Relief From Hierarchy

The short answer to the plight of being stuck in a hierarchical culture is simply to lead.  Hierarchy is an ancient control device to contain conflicts among followers by forceful compliance with managerial dictates. (Thayer, 1981, p.6) Followers were expected to accept orders from leaders without question, which provided organizational stability, loyalty from followers, and a striving for excellence. (Northouse, 2012, Kindle Locations 6141-6143)
Today, hierarchy has a little different focus and use. At its basic level it is a method of organizing work through the assignment of roles to layers of followers based on their capacity to perform given tasks successfully.  (Gabirs, 2007, p. 108) An individual not on the top of the hierarchical pyramid can only ascend through successful completion of given tasks.  As ascension occurs, positional leadership opportunities open doors for cultural change through collaboration and partnership, core elements of the transformational leadership style. (Northouse, 2012, Kindle Locations 3266-3270)
The assumption is that the hierarchical model is inherently bad, however, it is the perspective of this author that it is the lazy application of hierarchy that takes an effective organizational structure and uses it as an ineffective leadership model.  In a hierarchical structure, the lower levels contain core technical workers who provide the organization’s basic outputs, and are mostly concerned with certainty, stability, and closed-system processes. (Thompson, 1967) Through the use of a transformational leadership model in a hierarchical structure, leaders can collaborate with the lower levels for effectiveness and excellence for the organization.  By also casting vision effectively and praising the lower levels, follower buy-in and loyalty will rise.  If leaders desire followers to act like citizens of a village, it is necessary to talk about them in such terms, not as subordinates within a hierarchy. (Kouzes, 2012, p. 81)
Gabris, G. T., & Ihrke, D. M. (2007). No End to Hierarchy Does Rank Make a Difference in Perceptions of Leadership Credibility? Administration & Society39(1), 107–123.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
Thayer, F. C. (1981). An end to hierarchy and competition: administration in the post-affluent world (2d ed.). New York: New Viewpoints.
Thompson, J. D. (2003). Organizations in action: social science bases of administrative theory. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

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