Rank thinking vs. Peer thinking

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Rank-thinking vs. peer thinking

"I define rank thinking as the belief that only a few in any organization should be given special privilege to monopolize information, control decision-making, and command obedience from the vast majority either through coercive or manipulative power. Peer thinking, on the other hand, is the belief that everyone in the organization should have equal standing to share in information, participate in the decision-making process, and choose to follow through persuasive means. Peer thinking assumes that we each have equal privilege to speak and an obligation to listen. Peer-based organizations create a space--an arena--where we come to recognize and respect one another as equal participants in organizational life."

From the book, "The Myth of Leadership" by Jeffrey S. Nielsen. Davis-Black Publishing, 2004


See Jeffrey S. Nielsen's definition on Rank-Based Management and Peer-Based Management.

Rank-Based Management

1. Information is tightly controlled, where just bits and pieces are actually given to the subordinates of the rank-based leaders and only on a need-to-know-basis.

2. Decision-making is made by the rank-based leaders and imposed on the company from the top-down.

3. The expertise of outsiders is privileged over the tacit knowledge and practical wisdom of the company’s own employees.

Peer-Based Management

1. Information is shared throughout the organization.

2. Decision-making is shared and all are invited to participate at the level where they are comfortable.

3. The tacit knowledge and practical wisdom of one’s own employees are privileged over the expertise of outsiders.

More Information

See our entry on Rankism

Prof. Nielsen has developed a methodology for Peer-Based Compensation.