Command and control leadership

12 years back Deborah Ancona, Thomas Malone, Wanda Orlikowski and Peter Senge authored this article, which remains relevant even today. This one sentence itself makes clear the role of leaders in today’s world:

“In today’s world, the executive’s job is no longer to command and control but to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization.”

In praise of the incomplete leader

The article mentioned four key capabilities and the balance between them – sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing – and it clearly establishes the relevance for organisations across all sizes.

Gone are the days already when one could stake its claim to a leadership role simply because of background, pedigree or seniority in terms of number of years of experience. With so many young and brilliant minds joining the workforce, equipped with the power of latest technologies and tools, the successful organisations will be the ones which are able to:

  • Encourage free exchange of ideas
  • Discard unnecessary paper work and bureaucracy in favor of using web based tools
  • Facilitate employees in learning more and finding better solutions

I believe the command and control type of leadership emerged because of the generations which grew up in the post world war era because they were in awe of the military might, rightly so maybe. And hence it may have resonated with the generations wherein one was expected to follow orders in an era of rapid industrial growth, post 1950s.

Now, especially post 1990s when we look at the world, it got a lot knowledge driven and now probably more data driven. It means not just the demography but people’s behaviour as well has changed – being knowledge driven means you encourage people to ask questions which is starkly different than a command and control style where you are supposed to follow instructions without asking.

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