Let the Competent Lead

By Atul Bhatnagar   December 7, 2017

Over the last few years at Cambium Networks, we have consistently stated that “competence should lead, not titles.” This approach enables us to select leaders who are most qualified, irrespective of their place in the organizational hierarchy, to drive our breakthrough innovations and revenue growth. But what does this really mean?

Over my career I have had the opportunity to work for amazing companies and collaborate with numerous high-performing teams. In each success there was a consistent theme – the focus was on the mission, driving to a clear achievable end. When we clearly define the mission objectives and select the leader and team  that have the best competence for the mission and appropriate laser-focused execution skills, – the focus is no longer on titles or hierarchy but rather on the mission. Taking this approach allows us to create truly cross-functional teams that are highly skilled, collaborative, results-driven and non-hierarchical.

As Cambium Networks moved into the Wi-Fi space, we had a specific mission to develop the best frictionless Wi-Fi solutions for indoor, outdoor, enterprise, and residential environments, along with our cnMaestro™ software platform that can manage end-to-end network performance. To achieve this mission we had to look at the specific skills the team would require to be successful. We put departmental boundaries, processes and hierarchy aside and assembled a cross-functional team that included foundational, innovative and creative competence. This approach was instrumental in achieving our mission, with cutting-edge products and award-winning software management tools that differentiate us in the marketplace.

We assigned the leadership of the program to the most competent technical manager and not the highest ranking manager. This person in turn recruited an “A-team.” The rest was history. We eliminated functional boundaries and let the team work without silos.

What is the role of a senior managers in this type of setup? In my opinion, they need to use their vast experience to mentor and guide future leaders. They need to work more as a coach than a hierarchical boss. The best strategy for senior leaders is to hire the best, mentor continuously, empower teams and get out of the way. Let the most competent lead, and the probability of success increases significantly.

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