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  • Book
  • © 2015

Leading When You're Not the Boss

How to Get Things Done in Complex Corporate Cultures

  • Learn how to lead in business situations that are outside the remit of vertical hierarchies

  • Blend the techniques of lateral leadership with classic management practices to optimize innovation, complexity management, and efficiency in specific business situations

  • Flourish in nonhierarchical and ambiguously-hierarchical organizational contexts in which professional and personal growth fuels innovation and growth in the enterprise

Buying options

eBook USD 29.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-4842-1748-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 37.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Table of contents (10 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xv
  2. Zombies at the Workplace

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 1-10
  3. Leader, Know Thyself

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 23-29
  4. Alpha Dogs

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 57-66
  5. Let Talent Lead! Promoting Self-Organizing Teams

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 67-84
  6. Lateral Leadership

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 85-91
  7. Up and Down

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 113-117
  8. Conclusion

    • Roger Strathausen
    Pages 119-121
  9. Back Matter

    Pages 123-126

About this book

Answer the questions that arise when managers and workers need to adjust to unfamiliar leadership roles and rules in flattened organizational forms. Leading When You’re Not the Boss provides a conceptual framework that you can apply when assessing your own organizations and work. The book discusses the underlying ideas necessary for a shift from a culture of hierarchies to one of relationships and the establishment of intrapreneurial and holistic work environments. 

This book supports the trend in many corporations toward flattening parts of their traditional top–down hierarchical management systems into more egalitarian, democratized, and distributed organizational forms. It analyzes the weaknesses of "management" culture at a time of ever more rapid change and complexity in the business world and illustrates how flattened organizational units increase agility, innovation, and efficacy. Moreover, it discusses how individuals can exercise effective leadership despite lacking the command-and-control authority of conventional bosses and ways for organizations to cultivate effective "post-management" cultures. 

Especially in the technology sector, large projects have become too complex to be mastered by any single leader. Drawing on his experience as a senior manager and executive consultant for a number of Fortune Global 500 companies, Roger Strathausen analyzes the situations and benefits that motivate companies to adopt flattened organizational forms. He shows that empowering a multi-talented group to manage itself by horizontal cooperation can deliver products with more speed, efficiency, innovation, and nimbleness than a solo boss could, while yielding higher employee productivity and retention rates.

With an entertaining mix of real-world examples and an episodic HBR-style fictitious case study, the author illustrates throughout the book how his leadership lessons can be serviceable only when intelligently tailored to the dynamic complexities of specific situations, including the personalities and competencies of the people involved. 

What You'll Learn

  • How to tailor the techniques of shared leadership to specific business situations rather than treating them as iron rules
  • How to flourish in nonhierarchical and ambiguously-hierarchical organizational contexts that encourage individual initiative for the joint benefit of the enterprise and personal professional growth
  • How success and fulfillment at work are enhanced by organizational forms in which participants assess the situational relevance of their respective talents and actively apply them to group objectives in lateral cooperation with peers, as opposed to passively receiving orders from appointed bosses


Who This Book Is For

The primary readerships for this book are business leaders and managers at all levels in corporations and non-managerial professionals who work in self-directed teams.

The secondary readerships are practitioners, consultants, and academics interested in the topics of human resources, organizational design, and the future of work.


  • lateral leadership
  • participatory management
  • holocracy
  • self-organizing team
  • post-management
  • human resources
  • command-and-control hierarchies
  • talent strategy
  • corporate culture
  • situational
  • organizational design
  • hybrid management systems

About the author

Roger Strathausen is a business consultant with expertise in organizational design, process modeling, corporate universities, talent strategy, coaching, functional team building, and post-management leadership whose clients are chiefly multinational companies. He was previously a senior manager at Accenture and an external consultant at SAP. Dr. Strathausen lectures on leadership, management, HR, and learning at the Technical University of Berlin, the University of Applied Sciences for Engineering and Economics (HTW Berlin), and the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HTW). He previously lectured at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Kaiserslautern. Strathausen took his PhD from Stanford University while on Fulbright and Stanford Dissertation Fellowships and his MA from the University of Tübingen.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Leading When You're Not the Boss

  • Book Subtitle: How to Get Things Done in Complex Corporate Cultures

  • Authors: Roger Strathausen

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Apress Berkeley, CA

  • eBook Packages: Business and Economics, Business and Management (R0), Apress Access Books

  • Copyright Information: Roger Strathausen 2015

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-1-4842-1747-4Published: 27 November 2015

  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4842-1748-1Published: 27 November 2015

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XV, 126

  • Number of Illustrations: 14 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Business Strategy and Leadership, Human Resource Management

Buying options

eBook USD 29.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-1-4842-1748-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 37.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)