CHARACTERISTICS OF RANK-BASED ORGANIZATIONS


There might be an infinite number of ways to design an organization, and many different models have been suggested ”from the basic pyramid to the matrix to the lattice to the flattened organization. Yet, the most significant distinction, and most telling for the organization's long- term success, is whether it is a rank-based or peer-based organization. So, a factory, a bank, a high-tech company, and a government institution might have very different designs and organizational charts , but if they follow the logic and practices of the rank-based myth of leadership, they will, regardless of design, share in the same culture. This rank-based culture leads to inevitable consequences that are easily identified in most organizations today:

  • Victim mentality ” employees feel they have no role in decision making

  • Entitlement ”employees feel that management or the company owes them

  • Cynicism and a lack of vision ”employees see no connection between their work and the larger strategic goals of the organization

  • Tradition valued more than innovation

  • Constant crisis management

  • Employee burnout

  • Low trust between individuals and departments

  • Competitive "CYA" attitude between interdependent groups or departments

  • Inconsistent messages from management

  • One-way, top-down communication

  • Silo culture ”turf protection and turf wars

  • Failure to reward creativity

  • Difficulty managing priorities and projects

  • Bureaucratic rules and regulations that tend to stifle creativity and innovation

  • Technology failures ”systems and processes are broken and not repaired

  • Loss of customers, suppliers, vendors , and more

  • Loss of key people; brain drain

These consequences were all in evidence at the company where I was consulting ”resulting in decreased productivity and higher costs, which added up to lower profitability. Unfortunately, because many of this company's leaders believed in the myth of leadership, they were taking actions that just made the situation worse . The root problems and solutions were obvious to the rank-and-file employees I spoke with, but due to the rank-based thinking of senior management, no one was listening.

What I've discovered consulting with and training hundreds of employees with dozens of different organizations is a real desire on the part of the employees to make significant contributions. We all share in a desire to make contributions and be recognized for them. We all want a feeling of self-worth. Many organizations are structured to make this nearly impossible , resulting in consequences like those listed above.

Solutions to the problems addressed by senior management are often known by employees further down in rank. But because of the assumptions of the myth of leadership, including rank-based logic and rank-based practices, no effective avenue exists for feedback to go up the hierarchy. As mentioned earlier, genuine communication will only occur between peers. Leaders, by virtue of possessing a "superior" position, are prone to assume also that they possess superior wisdom and insight. This attitude, one produced by the myth of leadership, has dominated business and other organizations throughout history. Perhaps reviewing this history will be helpful in both recognizing rankbased thinking in our own organizations and replacing it with peerbased thinking.




The Myth of Leadership. Creating Leaderless Organizations
The Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations
ISBN: 0891061991
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 98

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