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The Eponymous Principles of Management

The Eponymous Principles of Management – The MacLeod Model of Hierarchy

The hierarchy is one of the oldest social institution of the civilized world. More capable, and more fortunate, – All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others – people ultimately have more control over the available resources. This enables them to exercise influence over the ones who have less resources (under their control). This influence gained the form of power over the time.

In 2004 car­too­nist Hugh Mac­Leod published a very simple cartoon entitled “Company Hierarchy”.

On the face of it appears to be one more jargonistic model. So, first we take help of another article[1] wherein these terms have been explained–

Corporate Sociopath (noun) – A person whose professional behavior lacks morality, and whose actions use manipulation and game-planning in order to achieve money, power, and prestige.

The Sociopath is like an athlete on performance enhancing drugs, determined to win at any cost – and willing to do whatever it takes.  The Sociopath is willing to use manipulation and undermining techniques to gain control and is persistent with his intents. He considers himself larger than the cause – the organization – he is working for.

Corporate Loser (noun) – A person who is competent with their work and shows professional morality and integrity and is aware of the lacking morality in corporate leadership (Corporate Sociopaths). Corporate losers do not have loyalty to their company since they are aware of how disloyal the company is to them, however they rarely leave soul-crushing employment because of self-instilled fear, laziness, or lack of creativity.

No wonder they slog at the bottom the pyramid. However, the real world this does not continue for ever. About that, a little later…

Corporate Clueless (noun) – A person who is loyal to their company, completely unaware of how disloyal the company is to them. The corporate clueless person will always follow management directions, honoured to even get the attention of their sociopathic leadership. The Clueless create a communication and hierarchical gap between the sociopaths and the losers, and also can be easily manipulated to be the fall guy for the sociopath when things go wrong.

The Corporate Clueless are enablers for the sociopaths on two fronts:

First, as the loyal ones, they are easy scapegoats.  They allow the sociopaths to take risks for the business while incurring no personal risk because they have a corporate clueless person to act as the fall guy.

Second, the Corporate Clueless create an important shield between the Losers and the Sociopaths. The Sociopaths always want more (e.g. ideas, designs, efficiency, hours logged, etc) for less. The Losers are aware of this, and it makes them angry The Losers are angry, but all they can do is complain to the Clueless – who the Losers know to be incompetent.  And how long the Losers remain angry at someone who is doing their best but is inherently clueless. Thus, they will simply keep absorbing the pressures. They will keep doing the thankless job of calming up the losers, but rarely communicate the real situation to the sociopaths.

By the way, if we want to do away with remembering these negative-sounding jargons, we can replace these three terms with “confident leader”, “extreme loyalist”, and “moral hard worker” respectively. 

MacLeod’s company hierarchy is mostly true, despite it being such a sad and hopeless picture.  But, there is an alternative and it starts with people who are willing to escape the unconsciousness of the three positions within the hierarchy and transcend into Consciousness.

Corporate Conscious (noun) – A person capable of leadership and ingenuity, capable of taking risks with the awareness and acceptance of the potential failure, compassionate towards superiors, peers, and underlings. This person is aware and conscious of the business and politics of the world around them, and capable of using this awareness when the outcome is profitable and moral. Most important, this person is conscious of the fact that the company needs him (or her) more than he (or she) needs the company.

Daniel Miessler[2] calls these terms as Kings, Sages and the Cogs.

In the real life, if one has enough competence to generate the required escape velocity, one can move up the layers. However, those who dot have such velocities of continuing competence, the inevitable force of gravity of incompetence will usually lead to the lower layer.

If you are in the leadership position or aspire to be in the one, you need to be what famous British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, says, be a good butcher while becoming good empathetic person to the people as well.[3] Seems to be a task as impossible as riding two horses. task, isn’t it? That is why the position at the top is very ‘lonely’. There, you are like that trapeze artists who is trundling along a sizzling hot tope, delicately balancing between being ‘transcendental people leader’ and the non-emotional goal-oriented slave driver.

As can be expected, the MacLeod Model of Hierarchy too has inspired a lot of meaningful, or academically worthwhile and of course, humorous discussions..

[1] MacLeod’s Company Hierarchy And The Corporate Conscious

[2] Three Types of Employees

[3] Who are you, anyway?

By ASHOK M VAISHNAV

In July 2011, I opted to retire from my active career as a practicing management professional. In the 38 years that I pursued this career, I had opportunity to work in diverse capacities, in small-to-medium-to-large engineering companies. Whether I was setting up Greenfield projects or Brownfield projects, nurturing the new start-ups or accelerating the stabilized unit to a next phase growth, I had many more occasions to take the paths uncharted. The life then was so challenging!
One of the biggest casualty in that phase was my disregards towards my hobbies - Be with The Family, Enjoy Music form Films of 1940s to mid-1970s period, write on whatever I liked to read, pursue amateur photography and indulge in solving the chess problems.
So I commenced my Second Innings to focus on this area of my life as the primary occupation.
At the end of four years, I am now quite a regular blogger. I have been able to build a few very strong pen-relationships.
I maintain contact with 38-years of my First Innings as freelance trainer and process facilitator.
And yet,
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

2 replies on “The Eponymous Principles of Management – The MacLeod Model of Hierarchy”

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