Top down and bottom up

top down bottom up

Yesterday I wrote “The fish rots from the head“, highlighting the importance of addressing cultural issues in an organisation first at the top leadership level, as otherwise if it starts from grassroots it will simply not work, as people will watch the leaders and how they behave and not give their full engagement and buy-in.

Today a short follow up to that, simply that in the question of whether to lead change bottom up or top down, my answer is “both and” as opposed to “either or”.

True change must engage, align and enrol the entire organisation. Top-down alone will not do that, and at the same time we do, as humans, like to have a frame provided by leaders.

Now, I do find the concept of self-managed organisations powerful (see my post on the book “Reinventing Organisations“), and, at the same time, my experience leading and working with leaders or organisations is that this remains that “both and” conversation. Yes, the more self-managed an organisation can be the better it is in an #OpenLeadership way, yet some leadership and direction from the “top” are always needed.


Also published on Medium.

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