a more collaborative environment in your workplace or church? Can you give some examples that have worked? And what were some of the failures? Successes? Fears?