HIERARCHY: My New Thoughts


Hierarchy, the word, has always been a bad word in my mind. The very definition goes against my grain. The hierarchical structures of businesses & government have always made me bristle; I’m sure those around me could see the steam emitting from my ears.


         Definition of hierarchy    



1:  a division of angels

2a:  a ruling body of clergy organized into orders or ranks each subordinate to the one above it;

especially:  the bishops of a province or nation

 b:  church government by a hierarchy

3:  a body of persons in authority

4:  the classification of a group of people according to ability or to economic, social, or professional standing; also:  the group so classified

5:  a graded or ranked series a hierarchy of values

I can live with a “division of angels”, classification by “ability”, ranked values, & maybe professional standing (that one depends on circumstances); but, as a general ‘better than you’ idea because of economic or social standing, or formal education I take exception.

I recently heard information that caused me to rethink & compare hierarchy characteristics to leadership characteristics. In every situation, someone is going to be better at something than the rest of the group & that will change as the situation changes. Furthermore, I recently learned “there are some things in this world that can be done better by you than by anyone else”.



I firmly believe everyone is a leader. A leader in one situation, however, is not necessarily a leader in another situation. I suggest you examine your numerous roles. In which roles are you a hierarch, a leader, a student, or a follower. I have decided to look at hierarchy the same way I look at leadership even though I do not see them as synonymous; there are similarities that allow us to use similar criteria for examination. This means that there will be some hierarchs & hierarchies we need to question, those who do not concern themselves with the best interests of others; we need to be discerning & discriminating when deciding who to follow & who to accept as teachers.


photo courtesy of CWALLACE


Unless you are self-employed you will have a hierarchy at work. Sometimes we grow to resent or distrust one or more of the people in our work hierarchy; when this happens, it might be time to find a new workplace. Do not let yourself be poisoned by distrust or resentment. Know your values & live your values. However, it might also be a good idea to look within: be open-minded, nonjudgmental, & seek to understand. As always “do no harm”.

I never thought I would see hierarchy as anything other than negative. But, as I have said in the past, the more we learn the more aware we become of how little we know. Hierarchy, on my terms, isn’t so bad.