A Slight Dislike of Hierarchies

I developed my notion of leadership from below as a counterweight to traditional top-down leadership. Usually, leaders tell people what to do based on a position of authority within a hierarchical structure. A non-hierarchical, bottom-up leadership perspective is far from unique. However, I developed my own view, and I wrote it down. One could say it is based on my fieldwork in the US, Norway and Italy, on eclectic reading, on my experience from starting up businesses, from founding a think tank, and from having opinions about a great many things in fields where I at the outset had no reason to be particularly authoritative.

No, wait, let me give you the real impetus – I spent a year in the Norwegian Army. I recall being bossed around. I didn’t like it (but I loved it when I got my NAIS medal for markmanship). My colonel once brought me to his office to say that my attitude was fine if I was a general, but not fine for a private. He then said he recognized the attitude – he had been the same way. Then he scolded me for being as dumb as him. His advice was to just do what people told me to do. To fit in. To accept decisions that were wrong because it was the right thing to do. I guess this book, Leadership from below, I mean, is my revenge.

In short, for the good part of my youth I have been an opinionated bastard, or as the euphemism goes, an intellectual of sorts. However, I have always been an ideas-to-action kind of guy. Mere speculation and endless research was never enough. This is probably why I needed a break from university (I have spent time in a few, such as NTNU, the University of Naples Federico II, University of Liege, and UC Berkeley). Life as a researcher was too monotonous. I wanted more. I wanted to make an impact. Leadership from below starts there – with the wish to make an impact.

I will give some more explanation about how my own background quite nicely demonstrates that leadership from below works in a later post.

The Best of my 102 Footnotes

I was, initially, only vaguely aware of the vast management literature on leadership and only occasionally dove into it, hunting for insight. In fact, I feel most of it misses the point. It simply talks to leaders about how to lead. That is the wrong audience. Leaders think they know how to lead. Good luck trying to teach them otherwise! They only read management books to feel good about what they are already doing. Or to do some self-flagellation. Or to bear a long flight.

However, scan through my new book’s 102 footnotes and you will find some decent, eclectic reads that will really help you in your pursuit to lead whenever leadership feels good or necessary. My footnotes cover fiction design, programming, management, sociology, psychology, speed reading, and body language, including titles like Peopleware, The Psychology of Persuasion, Shibumi, and The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds

My best footnote might be number 37. It is long. It is complicated. It is partly Korean. In short, it is an accomplishment. Check it out…


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