Think of four people you know. Friends, work colleagues, neighbours.
Now, including yourself, place these five people in a hierarchy. Who is top, who is bottom? What is the sequence? Who is above whom and what criteria are you consciously or unconsciously choosing as you create your list?
If the other people were to create a list, would it be the same or different? Where would they put you on the list? How much does that matter to you?
What if you were now to share the five lists with each other? The lists you and the other four people had compiled. Could you? How easy would that be? How comfortable? Would you be seek to justify your choices? Would you want to explain? Would you be honest? Would people expect there to be a reason, a logic? Would you be focused on how people were placing you in their hierarchy? How might your relationships be impacted by this exercise and revealing your view, your hierarchy?
We are naturally hierarchical. We compete. We try to get ahead. We judge success, we judge our position in the community, in society through hierarchies. It may be house, car, qualifications, money, job, pay grade, job title, grades our kids get at school, social ladder, societal groups we belong to, the universities our kids go to…
In most organisations there is a discrete hierarchy. An organisation chart. A boss, a team. Leaders and the led. Managers and the managed. Pay, rewards, benefits, maybe where your office is, or the door you enter by, the technology you get given, or where you can eat? These are all symbols of the hierarchy.
Yet how easy would it be to create that hierarchy amongst friends, colleagues, neighbours, when they knew you had created it?
Strange that we live by criteria, structures and frameworks we find hard to own. Difficult to be honest about. Struggle to take responsibility for. There is both comfort and discomfort with hierarchies. Yet they are seemingly in our human psyche. A need to know where we stand in the group and a fear of what that might mean and the judgement that comes with that.
So would you “hire Archie”? Could you?