The landscape of business is evolving at a pace we’ve never seen before. And as Leaders, we need to adapt.

The fact, the traditional command and control leadership style has lost its relevance and Business Owners must recognise that this outdated approach no longer gets results.

Instead, a new way of thinking and leading is required to navigate the complexities and uncertainties of the modern world. It’s time to challenge the status quo, disrupt what’s gone before us, and embrace a more effective, progressive, and human approach to leadership.

Why Command & Control Leadership doesn’t work

Ah, the good old days. Many of us can remember working for a leader who lived in their ivory tower and ruled with an iron fist. You would have been trapped in an overly political, hierarchical structure, seen nothing but top-down decision-making, and never asked to share your perspective.

This approach assumed that the person at the top knew all the answers, and people were viewed (and treated) as subordinates who were there simply to deliver for the powers that be.

This top-heavy model breeds disempowerment and massively limits the growth potential of the business and its people. In this model there is:

1.    Disengagement

When staff are treated as passive followers rather than active participants, their motivation and commitment diminish. Command and control leadership creates a culture of robotic compliance, where staff lack ownership, motivation, and a sense of purpose.

2.    Little or no Innovation

If autonomy is not permitted, there’s no independent thinking. Command and control leadership puts a stop to innovation because staff are not asked to contribute fresh ideas, problem-solve issues, or create new ways of doing things.

3.    A lack of Adaptability

Hierarchical structures that are inflexible with rigid decision-making processes causes there to be no ability to respond quickly to market shifts and new opportunities.

4.    Limited Collaboration

Command and control leaders don’t tap into the collective wisdom of their teams, missing out on diverse thinking and valuable insights. This breeds silos and means there’s no cross-functional collaboration, which can be a very lonely place for the people working within it

Embracing the new way

Leaders must break away from a Command and Control leadership style and shift to a more inclusive and empowering approach.

Here are four key principles to consider:

1.    A Focus on Purpose and Values

Create a compelling Vision, Purpose, and Company Values that guide the business forward – people want their work to have meaning and to connect to something bigger. Create these with your team so they feel involved and invested in the process.

Consistently communicate the vision and purpose and embed the Company Values so they are lived and breathed by everyone in the company. Measure performance on ‘how’ people do things as well as ‘what’ they deliver. