3 ways to help you unlearn top-down leadership

Lisa Gill
2 min readMar 28, 2022

If you want to be a good leader in a self-managing team or organisation, you have some unlearning to do.

I’ve spoken to more than 50 leaders for my podcast who have shared stories of the different ways they have overcome this challenge.

Here are just three examples I wanted to share.

#1. Hack your habits

Many leaders are in the habit of problem-solving automatically.

When Topi Jokinen, CEO of Vertia, notices something he thinks needs to be addressed, he sets a reminder for himself in 1–2 weeks’ time. Often things get solved without him, and if not, he’s able to be more conscious and aware of how he acts.

#2. Learn out loud

Inevitably you will revert back to old habits on occasion, and when you do, be open about it.

Helen Sanderson, founder of Wellbeing Teams, caught herself inviting someone to join a team meeting before realising it wasn’t her decision. She shared her error, apologised, and undid her decision in order for it to be made in the team instead. Helen turned it into a powerful learning moment, demonstrating her commitment to a different kind of leadership.

#3. Invite feedback

“Leadership development is a team sport.”

That’s what Edwin Jansen, Head of Corporate Development at Ian Martin Group, and his colleagues believe. One coworker gave him feedback about being dominant in meetings sometimes and he turned it into a personal development project, speaking to other colleagues about how he could work on this.

Leaders, the top-down conditioning is strong. May these three tips help you on along the way!

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Lisa Gill

Founder of Reimaginaire, trainer and coach with Tuff Leadership Training, host of Leadermorphosis podcast.