I don't say this often. Hell, I never say this: this is one place where the military has the right idea about how to manage people. Or at least, my poor, second-hand understanding of military chain of command suggests that is so.
Non-Commissioned officers are on a separate career path. They are expected to continue managing 'the workers' in some capacity for their whole career. They both know what has to be done and can sympathize with the poor bastards who'll get stuck doing it. They are not expected to seek a C level position. That's not their job. Getting shit done is their job, and no assignment or promotion will ever completely hamper that goal.
Meanwhile, the commissioned officers never manage the workers. Occasionally junior COs will try get things done that are a Bad Idea, and an NCO (eg, a warrant officer) will tell them to "Kindly fuck off, sir.". These people ARE expected to seek a C level position. Perhaps most importantly, if you demonstrate an inability to eventually achieve a C-level position, you may find yourself unwelcome, and encouraged to leave. "Up or Out"
I think where this breaks down when applied to civilians is that we don't distinguish people who DO from people who manage. If you can get things done, we should let you do that until the world ends. If you can't get things done, but you can kinda sorta interact with some people who do, should we really keep you around forever? It seems to me like maybe that's not such a good idea.