Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Leadership: A Lateral Perspective

An alternative to the traditional vertical organizational structure is known as a lateral or horizontal structure. In this structure, the different departments are administered by project managers who report to an upper management and serve as a conduit between the team and the administrators.  This approach has its own pros and cons. 


  • This approach tends to reinforce creativity and innovation because employees are more willing to take risks when they know that they won’t lose status in doing so.
  • The organization can better adapt to changes in circumstances because communication does not have to go through as many filters.
  • Employees have a greater feeling of stake in the organization.
  • Employees have a greater sense of autonomy which can lead to greater development of a wide array of skills.


  • When something goes wrong, the lack of a clear structure can lead to blaming of different teams and departments.
  • Decision-making can be a slow process.
  • The lack of authoritarian supervisors can lead to an undisciplined and chaotic work environment.
  • Transitions from vertical to horizontal organization structures can be difficult because those used to authoritarian management styles find it difficult to adjust to seeing co-workers as peers.

Know Your Employees

Regardless of which organizational structure you employ, in order to lead effectively, it helps to know your employees on a personal and professional level. Obviously, with larger corporations, the former is more difficult than the latter, but taking the time to get to know your employees as people can help inform your decision-making in ways that not only affect employee morale but also help in crafting more effective approaches. If you understand what it is like to work on the front lines, you can better address problems in a way that does not create additional problems. Keeping abreast of what goes on in your employees’ lives can also help you in addressing each person as an individual.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

No comments: