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The flattened hierarchy lives

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Eileen Fisher’s line of radically simple clothing has a pretty radical leadership structure.

Fisher herself stopped designing clothes 20 years ago and says she doesn’t know how to run a business, although her company is manifestly successful.

Still, she decided there was a “need for more structure” when the firm went through a rough patch, so she hired a CEO.

“It was clear after a few months that this was the wrong path,” Fisher says. “He was a lovely guy. He would have been the right CEO for our company if a CEO was the right role for our company.”

Instead, employees would ask her if they had to obey him.

Fisher herself doesn’t like telling people what to do. She comes from a family of seven children who essentially raised themselves.

The model for her company was a family without parents.

“What we’re trying to do with this ­different kind of leadership,” Fisher says, “is to have the leader facilitate the process, so you get the team or the craft team in the room together … generate ideas together, and then figure out who’s going to hold what, who’s going to move what forward.”

— Adapted from “Nobody’s Looking at You,” Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker.

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