Historically speaking and since the creation of the first company in the history of mankind, the top down pyramid has been the inspiration. Why? History proudly answers and speaks volumes about this “why” by travelling us through its timelines. It all started when Humans discovered agriculture and minded farming which enriched the few at the top and centralized decisions in their hands. In all the revolutions that humans experienced from the Agriculture, to the Industrial to the Information Revolution till the time of writing this post, those at the top governed those at the bottom. Again, history has been the inspiration to reinforce the top down pyramid everywhere in governments, schools, universities, churches, sports’ clubs, and companies and even in the smallest social unit “the family”. The parents are the commanders who give orders to their children.
Mirroring history and especially the factory model pre and post the Industrial Revolution, business owners and managers have preserved the status quo and maintained the hierarchical pyramid to keep the power in their hands. The CEOs in their companies today are the true reflection of the kings sitting in their ivory towers thousands of years ago. Nothing has changed. All companies around the world have taken the shape of the pyramid organisationally. The decisions are all carried out by the ruling people, the executives and managers. It is an authoritarian and centralized system that enriched the few and impoverished all others.
Can the top down pyramid become a bottom up?
Leadership matters, and the whole responsibility lies on the leaders’ shoulders to carry out a major transformation. At the end of the day, who dares to topple down this ancient reverend system? What are the characteristics and traits that will enable leaders to overturn this pattern?
Some mangers think that inversion is possible by giving employees more responsibility, power and delivering some motivational speeches that intend to effect the change. It is not about gathering employees in a big hall and tell them that senior management team in the company decided to invert the top down pyramid in the organisation by giving employees the power to command and lead. Get ready guys. The day has come for you to become leaders. This ridiculous speech is their transformational way after a couple of long meetings behind closed doors.
No, it does not happen like this. The problem is not the inversion of the top down pyramid, it is the transformation of managers and leaders themselves. The major shift should happen in the way leaders view and develop themselves. It is impossible to give people more autonomy, independence and instil trust if the managers still think they are still managers. Eliminating the idea of management is part of the solution. Understanding true leadership is the first step. Realizing that being a money centric organisation blocks any major meaningful changes. If the leaders at the top are just managers not leaders, no change will ever happen. It is impossible to invert the top down pyramid in money driven companies whose goal number one is to make money. It is also impossible to invert the pyramid in companies that layoff people in a stroke of a pen.
The bottom line is that there should a serious reconsideration for leadership as a concept in the whole organisation. Once leadership standard is agreed, leaders will develop and grow other leaders who will empower other leaders at all business levels. Inverting the top down pyramid needs an organisation which is full of leaders then the hierarchical top down pyramid becomes vertical and inversion happens naturally.