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2-Neither “Flat Hierarchies,” Nor Mere Consensus: Leadership Based Upon Competence

2nd Principle – The Scientist
Tear down the chain of command and start over? What could be more beautiful than equality and consensus? It sounds nice, but it doesn’t work out in practice–especially when dealing with enterprises. The only basis for a long term growth and progress strategy is competence. And the so-called “flat hierarchies” are a romantic notion with little connection to reality.

No, we’re not promoting dictatorship. So, what do we mean? Popular opinion and consensus do not stand a chance against reality and competence. This is a universal fact. The knowledge of the doer is worth way more than the hunch of the man on the street. Everyone benefits from the knowledgeable work of the ship’s pilot, or the plumber. Everyone has a right to equal opportunity, equality before the law, etc.

But every idea, or opinion is not equal to every other. Freedom of Speech does not mean that all ideas, all speech, is equal, but that in an open environment in which all can be heard, eventually the better idea will win over the skeptics. Most of the time, the best comes out on top. However, often the best comes out on top only after once popular ideas have failed. That’s a problem. There are often people who will plot and deceive for ulterior motives. Think of all of the lies which were used to create artificial conflicts and wars in recent times.

But this is not about politics. This is about how you can ensure that your company can not just survive, but prosper in a rapidly changing world. Augmented Leadership can only work when a deep understanding of reality underpins every decision. Period. And yes, this does apply to government as well.
Conclusion: The pursuit of knowledge, and an increasingly better understanding of the reality you face, is the only proper standpoint from which to make decisions. Decisions based upon alternative notions of “flat hierachies,” consensus-based-decision-making, vague opinions, or preferences will have very bad consequences. This is the 2nd Priciple of the Augmented Leadership Manifesto.