Definition of pecking order | Handel Group

To Thine Own Self Be True

Have a seat.  I don’t think I’m going to tell type you something you don’t already know, but in case you never thought of it exactly this way, take a deep breath, a seat, and a stress ball, and read on:  

Just as we coach clients to take a hard look at the league they’re in, we also encourage them to consider—here goes—that there’s a pecking order.

Yes. I did just compare us to poultry.

But, if it helps and/or you’re familiar with Handel Group at all, it’s most likely not the first time you’ve been likened to a chicken when it comes to chasing your highest ideal for yourself.

Definition of pecking order

1: the basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank; broadly : a dominance hierarchy in a group of social animals.

But there’s good news in this notion too. In the pecking order I’m talking about, there are only two levels: a 1 and a 2. And no matter who or how big you are, you can be either. Hell, you can be a 1 in the beginning of a conversation and the other, midstream.

You see, there truly is a state that we live in where we are either being a 1 or a 2 with how we are in the world, see the world, and interact with the others in the world.

A true 1 is a powerful leader. Someone who knows who s/he is, speaks their truth, authors/designs their life, walks their talk, chases fear, and not only champions their cause, champions others. Not just because s/he can, but because a true 1 understands that others are 1’s as well.

True 2’s also exist. A true 2 is a true nurturer. A supportive and compassionate giver. Someone who, to their core, cares about others. Not above themselves, along with themselves. They’re happy being a 2 (see history: “Holy revelation, Batman!)

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The world needs both. But sometimes shifting into a 2 is cause for pause.

Case in point: Did you ever notice that who you are often changes depending on who you’re with? Whether it’s with your CEO, your direct reports, your partner, your kids, your subordinates, the opposite sex, or a waiter? Just because we can be a 1 when it comes to our money, doesn’t mean we are a 1 necessarily when it comes to our health and body. And just because we are a 1 with one person, doesn’t mean we are a 1 with everyone, all of the time.  

In fact, we’re not.  

But what if we could be or, at the very least, become conscious of when/where/with whom we’re not? What if we could strive to interact with people, no matter who or how they are, as fellow 1’s? Yes, even your people.

That goes for me 2.

As President of HGC, I have two executives on my team who have not been meeting their goals: one, for over a year and the other, for a few months. In my world, there’s no question about it—these people aren’t 1’s. They’re failing, so they are 2’s. I mean, what else could they be? So, from the current state I was residing (one with a lot of twonadoes, obviously), how do you think my conversations with them are going? Are they empowered? Motivated?  


You see, if I interact with them as the terrible 2’s I think they are in my head, they’d continue to be just that: failures. But if I could see that it was I who was dropping to a 2 in my own thoughts about them and that I, as their leader, needed to speak to them as 1’s, they could learn what they needed to and catch up to who I saw them to be.

Turns out, it’s not just my executives who I love and respect that I can make into a 2. Try raising (or, in this case, lowering) a sixteen year old daughter. And head into said sixteen year old’s bedroom that looks like another Nor’easter hit it while she’s on a plane to a beach vacation (and I’m not).

My high level response?  

I immediately got in my heart got on my phone and was about 2 inches from all cap texting her some of my less than 1-derful thoughts. How do you suppose that conversation with her would have landed?

Answer: Not that dissimilar from the ones I was having with my team.

So, what did I do instead? I waited until my daughter got home. We caught up about her trip (imagine that!) and then I spoke with her, 1 to 1, about the state of her room when she left. And, lo and behold, within minutes, because I didn’t make her a 2 to my 1, my badass daughter apologized easily and cleaned it all up (figuratively!) with me.

Trust me. A way different conversation than had I all-capped her.

Most of us truly can waiver between being a 1 or a 2, depending on who we’re with and where we are, more often than we know and more often than we want.

See which 1’s have your name on it:

The 1-derful
A 1 who treats and speaks to others like a 1.

The Goody 2 Shoes
A 1 who turns themselves into a 2 to keep everyone happy, to be liked, and to not have to confront things (aka tell the truth) or call things out. In a corporation, these are possibly the most successful, quick ascending people; however, they tolerate mediocrity.

The 2 Thine Own Self Be 2
A 1 who goes out in the world as a 1, but inside, they talk to themselves as a 2. They need validation, not because they actually need it, but because they drop to a 2 in their own head.

The 1 and Only Who Is 2 Good for You
A 1 who thinks him/herself superior to almost all, treating everyone as 2’s. Occasionally, this 1 can meet some 1 they are in awe of, jealous of, and can become a 2 to that person’s 1.

2-bacca (see: Star Wars)
A 2 who is totally happy, proud and successful being a 2 in an area, wholeheartedly supporting a 1.

The 2-Faced
A 2 who wants to remain a 2, but inside has a running negative list on other 1’s as if they were a 1 or could do the 1’s job better. This 2 gossips, judges and evaluates 1’s, but all the time blaming and pretending they have no power, seeing it as every 1’s fault but their own 2-timing self.

I am sure there are more. See for yourself. Take a look in your life. Make a list. Which 1 or 2 or both are you?  Where do you do the 2-step? And, psst, while you’re at it, have fun figuring out your version of the dance.

Remember, the only way truly out, is in.