Top 10 Myths About Democratic Management

The Power of Self-Management

Self-management is a principle that we believe is the fundamental requirement for empowering both people and organizational success in today’s unprecedented times, as well as in our future economy. Self-management is a hot topic at the moment, and often pops up in discussions –but what is self-management? And, where do you start, once you’ve decided to go down this road? We see self-management as the value of letting teams operate like micro-organizations that are autonomous and self-reliant.

Today, there’s a huge repository of research that confirms the positive effects of allowing teams to be self-managed, with minimal or no interference from the management. Autonomous teams help organizations respond faster and nimbly to the dynamic changes of today’s markets. Having busted through the proverbial bureaucratic red tape, these teams can cut to the chase and solve problems as and when they emerge.


Many organizations and their leaders make the mistake of focusing too acutely on the end-goal – a matured, self-managed team that functions completely autonomously. However, it’s not something that can be achieved overnight, and the leadership needs to allow newly self-managed teams to gradually grow in their maturity.

To begin with, there are a number of things that teams, as well as the leadership, need to unlearn. Trust needs to be established, clarity on roles and responsibilities should be created and teams need to figure out how to make their own decisions, solve problems and resolve conflicts by themselves. In other words, self-management is a muscle that needs to be developed slowly and consistently – there are no shortcuts here.


Organizations just getting started with the self-management principle believe it’s important for their managers to “let-go” of all control – a notion that cannot just confuse middle-management, but also the newly self-managed teams. For, when a problem strikes, both team members and managers, alike, are used to expecting the latter to take charge and resolve the issue.

However, there’s no place for such top-down management in self-managed organizations. So, managers as well as their teams need to learn how to take control of the issue – together.  Earlier, problems may have been solved by managers, irrespective of whether they were directly involved in them or experienced the consequences themselves.


Managers need to be shown how they can trust their teams to arrive at the solutions themselves and establish boundaries to create psychological safety for newly self-managed teams. The teams, on the other hand, need to be given the confidence that they can, in fact, resolve their own issues.

The trust, psychological safety, and confidence are among the foundational concepts of a self-managed organization and once it’s firmly in place, teams will be able to increasingly resolve their own issues, while managers facilitate without actually getting their hands dirty.

Want to dive deeper into the topic of self-management and gain some practical insights about how to get started? Sign up for our free webinar “The Power of Self-Management”!