Our world has changed, but our dominant concepts of leadership haven’t. The influence of hierarchy goes beyond an employee’s rank and status. Hierarchies continue to feed explicit and implicit biases based on socioeconomic levels, race, education, gender, language, ethnicity, resources, and abilities.

Assumptions that certain professions and people warrant value above others, wisdom and skill are acquired only through formal paths of study, and credentials equal competence, are the consequences of an organizational structure we essentially inherited from cavemen.

In a traditional organizational chart, roles are hierarchical and static. Leadership directs employees. With this model, the guest/client is not even a part of the organizational structure, and individual employees are often lost within their cohort. Power moves UP each level.

By contrast, in a Collective model (below) you would instead “Move BACK a Level” from the primary focus (which is the guest facing employee at any given moment) to the people and systems that work collaboratively to support them.

A Collective organizational structure empowers employees. The focus of the Collective Model is the guest/client and the guest facing employee. Who these employees are may change moment to moment, while the rest of the organization is continually working to support this interaction.


Collective Leadership training helps remove implicit assumptions reinforced by familiar hierarchical models that place some employees at the “bottom” and others at the “top.” Exploring narrative history through the Collective Journey created by Jeff Gomez, Rebecca shows the source of organizational hierarchies and how a new style of leadership is emerging that challenges well-established systems and traditions, while increasing interdependence, employees’ sense of agency, and workplace productivity and well-being.

In education, Collective Leadership responds to students’ expanding access to resources and information, building an inclusive environment and school community capable of receiving and valuing what each individual student has to offer. This allows students to develop skills and talents that are often not recognized in a conventional education model.