Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. What works for one team might not work for another, and it’s okay to experiment with or stray from traditional styles.
In fact, there doesn’t even have to be one person leading a team. An approach called bottom-up leadership allows for workers of all levels to have a say, inspiring autonomy within a team. Here’s what you need to know about the strategy.
What is bottom-up leadership?
Bottom-up leadership is a state of mind, and all titles are respected equally, according to Matt Basford, New York general manager at Beyond. Each member of the company is just as important as the next.
“In today’s overly complex, ever-changing world, every employee at every level needs to be thinking strategically, looking for new opportunities – for the business, as well as for their own career growth,” said Diane Belcher, senior director of product management at Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning.
Bottom-up leadership can also be described as distributed empowerment, said Basford. This mindset ensures that each team and employee is empowered to operate independently and with the freedom to make decisions that best reflect the different factors they are optimizing for.
“Bottom-up leadership doesn’t discount centralized vision and strategy,” said Basford. “Those are actually critical for a more decentralized model to flourish.”
Benefits of a ‘distributed’ leadership style
While some workers are used to a more traditional style of leadership, bottom-up leadership creates more loyalty and an increased sense of fulfillment among employees, because they feel they are being trusted.
“It also allows ideas to spread with much more velocity across the organization because you have placed a greater emphasis on emergent thinking and entrepreneurialism,” Basford told Business News Daily.
Belcher noted that bottom-up leadership also often leads to a culture of greater learning agility.
“Rather than simply following a business-as-usual routine, employees that have the adaptability to learn are able to consistently reflect on the effectiveness of their skills, ultimately helping them improve efficiency and achieve better results,” Belcher said. “This style of leadership leverages the full talents and skillsets of employees.”
Charlie Lyons, general manager of Beyond in London, said that Beyond is living proof that talent and hard work matter. He noted that the company has former interns and account managers now leading departments and officess, which allows employees to feel trusted and capable and to learn through experience.
“In more traditional environments, they would be blocked from progressing and end up leaving,” said Lyons. “There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing great young talent thrive.”