Project Management

Leadership: Top-Down or Bottom-Up?

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

Leadership is often an art, not a science. There are many different ways to lead people and many different kinds of leaders. Not all of the methods are optimal in all situations. Many times, the leader must learn to fit into the organization. Oftentimes, the leader and their leadership style is characterized by whether they work from the top down or from the bottom up. Examining the pros and cons of these two disparate methods can help you determine what kind of leader you need to be in order to make the maximum positive impact on your organization.

Top Down: Visibility
When you are leading from the top down, you spend a great deal of time telling other people what to do and when to do it. You work with other managers and ensure that they can tell their staff what to work on and when to work on it. You also spend time with the organization’s leaders getting direction from them and passing it on down the chain. This arrangement is a very typical organizational structure and has been utilized in companies for a very long time.

One of the benefits is that the leaders (project managers or otherwise) get a great deal of visibility. Workers in the organization know where to go when they need direction and the leaders can push work down to the teams easily when they need something done. The visibility you receive from being a top-down leader can help get the job …


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"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

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