Lateral Leadership

Leadership in Absence of a Managerial Position

In projects or in specialist teams, situations are increasingly frequently encountered in which employees are given managerial responsibility for achieving goals without being equipped with the hierarchical means of instructional authority and disciplinary responsibility. They find themselves in a lateral leadership position.

Many project and team leaders – especially if they themselves are highly interested in the content and objectives of the project – will soon find their situation very stressful or even overwhelming. They often feel that they are not able to enforce things easily, but are trapped in redundant loops. They are also confronted with resistance from individual team members or their hierarchical superiors, are under pressure from several sides and are supposed to please everybody. 

Often, there is a feeling of being "stuck in the middle" or to be "fighting a losing battle", occasionally accompanied by anger about clients, team members, and one's own powerlessness.


In this situation, it is helpful to reflect upon the following questions: 

  • Who is the client and what is expected of me? What are my goals? 
  • What do I want my role to be? What are the expectations of team members and superiors in this respect? What corporate culture do we have concerning this aspect?
  • How do I feel about having no instructional authority? How do I deal with this? What previous experience do I have with this situation?
  • What can I do, what must I do and what do I want to do – and what should I refrain from doing? 
  • What "values and attitudes" do I base my actions on? Which ones should be lived by the team?
  •  What motivates me, what doesn't motivate me? What motivates the team members, what doesn't?
  • What forms of communication within the team are required for us to be successful?
  • What are my strengths, how can I apply them and develop them? What other strengths are there in the team?
  • What are my weaknesses, how can I keep them in mind and avoid negative effects? Where do we lack competence or resources?
  • How can I achieve greater acceptance? In the line organisation? In the team? In other organisational units? With external employees? 

Seminar: Lateral Leadership

In this in-house seminar, participants work specifically on their inner leadership skills and train the specific competencies associated with them. Some questions to reflect on are: 

  • How do I gain acceptance if I am not formally a manager? 
  • How can I obtain the information necessary for problem solving processes?
  • How do I get managers and colleagues on board for change projects?
  • How do I ensure commitment and the implementation of agreements made?



  • Well-founded theoretical approaches 
  • Exchange of experience and best practice
  • Exercises for lateral leadership
  • Training sequences
  • In-depth work will be done on individual participant situations.

Contact: wolfgang.grilz[at]