sg-crest A Singapore Government Agency Website
Official website links end with
Secure websites use HTTPS
Look for a lock () or https:// as an added precaution. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
workipedia logo white

5 minute read

Business Leadership: Time to Let Go of the Rigid Top-Down Approach

The world of business is evolving rapidly, and with it, so must leadership strategies. Here’s why it’s time to move away from the old-fashioned top-down approach.

When visualising a typical company’s hierarchy, a pyramid-shaped structure often comes to mind — bosses at the top tier, the middle managers in the middle and the rest of the employees at the bottom. 

Management in these companies is straightforward: Decision-making, strategy development and policymaking rested with the big bosses at the top of the company, which would then be implemented by middle managers and followed through by employees. 

But is this top-down approach to running a business still relevant or effective in today’s context?

Looking to grow your team? Tap on our 500,000-strong talent pool of Singaporeans by posting your jobs on MyCareersFuture today.

Yes, bosses are still captains of the ship, but…

Let’s clear the air. We’re not saying that bosses should relinquish control of their companies and let employees run the show. However, know this: Even the most capable and experienced business leader cannot foresee the future and make perfect business decisions all the time.

In today’s business environment, where the pace of change is accelerating thanks to technological innovation, globalisation, and shifting consumer preferences, a rigid top-down approach — where only the bosses call the shots – may not be the best way forward for the company. 

Workipedia by MyCareersFuture brings you five reasons why.

Why the rigid top-down may not be the best approach

1. It restricts valuable feedback from employees

Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you know everything that’s happening to your business. Your employees are your senses on the ground, and they can be the best source of feedback.

In the course of their work, your employees may discover more effective or cost-saving ways to get things done. Perhaps it could even save your company millions of dollars in the long run.

However, if there is no channel for them to feedback to the top management, then you will never hear these valuable insights.

Attend walk-in interviews, virtual career fairs, workshops and more! Explore Career GRIT and find events and other resources best suited to your career journey. Check it out now.

2. It breeds toxic culture in the workplace

When communication is only a one-way channel, then be prepared for miscommunication to occur. If your employees are merely required to do as they’re told with no proper channel to seek clarification, they’re unable to see why certain protocols or policies are in place.

This may lead to miscommunication issues such as wrongful assumptions of workplace situations and gossip among employees, which will lead to overall unhappiness among staff.

A toxic workplace will display healthy numbers for a particular aspect — high turnover rates of employees at your company.

Read More: Tips on Creating a Healthier Company Culture in the Office

3. It contributes to non-accountability

Sometimes things may not go according to plan at the workplace. Perhaps there was a missing order, or the stock did not arrive at the warehouse as scheduled. When staff are not empowered to make decisions on what to do when emergencies occur, then no one will take control of the situation.

When staff are held unaccountable they take no ownership over their work.

So, you’re on vacation with your family? You’ll have to cut it short and return to the office to deal with this emergency. You are the boss!

4. It makes staff feel underappreciated by the management

Your employees are human beings with emotions and career aspirations. Yes, working in your factory’s production line doesn’t mean they’re robots. They may want their voice to be heard on certain issues at the workplace or contribute their ideas.

However, if your company’s policy is that employees are to only receive instructions and do as they’re told, be prepared for unhappiness to spread like wildfire in your company.

Read More: Job Perks: 4 Companies that Take Caring for Employees to a Whole New Level

5. It causes employees to lose a sense of purpose at work

Yes, we all know that the purpose of working is to earn an income. Money aside, your staff needs to feel a sense of fulfilment from doing work that’s meaningful to them. This also includes knowing how their contribution affects the company at large.

When your company has a rigid top-down approach to managing employees, this limits the two-way communication needed to establish a closer working relationship between you and your staff. There would be no way to know what makes them tick and motivates them at work. 

Unmotivated employees mean lower productivity and higher turnover rates.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach

The Great Resignation and Great Reshuffle are testaments that the workers of today are prioritising mental wellness and personal fulfilment over monetary rewards. As it stands, there is no one perfect way to manage a company, but an employer that takes good care of their staff will most likely reap business success in the long run.

Below is some useful reading on the topic of business leadership.

What Does it Mean to Be a Great Employer Today?

Leadership Qualities: Signs of a Good Leader in Times of Change

How Leaders Can Foster Innovation in Times of Crisis

Sun Zi’s Art of War: CEO Shares Key Takeaways for Business Success

3 Ways to Create a Culture of Ownership & Accountability in the Workplace

How Employers Can Balance Between People, Performance and Productivity

6 Ways to Enhance Teamwork Within Your Organisation

How to Create an Environment that Cultivates Critical Thinking

How Should You Show Appreciation for Your Workers?

6 Ways to Recharge Your Team Management

Purpose-Driven Leadership: The Key to Employee Retention

Learn to Lead: Adapting Your Management Style for Remote Teams

How Can Bosses Encourage Better Communication at Work?

Related topics:

Find more jobs like these at
MyCareersFuture Job Portal