Top Down, Bottom Up
Why a Meet-in-the-Middle Leadership Strategy is Best
When I say Top Down, Bottom Up, I’m not talking about the latest dance craze, playing Twister, or even the slang term for a sweet 80’s mullet. I’m talking about leadership styles and why combining both for a Meet in the Middle approach is the best option.
Strong companies with a sound culture use this methodology. But what is a Top Down, Bottom Up or Meet in the Middle approach? It’s when upper management and employees at all levels meet and communicate regularly. This allows everyone to ask questions, challenge existing ideas, and make informed decisions. The message comes from the top, but voices from the bottom are also heard – and when they meet in the middle, the voice is the same.
Sounds great, right? But just how do you do that? Here are five things that make this style work:
1. Regular Update Meetings. Update meetings should happen between multiple levels of the company where information can move honestly up and down. These can be weekly location meetings, monthly global meetings, daily team meetings, or whatever works best for your team.
2. Send Out Regular Communication. This includes emails, announcements, chats, etc. Don’t just communicate bad news, as that sets negative expectations and teaches your employees to expect the worst. Use your communications to celebrate as much as you use them to inform and prepare.
3. Make Sure Every Level is Involved. Ultimately, leaders still lead and make decisions, but they rely on the team to enlighten, inform, and educate them. Create committees across different levels of the company so everyone has a voice or a way to have one.
4. Create Buy-In. Buy-in from everyone is important, so bring in enough folks from the affected groups early in the process. If a decision is made, questions should be presented and answered honestly.
5. Have the Tough Conversations. The trajectory of the company should be shared regularly, so that employees make informed decisions. Tough times and choices should not be a surprise. If you don’t have the trust of your team, you don’t have anything.
As a leader, it’s important to remain consistent in applying this approach. If a new process is implemented, bring it in as Top Down, Bottom Up. Nothing sucks more than trying to implement a new process that doesn’t succeed because an important CEO or stakeholder wasn’t brought on to begin with. If you implement something new to help your team, like a routine, make sure to learn it also, or you’re making more work for the team.
Similarly, do the work for finding the compromise ahead of time. People hate having their time wasted, so if you’re looking for a certain leadership style in incoming leaders, such as Servant Leadership, make sure the rest of the company has pivoted that way too. It’s silly to expect part of your team to operate one way, and the other part another. It’s so important to be on the same page – that way there are no surprises.
Ultimately, bad leaders make you feel like you work for them, and good leaders make you feel like you work for each other. In the best cultures, people feel like they can say anything, which is why Top Down, Bottom Up is so great. Meet in the Middle is about compromise, communication, and harmony – and that is awesome. Are you ready to get awesome? Press Start!
Hope you enjoyed the best leadership strategy for winning teams. Let me know if you agree or if you have another leadership strategy in the comments below.