What do you think about hierarchy?

Hi, I mean, every society, from the smallest union to the biggest country, has a hierarchic structure, hasn?t it? Is anywhere in your environment a society that works without hierarchy? Do you feel pleasant if you aren?t a leader or a leaded?

Would enjoy your opinion!


It’s not an easy topic. Some of my poor viewpoints. :stuck_out_tongue:
We’ve learnt so much from the histories, which tell us there couldn’t be any society without the hierarchy. Like what is given by the theory of evolution, every unit or society will develop from the low class to the higher grade. Then, it is inevitable that stronger ideologies would take the first place in their units.

We should hold an objective attitude to the hierarchy. Even in the animal world we could still see some rules of domination, but human activities are much more complicated than those animals. Our ancient ancestors found easy ways to comb all kinds of relationships, maybe they didn’t call that “Hierarchy” , but for ages and centuries it had been shaped so well , and seemingly had been ingrained in our minds . The governors use it as the tool for their sovereignty, from this point, “Hierarchy” seems to have a dark and gloomy face, thus people argued about its rationality, but let’s look back and we will find how similar the history is , we just use another new "hierarchy " instead of those old ones . With times passing by , our life styles , our thoughts and ideas , our activities and behavious have been changed so much, nowadays when we talk it over again, we would ask ourselves, “is it a new world?” which brings us full freedom and democracy? Hard to answer, because as long as the human activities exist the "hierarchy " wouldn’t disappear, it just have a new look, today we may call it as the “System”, because this word includes most of its meanings. reflecting its nature in this new era.

We need it to build an orderly unit in which everyone has his rights and responsibilites. In other words, he can’t do everything without any restriction. When that system works we will feel a kind of harmony, but on the contrary , you may think it unfair because of those excessive requests. Specially when you are asked by someone who is just your boss(and you dislike him a bit) , so , can you say it is a sort of “hierarchy”? ok, you can make a choice, go or stay , because it is the Work! Then how about things in family? You can’t leave only because of a terrible quarrel with your parents. so, is it the “hierarchy” ,too?? We have to admit that the relationships of human should be the hardest to deal with. Because we have emotions which control our behavious . " Hierarchy " or “System” is used to keep the balance and harmony. Of course, we should learn to be good at it(though it is so hard always), Whatever in business or family, whatever in bigger units like countries or other societies, we need “hierarchy” or “system” .

The problem is , how to build a good working “system” ? Being lack of “hierarchy” people could live happily and freely? No, at least we didn’t see its victory in Utopian. But much could be taken as bad rules, which aren’t feasible today, specially under the control of the Freedom and Democracy . “Hierarchy” or “System” is left to others who would be the brave and hard explorers.

‘…The leader elects him by himself and sets him by himself
And a pack to which a leader is appointed will inevitably fail…’

(it’s about wolves) sorry for my poor translation of the Russian piece of poetry


Michael, if we take it generally - as I know, there is a special area (of psychology?) named etology that studies such a mechanism (of instinctive ‘social behaviour’).
Also the sociology (you hate :)) is closely and directly concerned this issue.

Not to repeat well-known points, briefly, generally and simply (not diving to the deep-sea) the issue is outlined quite well, for example, in:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hierarchy (see Social hierarchies)

But I myself… hmmm… I was bringing up (by my parents and grandparents) in the traditions of ‘humanism and (West model) democracy’ and so I have strong - internal, built-in - barriers in concern with ‘human rights violation’.

But, to be honest, I believe that ‘pure and true’ democracy forms rather weak systems (despite the fact that it’s still the best the mankind creates, as yet. If we want to be people, not wild animals.)

In a small scale :slight_smile: : I – personally - have just enough ‘leadership features’ and correspondent social skills to function properly :slight_smile: - as a leader of a small (3-5 members) team, for example.
And make decisions (taking personal responsibility) that can affect other people or work projects.


Hi Michael,

There’s an interesting book written by the historian Thomas Carlyle, called Past and Present which sets out how life is in 19th century Britain and how it was in the 12th century. The point he makes, particularly in the chapters on Hero Worship, is that society runs well when everyone knows their place and he describes the way life is run in a 12th century monastery. Carlyle is of course open to criticism that he was looking back to the past through rose coloured spectacles. It is a truism however that society is stable when everyone is aware of what is known as the pecking order in society. The trouble is of course that if the top dogs/thebosses/the authorities are corrupt, what then? Take Animal Farm or 1984 by George Orwell. You have to have the rebels who don’t conform so that some kind of progress can be made.


