Menno Lanting Everybody CEO: Network Leadership and the New Organisation

NEW, Business Contact, management, 176 pages, April 2011

Social networks force organizations to change; they empower both customers and employees to an unprecedented level, which asks for a new kind of leadership. Everybody CEO explores the developments in society (chapter 1 to 5) and both the common and the recommended reactions of leaders (chapter 6 to 10). This sequel to Connect! is not a handbook on ‘how to be successful in the digital era’, but offers many case studies of companies that try to find their way in the connected!world.

Press on Everybody CEO ‘Lanting builds on his visionary Connect! and shows Dutch management the way in the new network era’

‘Everybody CEO is essential reading for every manager who wants to get maximum value from intellectual capital within an organization.’


1. The prison that is the industrial age Times have changed: the industrial era (with a focus on goods) has made room for the ‘digital revolution’ (which revolves around information and ideas). Employees have become ‘professionals’; highly educated, ‘hyperconnected’ and autonomous ‘knowledge workers’, who want to integrate their passions in their jobs. The traditional way of managing personnel (top-down and controlling) will no longer do for these professionals. To let them blossom leaders have to trust them; give them the means to connect with each other and the freedom to choose when and where they do their work. Leaders will become coordinators rather than ‘the boss’.

2. Driving backwards uses up petrol too Every change evokes resistance. Many people feel we are at the brink of a new era, yet they still use technical revolutions on a practical level only. Many also worry about the evergrowing individuality and the overload of information that people are exposed to every day. They don’t see the possibilities of social networks to unite and commit people. As any other innovation, the enthusiasm about digital developments follows an ‘Scurve’; first there’s a hype and than interest drops, after which the innovation usually becomes mainstream and the amount of users grows again steadily. Some people mistake the current fall in enthusiasm for social media for the end of the story and fail to recognize the need to fundamentally change their organization.

3. Dare to ask The connected!world is formed through the networks people are part of, networks that are more complex and richer than ever before. Virtual networks derive their strength from their number of not-so-close relationships (other than traditional networks). One person can reach many more than traditional network ever made possible. He can tap into the ‘tacit knowledge’ of the crowd, even if he’s only passively present in a social network (only a small percentage of members in a community is active).

Our society has changed from consumption-based, via experience-based, into human-based, which means people will share more and more information, because they will benefit from it themselves: this forms the ‘econoWe’. The value is in connections between individuals, not in those between companies (anymore).

4. The new organization: from pyramid to pancake The digital revolution makes all kinds of developments possible, such as ‘micromultinationals’ (small companies with a large economic impact, due to the use of social networks) and ‘cloud computing’ (working together without physical presence). But companies often make a mistake thinking that offering their employees flexibility in hours or workspace is enough: they need to facilitate their employees’ needs for self-realisation. New forms of organization that meet the interests of both the company and the professional are needed, such as the ‘protean organization’ (with an unchanging core and a flexible cloud around it) or the ‘informal’, non-hierarchical organization.

5. Network Leadership The connected!world asks for a shift in focus: from command and control to collaborate. Facilitating a shared goal means stepping up when needed and stepping down when not. It also asks of the leader the ability to connect people through an inspiring vision. That requires substantial knowledge of his own product or service, rather than managing skills, as well as the willingness to be an exemplary online networker: a spider in a web. Collective leadership will lead to new career curves; not only vertically or based on seniority, but based on qualities or even themes.

6. Transparency Transparency is a mayor theme of the 21st century. Companies will have to open up, or others will do it for them: peer reviewing can make or break a company. Only organizations that initiate the openness themselves have some control left. On the other hand,

transparency can save a lot on marketing or advertising costs, since positive public feedback is much more powerful. Radical openness still scares some companies, sometimes because they haven’t realised that the old days are gone forever, sometimes because they fear their irrelevance will be exposed. Transparency is strongly connected to accountability: people and companies will be held responsible for what they communicate and they will get feedback on their ideas and actions.

7. Trust Leaders need to start trusting their employees. The X-theory (maximum control over personnel) is no longer successful; the Y-theory is based on the professional’s own ambition, self-organization and self-control. A high expectation apparently leads to a higher result – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The courage to trust employees usually pays off. Leaders (and companies as a whole) need to be trustworthy themselves to stand a chance in de digital era, otherwise peer reviewing will destroy them.

8. Accessibility Leaders and professionals have to show themselves in social networks, but ‘personal branding’ takes some getting used to. However, in the connected!world the boundaries between the collective and the individual dissolve, and everybody will become a contentproducer, resulting in a cognitive surplus that everyone can benefit from. When leaders become accessible (through social network platforms rather than the corporate website), they can reduce the distance between themselves and their employees and customers, show their relevance and set an example.

9. Authenticity and craftsmanship Mass marketing has diminished the amount of trust people have in most companies. Consumers seek meaningful and individual relations through social networks. Companies and professionals are forced to determine their strengths and make an effort to develop

along those lines. They will have to find a way to contribute, by discovering the core of their craftsmanship. If they succeed, they will be authentic and therefore believable, which will give employees and users the possibility to commit to their brand. Leaders have a different role in this process: instead of having all the answers, they have to be able to ask the right questions.

10. Learning together The connection of knowledge in social networks is called social learning. Companies can use the knowledge and commitment of (internal) communities to enhance al kinds of processes in their organization. The growing amount of information does require a filter however; something or someone to prioritise in the endless stream. Here lies a new role for leaders, specially those in middle management: instead of controlling people and processes, their focus will be on connecting the right people to each other and facilitating the transformation into a connected!organization.


Menno Lanting works as a strategist and leadership expert with the boards of various organisations. As an associate he is also affiliated with the leadership institute De Baak and a number of business schools. Themes on which he focuses on are: connectivity, and executive business development, marketing

innovation. In this way he supports organizations in staying connected with the changing world. Lanting brought together his views on these themes in the award winning bestseller Connect! He builds on this philosophy in Everybody CEO.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful