We the people, of your nameless, faceless organization, in order to form a more perfect union, do ordain and establish this Hack for reinventing how leaders are promoted. Studies have shown that those promoted to management will be more likely to develop into pricks as they work to ensure compliance in their subordinates.
Sometime in the early days of the industrial revolution, management was invented and developed as a profession. Managers sought to ensure compliance among line workers and individual contributors. As we shifted from industrial work to the knowledge work, many tools and tricks of management became ineffective. The literature shifted from promoting management to promoting leadership. Managers tried to become leaders. One small problem: people follow leaders by choice, people follow managers by employment.
In most organizations, individuals are promoted to managers by those above them and given power over a team of workers who had little to no say in deciding who would lead them. To those living in democratic nations, that doesn’t sound like leadership. It sounds like despotism. This sudden infusion of power creates more problems. Power eventually produces pricks. Consider the “cookie experiment,” where researchers assembled teams of three and randomly gave on person power to supervise. The researchers presented the teams with an uneven supply of cookies and found that those infused with power were more likely use that power to grab an extra cookie. This comical study reveals a serious truth: people tend to use power for personal gain. Likewise, to promoted prick managers (prickagers?) feedback is largely irrelevant. To individuals who’s source of power is above them, what good is spending energy pleasing those below them?
The solution to this problem is borrowed from the United States Constitution, a landmark document that established a government with leaders appointed by followers. Within a traditionally structured organization, a straight democracy is likely impossible to implement. Instead, we suggest borrowing the concept used to appoint justices in the judicial branch: managers should be appointed by those on the level above them, and confirmed by the people they will manage.
It would be wise to borrow another element from the US Constitution: term limits. This is not to say that managers can only manage a certain team for a set time period. Instead, after a period of one to two years, subordinates (now empowered followers) ought to vote on whether their manager should remain in power.
The appoint-and-confirm method establishes a system of checks and balances for managers, who are now accountable to the leaders above them, and the followers behind them. This makes tools like 360-degree feedback effective, since the opinions of EVERYONE around managers truly matters. It also decreases the temptation and likelihood of managers to abuse power, since power is seen as being given by the followers.
Adopting this model presents a challenge that can be overcome through bloody revolution (not optimal) or evolution (optimal, duh). Organizations should test this model on the first level managers and, upon success, gradually move up the hierarchy. In this way, the proper perspective will gradually be adopted as the successes of the model are seen at ever higher levels.