Hi Fang Fang! Hi Tamara! Hi Alan!

Sorry I?m back late :oops: , but beside my current work and my horses I had to write some applications for another job that fits better to my education, so that there wasn?t much time to reply and my thoughts had been somewhere else. :shock:

But back to the topic: Thanks for your interesting answers and believe me, I don?t like anarchy, particularly I don?t as I often could experience what happens if there isn?t anybody who inserts some order into the things. Imagine what would happen if there weren?t anybody who rules the traffic, for instance…or if companies wouldn?t be ruled, how would they be able to achieve a result? :? and often enough that companies which don?t have any working hierarchy are that ones which get insolvent. I myself had worked for such a company. As long as the German economy had been strong enough to carry such companies our company was able to survive, but when the first sign of weakness in the economy appeared and some other better organized companies ( competitors) had to fight for orders, the company I was employed at didn?t get some more orders and as the big cheese there wasn?t able to organize his firm and to handle with money he had to register the insolvency. Anyhow I think that fits to Alan?s hint to corrupt or just weak leaders or chairmen or big bosses.

And also it is obviuos that from the beginnig of the humanity ( by the way, when had that been? :? :smiley: ) there was a hierarchy. Like in every community of social behaving creatures.

Now, Tamaras example concerning the wolves is an interesting one. But is it really true that a header is a header because he elected himself or isn?t it that the members of a community must accept him for the header to enable him being a true header? And how can an idividuum became a header? I think it depends on his power, of course, but not only that. The header must have some experience and respect his members, too. Otherwise he wouldn?t have just some rebels but the majority of the flock/bench/community would become rebels and would initiate a revolution.

What do you think?


Hi Michael,

You raised an interesting point towards the end of your piece on leaders about earning respect. I could slew this point round to the current position here in the UK without getting too involved in party politics. The present PM has been very successful in winning 3 general elections but in my opinion he made a fatal error before the last general election (number 3) by saying that if he won (and he did) that he would step down at some time during the third term. So you can imagine that there is constant speculation when this will be and there are several members of parliament seeing this lacuna as a place they would like to fill. But there is another ingredient because the current Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) has also been in post as long as the PM and there has always been an understanding that the C of E would assume the title when the PM left. But of course life is more complicated than that and there is now a tension around the question: when will he go? The poor old C of E is rather like the heir to the throne waiting to become King but not knowing when. At the same time two other factors come into play: the current PM is turning into a lame duck because everyone knows he’s going soon and then there’s us -ordinary Joe public - do we have any say in the matter of who’s going to rule over us?
The point I’m making is that whatever sort of leader you are, you’ve got to know when to go, when you’ve done all you can possibly do and it’s time to hand over to someone new. Now if you understand that, you are a great leader and sadly those sorts of leaders are thin on the ground, few and far between.



There are lots of different opinions on what ‘leadership features’ and ‘charisma’ are, and whether we’re given of (with?) them from birth or we acquire them – just as other skills – during the lifetime, together with the ability to motivate ourselves properly (to put ‘true’ life goals), striving (or not striving) - for power, leadership and great influence at other people…

One interesting paper I’ve read lately is How the family pecking order affects you that claims that your place in the family is such a strong factor in developing your personality that it can have a major influence on the rest of your life.
And describes typical (psychological) portraits for a ‘child number one’ (more likely being very responsible (=similar to parents if parents are so) and striving to perfection, but rarely/never satisfied),
‘middle child’ (usually having less attention than older and younger siblings, feeling a compulsion towards attention-seeking behaviour)
and the youngest (more likely all life needed other people to sort out his/her problems).

Don’t you agree that it’s actually difficult to become a good leader unless you yourself haven’t learnt how to obey (an order or other people)?…

Hi Alan!

What right you are!!

If you don?t want I don?t request you to answer this, but do you think your current P.M. is a good leader? I mean, he advised to his retirement during the next period of legislature and had got elected despite that. That only can mean that the British people relied on him that much that it wanted to enjoy him as much time as possible or, at least, was afraid of the time behind his leadership.

For me the recent Chancellor of the German Union (Bundeskanzler) Mister Gerhard Schr?der had been (or still is) a person due to your description since he offered the German people an election although his period of legislature wasn?t finished and as far as I?m concerned he would have stayed the C.of G.U.! Please, don?t require my opinion about the current C. fo G.U. :evil: At least, Mister Schr?der haven?t made promises which he wasn?t able to fillful. That likely was his mistake!!!

