Most leaders agree that rigid hierarchy is dying because it runs on position power, instead of relationship power or people power.
Leaders are becoming increasingly divorced from formal authority because organizations are becoming decentralized webs instead of hierarchical entities and from power because the few people can coerce or control much of anything.
One reason for this major shift is a change in the way people are willing to be managed and led. Today’s employees want to have a voice and make a difference—they no longer want to follow blindly what the boss asks them to do.
We also see a new generation of leaders who operate on the relationship power and who believe that every individual counts and needs to be valued and treated as an unique person. We see more personal and professional relationships that are forged irrespective of positions. The public accomplishes now comes from the ability to develop trust and honesty, to build collaborative teams, and to empower every team member to participate fully.
For example, a generation ago, a father might have asked, “you’re lucky even to have a job, so stick with it and play by the rules.” Since no organization today provides guaranteed lifetime employment, doing what one is stored don’t pay off in complete security as it once did. Now with more options, people want to live by values and principles that they believe in, not just once but are imposed upon them.
The message we hear from leaders is this: if you want to inspire people, build and earn their trust, so they want to be with you and support you. But then people today, there is a desire to amount for something, to be one’s own person, to feel empowered, and to make a difference. Effectiveness and leadership can no longer be centered in positions within a rigid hierarchical structure, but must be centered in interdependent relationships in which leadership and power are shared broadly.