Men hold on to corporate hierarchies while entering the Age of Empathy
published by , on 30/09/2010

By Michele  Mees (FEMCO)

Men hold on to corporate hierarchies while entering the Age of Empathy Came across this HBR blogpost by Nigel Nicholson, professor of organizational behavior at London Business School: Gender and the Future of the Hierarchical Organization.

Food for thought from this article:

“Our love affair with corporate hierarchy plays right into the hands of our ancestral primate instincts for contest, dominance, and pecking orders — that is, the traditional obsessions and addictions of men in a patriarchal order.”

“Men know the game, love it, and play it relentlessly
Women lack the same presumptions of status — which is good and bad. They are more open to cooperative relationships and ventures; but they tend to handle authority with ambivalence. After all, they are subject to conflicting expectations from men and women alike, operating in a male-dominated world.”

“Why do hierarchical models persist? The disturbing answer is that structures and systems are chosen by the people who prefer them and the people who do best in them: Men will sustain the systems in which they have been successful.”

This is in line with what I read in the first chapter of Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Empathis Civilization (buy it and read it: it’s great).

A quote by Rifkin, that can also be read with hierarchical organizations in mind:
“When one is treated by others as an end, not as a means, one becomes truly free. One can’t really be free in a world where everyone mistrusts each other. In such a world, freedom is immediately reduced to a negative, the ability to close oneself off from others and be an island unto oneself. Authoritarian societies that promote paranoia and mistrust and pit against the other squash the spirit of freedom.”

And “Psychologists are quick to point out that a person feigning invulnerability and exhibiting an extreme libertarian sense of personal entitlement, devoid of emotions and compassion, is often someone so frightened by his own sense of vulnerability that his macho persona becomes a mask for hiding his fear.”

(Michele  Mees is partner at FEMCO – Female Empowerment Consulting & Coaching – and holds, together with her colleague Danielle Moens , a blog )

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