Why bottom-up management makes you a bad leader.

“Bad Leader” Created with the MidJourney AI, Art Directed by Chris Caldwell

I’ve experienced less than ideal working relationships between my reports and managers. In all these relationships, the dialogue was missing.

In most of these cases the person in the position of authority attempts to create an open door policy or claims to lead with a bottom-up management policy where the team’s have been told it’s their responsibility to surface things to their manager and it’s the managers job to provide advice, guidance, and support.

It sounds nice for both the manager and the report unfortunately, most reports don’t walk through the managers “open door” or surface issues. This leads to poorly performing people and teams that seem to stall and can’t work effectively together to move the people and business forward.

Effective people management requires leadership and direction from both people in the relationship because both roles have access to information the other needs to do their job better. Managers need to learn where they have blind spots and adjust accordingly to support their people and teams to create better outcomes and the teams and individuals need more information and direction in order to work with the greater clarity, purpose, focus, and autonomy.

If you’re a leader or manager and have an open door policy and no one is walking through it think about your own balance between top down and bottom up management styles. You’ll discover a gap in your leadership abilities, processes, practices, and expectations that your team hasn’t told you they expect you to be delivering in your role.

Here’s a few of my thoughts on why leading and managing with a strong bias towards bottom-up management may make you a bad manager in the eyes of the people you lead.

And here’s a few thoughts on how you can turn around your open door policy.

And if you’re struggling to define your style of leadership here’s a good place to start your journey into the world of effective leadership.

What‘s your perspective about bottom up management? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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