Many Leaders Believe If You Let Go of Hierarchy, Chaos Will Ensue
If leaders distribute power, creativity multiplies, trust deepens, inclusivity expands, and a new kind of order emerges
We tend to think of power as a hierarchy. Someone or some group at the top has it, and the people below them naturally have less of it. We encourage our leaders to keep it that way by forcing decisions, hoarding information, and locking power where we think it should be — at the top.
A few rare leaders have learned to embrace a new organizational shape and mindset: Constellations. Organizations designed as constellations are dynamic and flexible networks of distinct yet interwoven individuals. Each member of the team feels like a singular star and is also connected to others to form something greater.
Barack Obama and his grassroots team knew something about it when they revolutionized political campaigning. These leaders did what most leaders dread — they gave away power.
The book The Power of Giving Away Power shows how the Constellation mindset shines in some of the most impactful organizations the world has ever known, including Visa and Wikipedia.
Can sharing power be a means to create more of it for everyone? And what would that look like in practice?
We need to take a step away from a Pyramid structure back to a Constellation mindset
A pyramid organizational structure doesn’t need much explaining. Power is consolidated at the top. People are ranked hierarchically according to their function and title.
The leaders at the top make all the decisions — everyone knows their place in the structure. The problem with this design is it leaves little room for flexibility, new ideas, or spontaneous creativity.
Adhering to deadlocked hierarchies is how we try to shield ourselves from uncertainty. Companies often reward individual achievement, not collective power.
I’ve always been something of a quiet maverick in my organization. I try to look for a different way of doing things and allow for more community and creativity. Thankfully I work…