Lessons from Working Within a Hierarchy – Lesson 2

Lessons from Working Within a Hierarchy – Lesson 2

Almost all of us currently do or will need to participate within a hierarchy. Some hierarchies are very healthy and others are extremely toxic and everywhere in between. I write these posts to share with young people how to do well within hierarchies. I wish I would have realized these long ago when I started working in my company.

The idea that we will be judged entirely based on our merits and performance is rare, its partially our performance but most of the time more than half of our value is based on behaviors that we can exhibit toward the chain of command and/or senior leaders. These behaviors can instantly make us much more valuable in the perception of leadership. If we are disgusted in the senior leadership or are out of step with their vision we can expect to stay stagnant or pushed out until that is resolved.

Lesson 2:

The laws and ground rules (‘culture’) which defines success within a hierarchy is not necessarily based on truth or reality. Often they are based more on the preferences and ideals of the leader at the top. So our value within a hierarchy is defined by our relationship with, proximity and/or loyalty to its leader(s). We must stay on our toes because those culture-rules can rapidly change as the leader changes or as new leaders take over.

  • This is so true! I agree, I wish I had realized this when I was in my 20s and early 30s. I wanted to progress in my company based only on my performance, and in my mind when I looked around at the other people in my team they all seemed lazy and that they were only doing the bare minimum. I was young and ambitious and wanted to effect change as I saw so much inefficiency. I was able to improve some processes, but I was consistently turned down for promotions. I realize now that I was very negative, and I complained a lot to management. At that time (and this was before Christ as well), I was never going to resign myself to being a “brown-noser” and I had so much resentment in my heart because the company wasn’t seeing my value. If only I had behaved differently, I think I could have made a good career there.

    • yes I’ve experienced this many times and in many settings

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