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Vertical To Horizontal: A New Workplace Reality

Written by Rune Kvist Olsen Saturday, 08 April 2006

Loyalty with or without compassion

In human relating we find mainly two types of loyalty:

  1. Singular loyalty: Coercive volunteering (forced loyalty). Connection to an outer authority who is in charge and has the power to make decisions over others below. In a vertical structure it is a compulsory tool to force the employees into conformity, rigidity, uniformity through pledging their loyalty to the masters. The demand of loyalty is all part of the effort to control people and keep them subservient to the hierarchical order.
  2. Mutual loyalty: Chosen volunteering (self elected loyalty). Connection with personal responsibility for one self and others in mutual trust, understanding and respect for individual diversity.

People show loyalty to decisions which they have influence and control over. People will especially support the outcomes of processes if they feel that the outcome is genuinely the result of their own decision making and has not been handed down to them from superiors. Instead the decisions are the result of their personal influences and joint efforts to attain common goals.

Jack Zwemer4 has said that true compassion is only possible between persons on the same level. It is not possible to have true compassion up or down to others. To be truly human means existentially relating to others horizontally. To fully realize true self-hood there must be other persons relating to each other equally. Personality and individuality cannot develop in a relationship between a subordinate and a superior person. Each other must be capable of the same possibilities and opportunities for choices and decisions. The relationship must be committed to human equality. You cannot command compassion or commitment. The self must be free to cooperate or not-cooperate. External control exercised over the human self will destroy the very nature of the self in its relationship with others' selves.

Free people are always committed to cooperate as equals when they are treated as equals. This is because they will become free equals as a result of gaining and preserving individual freedom, responsibility and decision making capability. Then they must have equal access whenever they choose to operate as free individuals. The freedom from outside control and freedom for personal control is the essential factor for becoming and being a human individual. There should never be any element of upward or downward, above or below, inferior or superior, domination or submission in any relationships, if the relationships should be human and humanizing.

Vertically oriented power is corrupting and depraving in regards to the human conscious. Kipnis2 states that outer control of power in any relationship will corrupt the attitude of the person holding the dominant position. Externalized power changes the perception of the persons in charge and their perception of others. Externalized power gives the one in charge a perception of those below as less worthy to freedom and trust, and legitimizes manipulation in a commanding and condescending manner. The powerful perceives the powerless more as productive objective factors and less as individuals and human beings.

Krossa3 says, There are no such things as nice bosses. Control is by its essence damaging and destroying to self-awareness, self-esteem and self-respect whether or not the boss is nice or bad. The vertical structure and the hierarchical system is there anyway with its controlling and commanding mechanisms. People who are treated as genuine equals feel more secure about expressing themselves as unique persons and feel less obliged to perform in standardized ways according to organizational rules and regulations.

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