Invert the Org Chart

For many decades organisational charts looked the same: A hierarchy of bosses. The higher the level of someone in the hierarchy, the more power that person allegedly has. This endorsed all sorts of questionable behaviours like:

  • Whoever is “higher” is right by design
  • Whatever someone with a more senior title says needs to be followed
  • The bigger the “troops” the higher the importance
  • If you want a career you need to focus on “working upwards
  • The people at the “bottom” are meant to just execute

It also created a management culture which is centred around “rising through the ranks” and preserving the status quo. How are the best ideas meant to win in such culture? How do you want to disrupt when the leadership is focussed on protecting what they have (already achieved)? How are talents supposed to develop when managers are holding on to them because they underpin their power?

An org chart is just an org chart, people think. But it is actually much more than that: It is the mirror of a certain culture, mind set, thinking and related leadership behaviours. Never underestimate the power of a picture!

Next time you sit down to draw your team’s or department’s org chart it is time to turn it on its head. Put yourself at the bottom and the previously “lowest” level at the top. This will communicate what today’s leadership should be all about:

  • “I am here to create the right environment for everyone to succeed.”
  • “I’ll help everyone in my team to progress and become what they desire.”
  • “Everyone in my organisation is better than I am and therefore deserves more attention than me.”
  • “This team is about the best ideas and excellent results, not about its management.”
  • “The day I am moving on this department will continue to function perfectly because it defines itself by the work that needs to get done.”

In today’s world managers are servants to ideas and the people who make them a reality. It is the only way to maintain excellent results and ensure progress. Our org charts should reflect exactly this.

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