Top Down Leadership vs Bottom Up Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Management, Servant leadership Pages: 7 (2902 words) Published: August 10, 2011
Top down Leadership versus Bottom up Leadership
Top down leadership has in many ways been the cultural gnome in terms of leadership styles for probably the longest time in history Likert termed it Exploitive authoritative. “In this style, the leader has a low concern for people and uses such methods as threats and other fear-based methods to achieve conformance. Communication is almost entirely downwards and the psychologically distant concerns of people are ignored.” (Likert, 1969) Top down leadership has had a deep impact and so much intertwined with human culture that it is deemed to be simply the natural form of leadership. There are many other forms of leadership styles being nurtured so as to adapt with cultural changes and views on leadership roles, not to say they are any lesser but top down and bottom up were at both extremes of the leadership spectrum hence choosing to focus on the two. The structure of most organizations is based on an autocratic hierarchy that is based on the notion that the ‘workers’ need to be very closely supervised by those in ‘management’. In the distant past there may have been some truth to this assertion, however, in today’s world it is becoming increasingly spurious. Yet after a whole heap of culture change initiatives carried out in many organizations very little positive change has occurred. The reason is clear to see as the hierarchy is naturally committed to retaining the status quo between the roles of those called ‘bosses’ from those labeled the ‘workers’.” (para11, Jaap, June 2011) Bottom-up leadership however “occurs when employees become innovative and questioning, making suggestions and pushing boundaries. “Thought leadership” is similar, although it is more about championing new ideas than managing people or helping a group achieve a goal. However, in both cases, the leadership can be directed upward, and it ends once senior managers accept the proposed ideas.” (Ki-Young & Mi-Jin 2008 summer p.59) The concept of bottom up leadership requires a person to think outside of the box because it challenges mainstream beliefs and ideologies as regards to leadership roles. There is an oriental saying that states “cup would have to be poured out to allow room for more a filled”. Which implies putting aside of one’s wisdom so as to learn new material. Jaap characterization of a bottom up leader is that “An effective leader is considered to be someone who has the ability to share a compelling vision of a desirable outcome, create the environment in which a group of individuals work as a collaborative team focused on turning the vision into a reality.” (Par5 Jaap 2008) For most people the bottom up concept is relatively not applied as it really should due to the fact that people who are in leadership roles tend to have insecurities if more flexibility were to be offered to employees. The leaders deem that people would in actuality develop some form of negligence to those that are in position of authority. Take for instance the anti government protests that developed all across the Middle East, these protests are as a result of people who are frustrated by the top down leadership style being carried out by their leaders. Leadership as it was in these Arab nations was flowing only on a downstream when it came to the issue of communication, for the people’s concerns were being met by brutal force which included jail term and death in some cases to any person that seemed to offer an alternative to the top down leadership that was in place. The western world has a strong belief for equal rights for all and most importantly the right for all to live a fulfilled life and it is quite apparent as the Arabs began questioning for these same rights their leaders who had their heads buried under the sand were under the assumption that their usual scare tactics would quench the flames of revolution. However, these were not the usual times in Arab nations, the revolutionary flames burn on...

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