When an organization has a steep power gradient, very little information will flow from the bottom up. When we remove the trappings of power and flatten the gradient, information will flow more freely.
The power gradient is the feeling of “how much more important are people the next tier in the hierarchy than we are” and “how much more important are we then people below us.” In Industrial Age organizations (where we conformed to our roles) we wanted a steep power gradient because that allowed us to coerce the team to do what we wanted them to do. They would comply with their jobs. Here’s why power gradient matters. Information and ideas flow inversely proportional to the power gradient. With a steep power gradient, very little information is going to flow up. It’s going to be highly curated, massaged, and will be worded just right. With a flatter power gradient, you will get more information and ideas flowing up. You’ll hear more about what the team is trying to do. Now you feel the power gradient toward your boss, but it’s very hard for you to feel it going down. As leaders we need to take actions to flatten the power gradient. These examples of steep power gradient i.e., my carpet is thicker, my office is bigger, I have a private parking spot, I have a private executive dining room— are Industrial Age vestiges, which don’t help us when we want to get the most out of our team. So the play is Flatten the Power Gradient.
Read more on our IBL Blog here – What is the power gradient?