Scrap the Command and Control

7296928208_b8bc30183e_zLeadership in this 21st century is less about command and control, and more about healthy relationships and the ability to listen well, asking deeper more meaningful questions with the aim of bringing out the best in those you lead. People are no longer interested in working for leaders whose approach is the old command and control style. “The old models of ‘command and control,’ and management having all the answers, are no longer up to the task.”

This is not to say the command and control approach is not necessary anymore, because there will be times when it is needed. When an organization is in crisis and a new leader is brought in, this approach may be necessary for a period of time to get the crisis under control. But if the organization is going to succeed in reaching its objectives going forward, the command and control approach will not do the job.

How do you lead without the command and control approach?

You don’t have to know it all. Your followers do not expect you to know it all. Gone are the days when followers look to their leaders as the source of all knowledge. This is a direct result of the information revolution that we have been experiencing for the past 20 years.

Leaders with the command and control approach operate as though they are the one with the information, and therefore, tasks have to be done their way, and their answers are always correct. They believe that people are following them because they have the answers.

Trust your people. You must trust those you are leading to have what it takes to get the work done without you being involved or controlling at every level. This outdated approach undermines the valuable knowledge and experience of staff, and it does not work in today’s complicated, fast-paced, knowledge-based, technologically driven world.

Command and control inhibits the ability of those you lead because they are not given the freedom to create the environment and use their skills and talents freely without you getting in the way. As a leader, you should seek to instill confidence in your follower by trusting them to get things done.

Change your leadership style. Change from command and control to being more flexible/innovative as a leader. Do more collaborating, motivating, empowering and supporting of those you lead. Good leadership don’t only get results, but the people involved in getting the results also achieve growth in their own lives through the experience.

The new approach calls for you to be more people focused rather than results focused. When followers feel inspired because they are listened to and respected by their leader, the result is they are motivated to give more than you demand of them to the organization.

I have included a comparison chart developed by Paul Sloane that will help you to quickly compare the command and control type leader and the type of leader you need to be to lead effectively in this new era. Take a few minutes and ponder your leadership style. Maybe it is time for you to strike out the command and control approach and start being innovative.

Leader compare

If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.

Photo credit: Henri Photography via Small Kitchen / CC BY