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Culture Is What You Step Over: Creating a Healthy Business Structure

Discover how a shift from a "leader-follower" to a "leader-leader" model transformed the communication within our management team, fostering a collaborative and continually nurtured company culture.

Ryan and Dan Davenport stand outdoors at Davenport Associates
Ryan Davenport (left) and Dan Davenport (right)

Ten years ago, our management team faced a problem. We were not communicating effectively. Although we believed we were communicating, our team had devolved into a "leader-follower" dynamic with my brother and I issuing orders and expecting our management to execute them. We aspired to follow the "leader-leader" model as described by David Marquet in his book "Turn this Ship Around!" However, we practiced the leader-follower approach. Our team was frustrated and underperforming due to our admittedly high standards.


A friend suggested I meet a management team "coach," Bob Scoville. After a cup of coffee I realized I had to talk my brother into investing in bringing Bob in to meet with our management team. Dan, ever the skeptic, was initially not thrilled with the idea. Ironically, he realized that Bob was precisely what we needed while simultaneously arguing as to why we didn't need him.


Bob instilled some basic (yet challenging) principles into our team meetings: Be present, be open, and listen. When Dan and I prioritized listening over speaking, we found that our team could identify both problems and excellent solutions if freed from the leader-follower dynamic.


Like all things worth achieving, changing the way our management communicated together was not easy. It required time and discipline but resulted in shared trust and a significant performance boost as our management team introduced the leader-leader model to the employees on their teams. Changing the way our team communicated laid the groundwork for us to develop the four principles by which Davenport Associates operates daily. It made us realize that a healthy company culture is collaborative and nurtured continually.

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