Well, Tamara, as much as I understand you, most likely the first child in a family is due to the scientic investigations a header, am I right? Mister Gerhard Schr?der had been the eldest son of his family and had the moniker “field” when he was young. "To field " is, beside of the meaning preparing the field for seeding, a synonym in the German language for working hard. He rose up from a man who nowadays probably would be needed to live by “Hartz iV” to the Chancellor and had experienced lots of social classes. Unfortunately the most powerful society (economy-class) were able to set the current government. :?


Hi Michael,

No, I wouldn’t regard Master Blair as a good leader. There’s too much narcissism about him. He has had a golden opportunity to help his own country put right a lot that’s wrong in our society but has chosen instead to rush around the world seeking personal glory. He’s not really a leader, more a performer and in my opinion it’s time he left the stage.


Hi Alan!

Perhaps we could help Master Blair continueing putting the spot-light on himself. From what you reported about his golden opportunity I consider him the right person for the German politics as in our society are some errors to remove. And although he possibly isn?t that good leader, a man or woman with that skills is needed here.

But beside of being flippant, you mentioned Master Blair?s too much of narcissism. Yes, a too much of narcissism can avoid to be a good leader. But isn?t a healthy degree of narcissism a must for leaders? I think, that narcissism (self-love) helps to achieve goals in negotiations as it don?t allow the leader to lose the track.


Hi Michael, you’ve raised a very interesting question here and you might want to check the difference between leaded (which often refers to fuel such as petrol) and led which is the past participle of lead.

As for the initial topic, one of the best books I have read on the nature of hierarchies is The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter because it is written in a humorous yet informative way. According to the Peter Principle, in any hierarchy every employee rises to their level of incompetence. You will find real life examples that prove this principle to be true every single day…


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Hi Torsten!

Nice to have you back again! And being that engaged and powerful, too.

Thank you for the correction. It seems I wasn?t carefully enough when using that expression.

Sorry Torsten, I?m a bit confused. What made you mention that book? Does it explain your thoughts regarding hierarchy? I?m aware that the initial topic isn?t that easy to talk about since I myself had lots of difficulties to open this talk or discussion, but I asked for opinions and experiences, not for advice to books. So I would prefer to read your personal opinion or is that possibly too personal to ask you?


I don’t think there is a perfect leader in the world, nor a perfect worker.
No leader would say:
“I’m a leader, 'cause I’m good at leading, so I don’t need more money for doing this than I would ask for working as a cleaning lady.She works as hard as I do and she knows how to clean better than me, so why shoud I?”
And who would say:
“I don’t want to take that extra money, 'cause I don’t deserve it, this house is big enough for me and my family, my children don’t have to go to that fancy school, we don’t have to eat meat every thay, actually the leader’s son deserves more to go to that school, and I LIKE IT THIS WAY”
The only existing system is “the stronger takes the better” and it’s the same all over.
Somewhere in the world you have to be stronger, somewhere you have to have more money, somewhere you need more connection, somewhere you got to be smarter than the others, to be the better,to be the one who gets the better.
There is no way to be a leader, and not to take any advantage on it.
As long as people are not the same in all ways, there’ll be something to fight for.
Male animals fight for girl animals and food by all the strength they have. If there was enough food, and girls for them, they would fight for the best ones.
And they only follow the orders of nature, without being mean, gready, cruel and all those features of mankind which make things worse.
What do you expect from us then?

Hi Spencer!

Might be you?re right here! And might be there is no perfection in leadership, but do you think all the leaders (you can?t denie that there are some) in the world do think they would have found the correct/perfect key for the system of human community? Why should they want to be a leader if they could achieve everything because of their strength or smartness or richness?

Definitely not, but leadership requires the readiness for responsibility for others more than that of of a cleaner. And that is what makes the difference between good leader and bad leader. You?re right we can not be all leaders and not cleaning ladies. And the state one like to achieve depends on one?s interests and with it the amount of salery one get.

For instance me and I?m sure that I?m not the only one. I agree with you that there must be a certain kind of education and that it is worth a wish to have enough room for the family but what if you have that much room you can see your family every second week for example? And what about schools that teach their pupil handling an electrician pocket calculator but forget to teach them how to add two numbers? How can that pupil calculate the bills at the bakers?

I think that doesn?t have to do with human community. For me it sounds more to be anarchy than social behaving. And unfortunately that is the current behave you can watch all around. I?m not the pretender of differences of humans, but I want you to think that we speak about humans and not about some technical or commercial results or numbers.

