The Manager-Less Workplace

Sunday, August 11, 2019; approximately 3:18 pm EST. This is the date and time of the following series of events.

A beautiful Sunday afternoon marks a definitive ‘yes’ to taking our mini golden-doodle Charlie (a.k.a Chuck, Chuckberry, Chuck-a-roni, Chuck Chuckerston, Charles, Charlie Bear, Puppy Baby) for a walk. Armed with poop bags (for Charlie, not me) and sunglasses (for me, not Charlie), we head out and in tow came my iPod…to listen to Humans 2.0 with Mark Metry and guest Naveen Jain (of Moonshot and Viome).

Every step becomes more and more obsolete as I melted into the discussion, the tangents, the passion of the podcast called ‘Disrupting Our World For A Better Tomorrow.’ Sometimes soap boxy, sometimes preachy, always inspirational, Naveen’s words resonated with me. The same passion for making a difference in people’s lives. The same obsession for doing what you love for one intention only – loving what you are doing with your whole being because it is what you were born to do.

47 minutes into the podcast is the pivotal moment – the core of why some people become successful is because of their ability to ask the right question.


This is my mind-blowing moment. By simply changing the question you ask, you change the possibility of the solutions. You change not just what you are looking at, also how and why, when, and where. Now while I knew this to be critically true when I led a Learning and Development department and needed to uncover the depths of why training was being requested…it’s placement at this time and place allowed me to look at something I’ve been working on for a while, in an entirely different light.


You see, up to this point I have been working on sharing everything I have learned and experienced in leadership, and management, through the lens and importance of emotional intelligence development. All of my efforts were toward developing managers’ emotional intelligence so that they lead people better, make a greater impact on workplace innovation, harness the power of each individuals’ potential, and behave 100% consistently as their authentic selves. I thought to myself “Self…you need to share this breakthrough with someone. Who’s going to get with you on this exploration?” Immediately I messaged Mike Vacanti, Founder HumansFirst Club (and more). This is a snapshot of that message via LinkedIn.

Light discussion?!? Indeed it was going to get real deep, real fast. And I was pumped. Within 36 hours, we were off and running. Discussing this topic like champs. Being open and curious, asking a bunch of questions, exploring the possibilities, telling our stories, countering one thought with another one. Here are some paraphrased exchanges during that conversation…

Me: “Hey!!! I am so excited to speak with you and pick your brain; this is going to be too awesome!!!” (insert squeaky eeeeeeek sound)

Mike: “I’m so grateful to have you 1-on-1 because I’m really connecting with your energy and the way you think during our posts, comments, and HumansFirst discussions.

Mike: “We know how business works.”

Me: “I’m not sure we know how business works. We know how it’s structured, however, it’s not really working is it?”

Mike: “I’ve been thinking about this question “Why do companies need leaders?” and my brain has been fired up since you sent it to me Sunday. I think when we dissect it, and I just came up with this term which I think I’m going to add to my book, we see that PRESCRIPTIVE AUTHORITY is why a manager exists – it’s control, and that is what isn’t working. If you remove this, allowing the real potential of each individual to expand, then likely, everything can be done better without a manager.”

Me: “That’s brilliant! Can I get a footnote in your book?”

Mike: “Yes!”

p.s. This is now officially recorded.

Me: “What if we were to onboard people in an entirely different way. What if onboarding into a workplace was all about the individuals’ growth toward their capacity, to reach their optimum, to develop their EQ so that needing a manager, needing a leader, a formally appointed one, was no longer necessary? What if we were to really dig into the principles of AGILE: self-organizing, self-orienting, self-discipline/accountability? Could you imagine an onboarding program that did that for each person?”

Mike: “That’s blowing my mind.”

p.s.s This response is completely paraphrased because I do not recall the exact words that came from Mike…I just remember his face. It looked like I just blew his mind.

That evening, on our way to dinner, I proceeded to retell this conversation with Mike, to my husband. Our exchange is fast and furious. We are both extremely excited. And then my husband directs me towards Gore-Tex, letting me know that this company and the man who established it, has a workplace model that is similar to what we’re talking about. “You should definitely check it out.”


Teresa Quinlan
Teresa Quinlan
Teresa Quinlan, Executive Coaching, Leadership Development, Speaker, Consultant. An Entrepreneur and Founder of her personal brand and the formula IQ+EQ=TQ, Teresa is passionate about emotional intelligence as the key ingredient to leveraging your IQ and personality and achieving the greatest levels of performance success. Teresa has been focused on transforming individuals, teams, and organizations to greater levels of performance since 1998 and has experienced leading teams and organizations through the highest of highs and the most challenging changes. Having spent over 25 years cultivating a rich and diverse set of skills, knowledge, behaviours, coaching and training new and experienced leaders, and mentoring, Teresa has developed shoot straight coaching, training, and mentoring techniques which foster opportunities for sustainable behavioural changes that lead to exceptional results; whether these results are to improve an individual's overall sense of well-being, a teams ability to be innovative, collaborative, self-organizing and self-directing, or an organizations ability to truly live their values throughout every uphill battle and downhill celebration. The road for Emotional Intelligence can being with the EQi-2.0 assessment; providing the baseline markers for one’s current EQ skill set. Development of EQ is done in many ways including: 1:1 Coaching, lEQdership – Leadership Development through Emotional Intelligence Program, Webinars, Speaking Engagements, Team coaching, and consultation. Listen to TNT ESQ podcast with co-host Rhys Thomas on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, and more.

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  1. Okay, Teresa, I love this for SO many reasons, but first and foremost, because I feel like I just got a wonderful dose of YOU! Your writing is such a wonderful reflection of the amazing, energizing woman you are in life, which was a wonderful way to start the day. So this brought up two things for me! One, is that if eliminate managers, this requires our LEADERS to take a stronger role in communicating purpose and vision and ensuring everyone feels that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Secondly, I think this goes way beyond the onboarding process, it requires a completely different recruiting/hiring process. Instead of looking for someone who simply has the skills you’re looking to hire to do a job, you need to hire for their CAPACITY and DESIRE to learn and grow. That is a very different type of candidate. It opens up the hiring pool in a totally different way because candidates that might have likely been overlooked in the old-way-of-thinking, now rise to the top. Good stuff! You’ll have my wheels turning for weeks!