Many businesses draw their organisation charts in terms of a hierarchy of roles with the most senior manager at the top of the organisation cascading through to team members at the bottom.

This reinforces many manager’s view of leadership, i.e. they are at the top of the tree, and they command and control their organisation and need to continually ‘tell’ people what to do. After all they are the boss and know best!

But what type of behaviour does this encourage in their teams.

A key intrinsic human motivation is autonomy, i.e. to have influence, to be able to control and guide themselves in their work and life. The more controls a manager puts on their staff the more they squash the intrinsic motivation in their staff. The consequence of this is that while their staff may follow their ‘orders’ they will not take responsibility or accountability for anything they are not told to do.

However, if businesses turned their organisation charts upside down and put the boss at the bottom, whose role is not to control but support and create conditions for success. What if it was their role to create a culture and environment of self responsibility, accountability and high performance?

To do this requires a leader to give autonomy to their teams, to manage customer results and to appeal to the intrinsic motivation of autonomy.

This therefore is the leadership paradox, i.e. control vs. responsibility. The more controls a leader places on their team the less responsible they will be. So if you want greater responsibility and accountability from your staff reflect on your own behaviours and think how you can provide greater autonomy and relax the controls.