When you rise in the hierarchy of any company, firm, or organization, you are likely to be rewarded for it subsequently. It’s not just being rewarded financially but there are also the noted past benefits such as being the first to eat at a meal or having livestock awarded to you for leading the tribe or group. The leader, if he or she does a good job, gets first dibs on what they would like as a result whereas if it’s money, food, or what I think is the most common today as it was in the past: land or space.
In my view, there is a direct correlation between rising in the hierarchy and having more space or territory allotted to you. This kind of correlation has really stood the test of time when you think about the era of feudalism when there would be lords over the land and forts or castles would be built to maintain that territory, even if it was contested by outsiders. When you think of the rise of empires from the Ottoman to the French to the British whose kings, queens, emperors, or sultans who would make their royal palaces and compounds as elegant, grand, and massive as they could.
Even your modern-day Presidents and other heads of state live more lavishly than 99% of their population and while they may command a modest salary, they still hold the keys to a massive home and office where they have people waiting on them to make sure any of their needs are taken care of. Because of the way hierarchies are set up, the people who have the most power tend to get the most benefits in terms of taking up space and territory because of the office or title or family legacy that they hold.
While it would make sense that in a capitalist society, you must ensure lopsided rewards and benefits to those people entrusted with political or other forms of power. When you think of your average CEO or company owner, they tend to on average also take up more territory or have more space than your average person. As your status rises so does the amount of acreage or square meters you would like to claim as your own. While there are exceptions, popular culture encourages the acquisition of power and status to correlate with not only acquiring financial wealth but territorial wealth too.
You can even see this in terms of who gets the most space in the c-suite or in the average office. While the average worker may have to work in a cubicle or share a space with others at a lower level of hierarchy in their organization or company, the management or higher-level executive will often have the corner office or their own floor depending on the place of work. It is easy to see where your status in the working world is just by seeing who is taking up the most space even when the impact you or your colleague have on the firm, company, organization, may be different in terms of actual value provided.
The societal drive to get that corner office, or to get a bigger home, or to have a piece of land to call your own is an innate part of what keeps our drive to boost our economic means in life. Taking up territory and holding it is such an innate part of our caveman-like nature that even if we may have come out of the caves into homes, palaces, and offices, we still strive to show off to others where we are in the hierarchy by showing how much space we take up compared to the other guy.
While there’s nothing wrong with staking your claim, working hard for what you earn, and claiming that corner office or hectare of land as your own, it does not mean that you’ll automatically be happy or fulfilled. It’s likely you’ll be satisfied, happy, or content with how far you’ve come and how hard you had to work for your spot in the hierarchy, but it does not guarantee you long-term happiness or fulfillment. When you think about it, while you can get an office or a home or a castle to yourself, it can cause a tendency to isolate yourself, to think you know better than anyone, and worst of all, to lose a kind of empathy for what your co-workers, your compatriots, or your community is going through.
You may be able to stock more resources, live more lavishly, and show off to others, but it won’t fill our most basic need as human beings, and that is to connect with one another on a deeper level. You may have family or close friends but the higher you are up in the hierarchy, the tendency is there to ignore others’ advice, or to start thinking you’re better than other people even when you may not know what to do or what the answer is, and it may prevent you from being touch with other people are going through who are going through a tough time in life.
The more we seek to rise in a hierarchy, whatever it may be, the more likely it is to lead to isolation, loneliness, and even unhappiness if we use the territory that we have to shut the door on interacting with others around us or who work with us. It is tempting to let our success and our status get to our heads, but it can lead to increased narcissism, apathy toward what got you there in the first place, and an ego that can run out of control if it’s not checked by others.
When you think about a successful leader or executive, they let others tell them when they are wrong or show humility when they don’t know the answer. Instead of isolating themselves entirely, they make sure those people who helped them share in the success and are treated well. They share their space with others instead of hoarding it for themselves. They go out in the community to find out how they can help as a leader with more resources and knowledge. Instead of becoming a hermit with a lot of territory but no one around to help, a good leader will let people in to give advice, counsel, and to back down when he or she knows when they are wrong.
It’s the reason why dictators, kleptocrats, and monarchs can be so out of touch with their compatriots and why the CEO who has his own floor and never leaves his mansion are not long for staying in power. They neglect having people around them to be part of their apparatus and to tell them when the decisions they make should be rethought. It is also because when a leader hoards all the wealth, territory, or resources for him or herself and their family or close friends, people who are worse off tend to notice, can congregate, and organize together, and an overthrow of that leader is just around the corner.
A good leader makes sure that he does not hoard more than he needs to succeed in his role and that he or she relinquishes their title so a successor can rise whatever the vocation to share in the continued success of the company, organization, or firm. There’s nothing wrong with letting your rise in hierarchy allow you to acquire more land, territory, or money, but to hoard it all or to do nothing to let others improve their own lot in life to make sure they have the same shot at success is a recipe for disaster. You cannot take land with you after you’re gone so the priority should be on making sure you are a good leader first and also someone who uses their status to assist others, to make wise decisions, and to help give other people in their community or country a leg up so they can have enough territory to live a good life and share their own success with their family and friends.