Do you really think you can reduce the mankind to that basic instincts? Don?t you think that the self-awareness and creativity of humans could be used for some greater aims? For instance to build a unique social community that could be able to live in peace? Didn?t our Catholic God command the mankind to take and rule the world? I think that didn?t mean go and destroy the world and kill everyone who is not as strong or rich or in any way different from you but let me see what you are capable to achieve if I offer you such a chance. Do you think this God or any else God could be satisfied when they see the result of some thousand years of human leadership in the world?

Now I?m not that religious man, I just often come across this questions when I see what happens around me.

Just to share some thoughts!!!


Michael, those are a lot of nice thing you said about best intention, and all that stuff.
I’m not really sure if we are better than animals, it’s not a shame to compare us to them.
We were talking about hierarchy. I just wanted to explain what’s the reason to be corrupt, and why it’s going to be always a problem.If you are strong enough to accept your life the way it is, it’s up to you, but it’s not about the system. That means you are a reasonable man, and you’d probably feel the same if you would be a homeless. ( I still think they worth as much as anyone else, they just aren’t too lucky, that’s it)
If you live your life happily, it’s only because of you,your “internal peace” ,I think you wouldn’t be much happier as a millioner either, you’d be pretty much the same person.
Whatever you do with the system ,
(unless you make up one where noone will be interested in being the first to choose),
you should change people,their thoughts,otherwise nothing will change.All the system looks like a piramid, the top have to fight to stay, the bottom can choose between accepting, or fighting over it.
In some countries the bottom line lives the same quality of life as the top in other countries, it’s really up to you if you’re happy, or sad.
The hierarchy is not bad, or good, it only exists, if you are in higher position you might like it better, but it still works as merciless as in the nature.
I’ve never seen a sad rabbit, although he’s not the first in the foodchane :slight_smile:

Michael, when I said “what do you expect from us”, I meant human being,I hope you know :slight_smile:

Michael, I agree with a lot of what has been said so far in this thread. You are right in saying and even the smallest organization has to have a structure that sets rules and defines responsibilities.

There a number of factors that influence the nature of a hierarchy and a person’s thinking determines the place that person holds within a hierarchy. I have mentioned the Peter Principle because it explains how our society functions and what can be done in order to make life easier for all of us.[YSaerTTEW443543]

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Hi, Fan Of Arabian Horses( What a long nickname! :stuck_out_tongue: ):
I think i have expressed myself quite clearly. But i prefer “System” to “Hierarchy” , maybe the latter has many unpleasant colors. Or maybe you can tell me the differences between “System " and “ Hierarchy”, will you? :wink:

Hey Fangfang,
I think hierarchy is a part of the system.
And hierarchy is a system.
Everything is a part of the system,and everything is a system.
Welcome to the MATRIX :slight_smile:

Hi FangFang!

First of all, please, call me Michael. That might be shorter and is my civil name. 8) In my introduction I explained the choice of my official username. :roll:

I think, system is a logical structure while hierarchy more refers to the range in a row. Both are usually not used in human (political) regards only but also in science. For me hierarchy isn?t anything negative, it refers to the value of members in the row only and that likely makes it unpleasant since it reminds often a person their value. As most of us are low in range and we like to consider ourselves to be important we don?t like to be reminded our range. This is, at least, my opinion. Once a superior of mine proudly claimed that in our company the hierarchy still works and I myself felt unpleasant as I had been the last in the row. But to be honest, being on a low level in a hierarchy is not just a disadvantage as you don?t have much response for anything and many people more or less unconscious use this. I myself sometimes use the advantage to own a low range if the union or society, I belong to, isn?t important for me.


Hi Torsten!

Like you had mentioned some times ago, a communication is an ongoing process and sometimes there happen things you didn?t expect. Now, since I?ve been involved in the latter posts that much I was surprised to read your recommendation a pleasant and the same time informative lecture regarding that theme.

Just to explain how I came across the initial theme: The boss of the company I currently work for employed a superior some weeks ago. The superior is supposed to be the representative of the company?s big cheese. Unfortunately, now happened what you often can watch if a representative is inserted. The boss and his second man haven?t talked that precise about all challenges of the company and don?t sing from the same hymn sheet (like Alan probably would explain it pretty polite :wink: ) I mean the hymn they sing are similar but not exactly the same and that can raise some confusion. Currently, the confusion had been about me so that I didn?t know any longer how to behave.

Beside that you perhaps figured out yet that hierarchy is a theme what I often think about. And as another theme of my efforts is to improve my English skills I connected both and wrote this topic, expecting that all me friends here might be bored but won?t feel offended. :roll: