There are many opportunities for us to examine and learn from leadership styles, organizational structures, operational procedures, and effective leadership skills.

With that in mind, let’s examine just how the Nottingham Merger came about.

Although this data is dated, it shows us how two different approaches can be merged into one successful organization. The primary agents in this analysis are two CEOs, Prince Jon and Robin Hood.

Inflexible and Slow Leadership Styles

Let’s look at Prince John first.

We’re not really interested in the suspect means by which Prince John became CEO, but rather we’ll examine a particular moment in time where he is already Prince in England.

These two individuals, Prince John and Robin Hood, bring their leadership styles in contact and conflict in an area of Nottingham near Yorkshire England.

Prince John’s organization is made of two groups: those in power, and those who are sharecroppers and villagers. His business is that of taxing the sharecroppers and villagers far beyond their means in order to build up his treasury.

The organization itself takes a bureaucratic hierarchical construction. It is inflexible and slow to respond to any changing or volatile environment.

Ego and Wealth

Prince John is mostly concerned about how those that will have power in his organization view him and in turn get their necessary authority from him.

So he elects to use a power and control method of leadership. He is not concerned about anything but accomplishing the necessary tasks that will bring him personal success. To that end, Prince John begins to build an in-group of like-minded individuals that will work tirelessly to build his ego and wealth.

He creates this group of individuals to manage the rest of his organization through fear and intimidation. This group is headed by the sheriff of Nottingham.

The sheriff, who derives all of his authority and power directly from Prince John, is willing to use power and control ruthlessly to accomplish the goals Prince John has laid out for him.

Environment of Fear

As conflict arises within the organization stirred by Robin Hood and his merry men, Prince John uses heavy handed methods by taxing his constituents more and more creating an environment of fear.

As Robin and his men take more money meant for Prince John from tax collectors as well as the rich, Prince John puts more pressure on his organization to produce even more revenue or face severe consequences.

The inflexibility and bureaucratic structure is difficult to manipulate in this fast changing and newly competitive environment.

By legislating how things are to be completed, Prince John can maintain a stable organization, but one which created nothing new nor can adapt rapidly to competitive change.

Flexible and Creative

Robin Hood takes a very different approach, one that is entrepreneurial. Robin’s organization is much more flexible and creative. He sees Prince John’s organization as highly structured and unable to react quickly.

Robin wants his organization to be able to make decisions that may impact his whole organization on a local basis without fear of repercussions. He believes his organization continually outmaneuvers the sheriff of Nottingham in almost all situations.

His goal is to create instability in the competitive environment forcing Prince John’s organization to adapt rather than gain any permanent profitable means for market consolidation.

Robin knows that if he can delay Prince John from consolidating until Richard the Lion Hearted, the true King, returns, that Richard will put an end to the Power and Control methods of operation opening a way for possible merger between the two organizations.

Power Sharing

As Robin builds his team, he looks for individuals willing to share power not only with Robin, but also with those who will work for them. Robin wants people who are creative, willing to listen, will to accept others ideas, and finally people who will work hard.

Because Robin’s organization is a flat organizational model he needs people who can work autonomously as well as in a team environment. The work will initially be hard with the pay set fairly low since this is a start-up with a small budget.

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Robin needs individuals that can wait for their rewards until the organization builds a successful model or merges with a larger more successful group.

Little John is the atypical individual Robin would like to build his organization around. Little John is a hard worker who is willing to put in the work for rewards down the road.

He has often been overlooked because of his size and rather homely stature. Although slow to speak, Little John is intelligent.

Robin wants someone like Little John who will take measured steps rather than overreact. Little John’s example to others is a willingness to work hard, willing to share power, take measured risks, and be willing to make the hard decisions quickly when necessary.

Flat Organizational Structure

Through indirect contact and conflict with Prince John’s bureaucratic organization, Robin Hood’s flat organizational structure allows the merry men to consistently outperform the sheriff of Nottingham’s men.

The ability to make quick decisions on the spot as opposed to the slow bureaucratic process Prince John’s organization requires, allows for rapid responses to any unknown or uncertain circumstances.

Because Prince John has to be made aware of any important information before any decisive action can be taken, Robin Hood and his merry men are usually quickly successful and already moving on to the next encounter before the sheriff and his men even respond to the first incident.

Quick and Effective Evaluation

When Richard the Lion returned, he quickly and effectively evaluated both organizations.

He found Prince John’s organization stagnant. It lacked creativity and could not compete in an environment of change. Creativity was stifled because individuals within Prince John’s organization were afraid to attempt anything untried or unapproved for fear of reprisal.

On the other hand, Richard found Robin’s organization of merry men healthy, creative, and flexible.

He could see that the merry men could adapt to an ever-changing environment quickly because authority was spread widely throughout the organization.

Obviously Robin’s men felt free to express their ideas for solutions which led to a great increase in speed and productivity over Prince John’s organization.

Entrepreneurial Organization

At this point it is clear to see why King Richard as Chairman took the following steps after a thorough analysis of both organizations:

  • He quickly transferred Prince John relieving him of all of his authority.
  • He disbanded the sheriff of Nottingham’s men
  • Removed the in-group and flattened the organizational structure.

After a short negotiation, Robin Hood’s organization was merged with King Richard’s flatter more entrepreneurial organization. This allowed for a greater flexibility and flatter organizational structure within the new organization.

The Takeaway

Robin and his merry men were given new authority to redesign the overall group into a leaner more competitive organization.

King Richard appointed Robin Hood as CEO. He, in-turn, put his merry men in key positions throughout the organization to implement seamlessly the transition to an entrepreneurial operation. Little John was made Sheriff of Nottingham.

Little John’s primary job was to pull together a team who would manage quality control within the newly merged organization.

That’s my contemporary story of how Robin Hood and his merry men put together one of the first mergers in the corporate world. And, this is one of the few types of mergers that still truly works in the real world.

What Are Your Thoughts on Leadership Styles?

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Tim Cummuta
Tim is a Business Consultant in Strategic Planning, Productivity, HR, Sales & Marketing, and Risk Management. He has a Master’s Degree in Financial Planning and is pursuing a Ph.D in Organization & Management at Capella University.
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