Is hierarchy needed?

If an influence mindset is more important than a position mindset in leadership, the question we should ask is: “Is there a place for leadership positions?” Which should naturally lead to the question, is there a place for hierarchy in organisations? For those of us that have had bad experiences where hierarchy structures were used to manipulate and control, we might like to say no!

In this part of the leadership motive journey we will look at a couple of scenarios of why leadership positions and hierarchy are still important, but the primary motive of the leader should still be to serve and influence others for the common good, rather than wanting to be a leader for the position/title it often gives.

Ideally both the leader and team members should maximize influence towards the vision. However, those that are in a leadership position might have experienced the following scenario, when it comes to those they lead:

Stepping into leadership and then suddenly more responsibility being on your shoulders.

On top of that, you need to take on a whole heap of risk – where you are accountable for things while being dependent on the contribution of others on your team (which is outside your control). The non-communication of the people that need to deliver certain outcomes makes it very difficult for you to delegate, and you get more worried when less communication takes place.

After a while you would actually rather do it yourself because you think the others don’t understand your risk or stress and you are worried that it won’t get done since you are the “responsible” person for it. Over time you realise that the people reporting to you are more reactive. Reactiveness becomes a frustration because they only do what you tell them to do, but they struggle to initiate something and pro-actively contribute. It reaches a point where you would rather not be the leader because the responsibility and stress just become too much to bear. You feel helpless and frustrated since you need to take the blame for the team not reaching its objectives while you have worked your butt off while others slacked.

If the frustrations mentioned above are familiar to you, then the following concept could be of huge importance to you.

When looking at leadership positions and hierarchy in organizations, you need to understand that:

– The higher up you go, the bigger decisions you need to make.

– The higher up you go, the more responsibility you inherit.

– The higher up you go, the more risk you inherit with more difficult objectives, and lesser control over the outcomes of objectives.

If you struggle to see the above three roles increasing the higher up you go, frustrations and irritations will constantly be experienced.

In the minds of the leader and the follower, these 3 roles should be the only key differences in the roles of a leader and that of a team member/ follower. The roles above are the key things which separate the leader from another team member. Thus, when position is given, these are the specific things a leader will gain additionally within the role. When a team member gets promoted to a team leader, the main understanding should be that the roles mentioned above are the only differences between the leader and the team member and thus no need to become arrogant, it is merely a change in role.

Three distinct roles of a leader

What about importance? The higher up you go, the more important you become, right? No, wrong! The first problem comes when we think the higher position you get the more important you become. This is rooted in a reward-centered, position-leadership mindset.

If you are a leader with this type of mindset you will only make decisions that suit your agenda. You will not take complete responsibility (due to a reward mindset) and just be responsible for what you want to be responsible for. You will be less likely to take responsibility for others or your team, and more likely to blame others if the team or department does not perform. You will also be less likely to take risks and largely just be focused on pleasing others, or you will take risks without considering the potential impact on others.

The higher up we go, the more we own the vision, right? No, wrong!

The problem comes when in our minds we think we become bigger owners of the vision.

The problem with this is that everyone should be the owners of the vision (the ultimate outcome). Leaders should be the stewards (taking care of something on behalf of someone else) of the vision, not the owners. In the mind of the leader, he stewards the vision for a specific period, and he knows it is important that everyone stewards the vision with him. The leader should make the ultimate decision of the vision, not be the owner of the vision, but rather steward the vision with others.

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