Leadership Nudge® 338 – Power Gradient Matters

January 20, 2021by Sandy Wilmer

When an organization creates steep power gradients with things like physical separation, executive dining rooms, and intimidating office size, they limit the flow of information. Information flows inversely proportional to the power gradient. Flatten the power gradient to get the information flowing.


I’m here at the RBS headquarters outside of Edinburgh airport at Gothenburg in Scotland. And this is where I get to talk about Power Gradient. 

Power Gradient is how much more important does your boss feel than you. The problem is information flows inversely proportional to the power gradientSo when executives create big power gradients by physical separation, intimidating office size, security guards, executive dining rooms, and then claim “Well, no one told me,” they’ve done it to themselves. The culture and the behaviors they got were exactly designed by the behaviors that they created.  

The lesson is flatten the power gradient. Not totally flat, but you want to make it like a gently flowing river (that’s our metaphor) so that information can flow freely throughout the organization.  

I’m David Marquet. And that’s your Leadership Nudge 

Sandy Wilmer

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