Power & Hierarchy 

 Understanding what Power is - Link between Power & Hierarchy - How to increase Power

The bigger the feeling of power, the less oxygen in the empathetic parts of the brain

Research in Neurosciences​






Obeying strictly to the orders and rules could often be considered as insubordination

Because the goal is not to obey blindly but to contribute to the expected effect.  This is called 'Active Obedience'

General Leclerc was a great General because he obeyed all my orders ... including the ones I never gave him - Charles de Gaulle

Believing that Power = Hierarchy leads to the rat race in organisations


You can be at the top and be useless / have no power. Sometimes, useless people are promoted... This is a paradox isn’t t?


The Power is the Power of doing, of contributing.


Deferring to the team, and humility, can be signs of Power


Power is not given, you get it by doing things (that are important ;-)


It implies a goal: a sense of purpose, an entrepreneurial spirit, an ambition


We suffer because we let the Power move from people (Organisation) to processes and systems (Structure) - See next section


An good decision-making group should be made of an odd number of people,

but 3 is already too much...

Ferdinand FOCH



In sociology, we differentiate ‘The Structure’ (Organisation chart, rules, procedures... Source of Hierarchy) and ‘The Organisation’ (How the company really operates... Source of Power) 

Power and Hierarchy are disconnected (see the power of unions in certain companies)


You can be at a low level in an organisation and influence or control something important. This makes you powerful


You want to assess you power?  List the number of things you - and only you - control that are important for the other 'actors'


Power has an history.  It evolved with mankind:

- Power 1

  Strength (The bigger club)

- Power 2

  Smile (Look at the power I could use against you but do not)

- Power 3

  I am the rep of the strong boss. “Power by delegation”

- Power 4

  I am the only one to be able to manage your antagonisms. “Divide to reign”

- Power 5

  Function of risks I take.  (Entrepreneurship?)

DECODING by the sociologist & the philosopher

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Kindness is invincible

Marcus Aurelius




Paradox: Managers who show attributes of Power still feel powerless.

Wining and asking the Boss “I need more power” is not an option ;-)  Your Boss too feels powerless!

Power, by nature, needs to be built by the managers themselves, regardless of their hierarchical position.


You get power when you DO things (or control things) that matter for the other actors.

You can develop your power by taking initiatives - at the right place.  Start by identifying where you (could) create value.  Here lies Power. 


Power is not about decision making nor about being the Boss.  It’s about the capability to DO things that are important for others.


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