#45: How fearful is your short-sighted hierarchy?

fear at any level on the hierarchy makes all of us short-sighted.
Fear at any level on the hierarchy makes all of us short-sighted.

What is the organization’s hierarchy?

It’s that pyramid-shaped diagram where your name and position appears if you are important and where only your position is labeled if you are not.

Or it’s that circular diagram that tries too hard to convince you that your organization has no levels because only the customer matters. (Yes, and I still believe in Santa Claus.)

Or, if the powers that be your organization (i.e. those in charge) are honest, it is the mapping of power and authority (or, if you insist, the mapping of benefits and rewards).

Let us also be honest and describe the hierarchy as it is. Those at the bottom feel it as the ranking of power and authority. Those more than halfway up (with ambition unfulfilled) know it as the order of status and rewards (to aspire to). Those at the top expect it to reflect relative importance, their relative importance.

We forget, in viewing the hierarchy in terms of us, that the hierarchy also represents time.

The closer you are to the bottom of the hierarchy, the more your actions create results that matter today. The closer your are to the top, the more your decisions trigger outcomes that will matter at some future date.

If your actions today have good outcomes today, you at the bottom will keep your job. If your decisions in the past resulted in good outcomes today, you at the top will keep your job.

Obvious, isn’t it? What’s not so obvious is the impact of fear. Specifically, how fear at any level on the hierarchy makes all of us short-sighted.

If the reason you manage to hang onto your job at the top only becomes clear years down the road, how will you behave today? Do you have enough self-confidence and backers-in-high-places to stay focused on the future? Or will your insecurities and enemies force you to micro-manage in the present?

Fear has a nasty tendency to make even those at the top worry about failures today at the expense of planning for successes tomorrow.

Thus, fear on the hierarchy flattens the pyramid but without the dreamed of benefits intimated by circular hierarchies.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

(Read it on LinkedIn or on Medium or listen to the abridged version on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcast platforms.)