One of the disheartening outcomes of the traditional hierarchical model of management is that it fosters the mindset that managers need to have all the answers. In a command and control environment, if someone is in a position of power, it follows that they must have the answers. Subordinates look up to them for the answers and wait for their leaders to ‘show them the way’. This is an uncomfortable situation for both leader and subordinate/s. Subordinates generally resent having to be told what to do and if they’re never given the chance to find a solution for themselves, they stop trying and often never believe that they can. They also don’t feel the need to take responsibility for the chosen solution, as it wasn’t their decision in the first place. On the flip side, leaders don’t always have the answers (although some like to think they do). This structure puts enormous pressure on them to believe that they always have to have answers and those answers have to be right. It makes them shy away from being vulnerable.
A more collaborative way of working benefits from a variety of perspectives, encouraging people with different backgrounds and experience to voice their opinions and thoughts. It also removes the stress of a leader always having to have an answer, encouraging teams to come to a solution that they all can stand behind (as long as it’s not a case of Groupthink).
If you’re a leader or manager in a traditional hierarchical organisation and you’re struggling to find an answer, reach out to your team. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
To hear more about vulnerability and why it’s actually good for you, watch this Ted talk.