Leadership Philosophies

Leading great teams

We follow a conscious leadership style at MercuryWorks – if you are thinking about joining us, take a look at our philosophies and see if it lines up with your working style.

How We Don't Like to Lead: Command and Control

  • Originated during the Industrial Revolution
  • Focuses on orders, deliverables, tasks, respect for the hierarchy and “accountability” taking the form of frequent and detailed reports to executive management
  • Leaders typically provide a tight definition of work to be performed, impose a high number of constraints and enforce specific modes of working
  • Outcomes are highly defined by leaders and subordinates commit the majority of their effort to achieving the prescribed outcomes

How We Do Like to Lead: Mission Command

  • Combines centralized intent with decentralized execution and promotes freedom and speed of action, and initiative, within defined constraints
  • Team members, understanding the leader’s intentions, their own missions and the context of those missions, are told what effect they are to achieve and the reason why it needs to be achieved
  • They then decide within their delegated freedom of action how best to achieve their missions

More Thoughts on Mission Command

  • Managers at MercuryWorks lack the time, energy, omniscience and inclination required by Command and Control
  • Mission Command is also more empowering to staff and breeds leaders
  • This is typified by the distributed authority and units of work taken by each of our Agile teams
  • Managers are highly empowered to define & distribute team objectives based on company objectives/client needs
  • Customs and culture vary across teams based on their preferred working methods, modes of success and practices they find most effective
  • Team members are also empowered to employ development methods, working styles and approaches that accomplish the team’s mission

The Five Levels of Delegation

When Mercury leaders are on their game and giving you an assignment, you’ll often here reference to a “level of delegation” (all credit is due to Michael Hyatt).  Here are our levels of delegation:

Level 1: Do as I say

This means to do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from my instructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.

Level 2: Research and report

This means to research the topic, gather information, and report what you discover.  We will discuss it, and then I will make the decision and tell you what I want you to do.

Level 3: Research and recommend

This means to research the topic, outline the options, and bring your best recommendation.  Give me the pros and cons of each option, then tell me what you think we should do.  If I agree with your decision, I will authorize you to move forward.

Level 4: Decide and inform

This means to make a decision and then tell me what you did.  I trust you to do the research, make the best decision you can, and then keep me in the loop.  I don’t want to be surprised by someone else.

Level 5: Act independently

This means to make whatever decision you think is best.  No need to report back.  I trust you completely.  I know you will follow through.  You have my full support.

Cultivating Teams vs Workgroups

Organizations that aren’t led by behaviorally unifying leaders wind up creating “workgroups” as opposed to real “teams”.  Workgroups function like a golf team – each player plays their own round and then they all add up their score – whereas teams function like a basketball team where there’s true interaction with each other.

Possibly the most important outcome of having organizational health is that you can have healthy conflict – everyone has to feel like they can have honest conversations with each other.  Not holding back an opinion for the sake of “keeping peace” while at the same time avoiding mean-spirited discussions so that each other’s IDEAS are what’s being challenged.