May 11, 2014

Hierarchy for the Sake of Hierarchy is Simply Being Gutless

The family and I were ‘out and about’ on a lovely, sun drenched Mother’s Day this past weekend. Denise was celebrating her 11th Mother’s Day but if you do the math properly, she’s been a mom now to the three goats for a cumulative total of 27 years.

You’ll figure it out in a moment.

After a lovely morning replete with gifts for mom, flowers, brunch, cards and of course three blog posts from each of the goats paying homage to their mother (Claire’s post, Cole’s post and Cate’s post) we decided to venture out. We fell upon a somewhat makeshift carnival outfitted with rides, games and fatty desserts like donuts, candy floss and snow cones.

As we were leaving, the goats went to the loo with mom while I went back to our truck, parked in the Community Center parking lot.

In said parking lot, adjacent the ‘Mad Tea Cup’ ride was a perfect example of ‘Hierarchy for the Sake of Hierarchy‘. Witness Exhibit A:


Those that work at a Community Center are noble people. The service they provide the community itself is stellar. Community Centers — at least in Canada — have long been a place of togetherness, even collaborative spirit.

Does the Executive Director of this particular (but nameless) Community Center need to have such a sign adorn the parking lot? What message does it send to those in the community? What message (and reinforced culture) does it send to the Executive Director’s team?

Do you care for irony?

The parking lot consists of over one hundred spots. Even if the Executive Director had to park in the one furthest away from the Community Center, he/she would be adding a total of three minutes to his/her daily commute. (That’s in total, back and forth between the building and the parking spot in no-man’s land.)

Of all organizations on the planet, the last place I thought I’d see a sign denoting a flaunting and arrogant display of hierarchy (for the sake of hierarchy) would be at a community center.

I mean, c’mon … it has the word community in it.

It’s supposed to be a center full of community, isn’t it?

Throughout my career and life, I’ve witnessed such a sign (and displays of hierarchy) in the usual spots such as the high school parking lot, the industrial park parking lot and the dentist office parking lot. There are plenty more spots out there. I’m certain you’ve seen it in action as well.

In this the era of disengaged organizations, must we publicly display ‘hierarchy for the sake of hierarchy‘ or might we remember we’re all human, with legs, and are each capable of walking a few meters to get in the front door of our workplace?

Yes, you may be the Executive Director of this particular Community Center … but judging from the fact the sign still exists, the lack of respect you show your team members and the community itself demonstrates something so familiar, it’s rampant in our organizations today:

You possess both a lack of self-confidence and a jarring misrepresentation of what it means to be a leader.

Start playing for the logo on the front of your jersey with the rest of your teammates and stop looking in the mirror to see if they spelled your name correctly on the back of it.

Better yet, rip down the sign.

Show some leadership courage.

Buy an umbrella while you’re at it.


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