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.

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About trondau
Trond A. Undheim, Ph.D, is a co-founder of Yegii, Inc. and Vidian Ventures. A former Director of MIT Startup Exchange & Sloan Senior Lecturer, WPP & Oracle exec., EU National Expert, and serial entrepreneur (VC, incubator, think tank, search engine), ), he is an active participant in the global venture ecosystem. His first book was Leadership From Below (2008). Trond holds a PhD on the future of work & AI/cognition.

One Response to A Slight Dislike of Hierarchies

  1. Emilio says:

    I don’t really dislike hierarchies, but rather some hierarchies whose main purpose is just to perpetuate themselves.

    For instance, I have participated in inspection teams. An inspection last for a few days and each team includes a team leader (who is not necessarily the most senior person of the team).

    These teams work perfectly fine, everybody knows their duty, including the leader, who won’t work to remain head for ever…

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