August 5, 2021 / Alejandra Sandoval

All entrepreneurs and executives have different experiences and perspectives on the approach and qualities necessary for effective leadership. And not all situations require the same type of leadership style. Great leaders adapt to their surrounding environments and empower the team to succeed together.  

Here, at Cafeto, we promote horizontal leadership, which involves networked teams to ensure we work together to execute our vision.   

In countless books and articles on leadership, many experts agree on certain principles necessary to lead a team to greatness. Still, when it comes down to it, the most important factor for us is whether the leader can positively influence the team.   

Then, why have we chosen the horizontal leadership approach?  

Let’s talk a bit about the definitions…  

Vertical leadership may be defined as an organization where leaders are in a formal position of power at the top of the hierarchy and whose commands typically run down the hierarchy while information flows up it.  

However, if we view leadership as being a total system, rather than lying in individual power, then we have horizontal or flat leadership that may be defined as a network of people where commands and information flow in all directions.  

Then, the goal of horizontal leadership is to give all CafetoMakers an active voice in projects, company initiatives, and how they work daily.   

We believe happy employees produce great ideas, so assuming horizontal leadership promotes, of course, that there is value in a collective voice and highlights the importance of sourcing ideas from every employee.   

“In the liquid society of knowledge, you lead horizontally with human synergy, or you don’t lead”.  

Ronald C. Stern

To have a clearer vision of this topic, we asked our leaders how they manage their leadership position in a horizontal tech company like Cafeto is.   

Juan Carlos Chaparro, Director of Digital Experience Services

Leadership is a fundamental element in each of the activities we carry out on a daily basis. At Cafeto, we assume technical leadership that is part of the constant search for new technologies and the continuous improvement of development processes. We also implement these processes in the software solutions we create for our clients.   

Horizontal leadership, Juan Carlos Chaparro

Each Developer is the leader of their own work and leads from their professional growth and from their work with colleagues. Communication skills and proactivity are a good way to go one step further in the way we improve every day and offer excellent service.  

Being a horizontal company allows us to be autonomous and organized employees through leadership, self-management, and commitment to our duties. Our leadership does not incur old-fashioned management elements such as micromanagement that generates little empathy among employees and is outdated in times of post-pandemic remote work. At Cafeto, we strive to be better every day, be at the forefront of technology, and always create innovative and quality solutions.  

Sandra Mayorga, Operations Director

Horizontal leadership, Sandra Mayorga

For me, the key to being a leader in a technology company, and I think it generally applies to any other type of company, is “trust.” This idea that we have the capabilities to do anything, innovate, develop software, or lead processes and that in the end, these things happen, makes a difference. As a leader, when you see the results of trust, it gives you the power to motivate your team and create an authentic connection to the company’s goals.  

Being reliable and trusting are essential characteristics in a leadership position and make people stand out in values such as honesty and commitment, two of our organizational values.  

Walter Ramirez, People Acquisition Manager

My practice is based on a set of beliefs.  

I believe that for effective change to occur, it is necessary to have a collective approach and collaborative and deprivatized practices that are based on shared norms and values.  

I think it is essential to recognize the importance of travel rather than the destination. The learning journey is a process of evolution, not revolution.  

Whalter Ramirez, horizontal leadership
Whalter is currently living in Guadalajara, MX.

The members of the PA team are on an enriching learning journey to improve processes and learning that requires a deep trust between them. As change won’t happen without staff effectively communicating with each other and doing things together, I think it’s crucial for me to facilitate that, value people and help them feel empowered and feel like they belong here.  

I have a true passion for work, teaching, and learning. I am practical, and I think that has been an essential aspect of my leadership. Furthermore, I also appreciate the positive reviews.  

I prioritize researching, meeting, and talking to staff, about current goals, and I choose to do this before some of the administrative tasks that I used to do first.  

We currently meet, with a group of stimulating peers. We trust each other to talk about business leadership and all the other day-to-day things that frustrate us. Like others, I have seen leaders I aspire to be and also taking things away from them.  


These three unique perspectives provide great insight into how our leaders manage Cafeto core values (honesty, fellowship, passion, commitment, service) within a horizontal organization.   

Being an effective leader requires consistent focus, perseverance, and the creation of a responsible team, designed for personal and professional growth. Without the team, there can be no real leadership.   

Many of those in leadership or management positions know what it takes to be better leaders, but sometimes they don’t act. Being a great leader requires constant personal and professional development, transparent and regular feedback from the team, self-reflection, and taking action on the feedback received.   

That is why we value and respect our leaders, as well as the entire team, who make the company a family and who work every day to deliver success in many companies around the world.