This paper sets out to chart ways in which a number of linked but independent changes in the organizational contexts clients are bringing with them into consultancy are both drawing attention to and forcing us to reconsider ways in which we have hitherto thought about the dynamics of leadership, accountability, and authority. It proposes that one way of characterizing this direction of movement is that it is focusing around the experiences, challenges and dilemmas, both conscious and unconscious, being presented by lateral relations. The paper offers a provisional definition of ‘lateral relations’ and seeks to explore and test this against experiences in two consultancy assignments, in the private and public sectors, respectively. Both touch on themes of anxiety and vulnerability: in the dismantling of prior expectations and assumptions, and in the face of what might be termed the nakedness of being on one's own, with colleagues. The concluding section of the paper speculates on ways in which these developments may both challenge and affect our more familiar organizational and group relations paradigms
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