I’m an anarchist so I’m all for it, but that doesn’t say much specific considering the myriad tendencies just in my political corner; I lean toward syndicalism but find many of its proponents, like the IWW, a little old-fashioned.
In my practical experience organizing, there was always at least one leader (somebody who took initiative and responsibility, and who guided others), even in groups where that wasn’t reified into a hierarchy.
Hierarchy is a power structure where the goal is to keep power stable, to keep it tiered and immobile. I heard a good anecdote once to explain the difference between a mere power differential and hierarchy: the former is like a parent-child relationship, where the goal is to raise the child so they can be their own person (abolishing the parent’s authority), whereas the latter wants to keep going like that forever. In this second case, even if the people in the positions change out, the structure is still the same–hierarchy, power over others that does not willingly allow itself to be revoked.
On the flipside, there were often people in the organizing scene who stressed “horizontalism,” which in most contexts meant that they wanted somebody else to do all the work, while they still had say-so, thus undermining the emergence of any perceived “leaders.” This dynamic was explored at length in the famous essay, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness.” Being on the other end of that–subjected to said “tyranny,” where anybody who excelled got pulled back down–it felt a lot like working for petulent bosses, so not egalitarian at all.
To me, egalitarianism, or whatever you want to call it, is pretty simple: decisions and power structures that effect people should generally be controlled by those people, people who want something should have to do the work for it, and of course, “each according to their need.” This has far-reaching implications for the organization of infrastructure, trade, and the degree of the division of labor; it requires a certain degree of organization (“Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order”) and is incompatible with capitalism. I don’t think it’s possible to talk about egalitarianism abstractly and remain honest; the concept is as much about producing spaces and goods/services as it is about producing social relationships.
This goes back to Marx’s “secret of the commodity,” wherein commodities have been elevated to the level of social beings, and the humans producing them have been reduced to the level of objects, only so much labor-power required to produce the commodities. His basic point was that we can’t just look at objects for their face value; we have to see the social relationships embedded within them (colorfully described as “congealed human labor”).
I don’t think that egalitarianism is impractical or inferior to authoritarianism; it just takes more active engagement from more people. For millenia, Men With Power have organized societies by violence, destroying or absorbing and subjecting anti-authoritarian societies (which usually didn’t prioritize the accumulation of power and wealth). We’re now simply at a point in human history, and have been for some time now, where anti-authoritarian forms of organizing society can’t survive without intentionally dismantling opposing structures. And that’s super hard to do given that all of the ruling power structures across the globe are authoritarian, thanks to the aforementioned, terribly compressed history, and there are no more neutral spaces in which to “start over.”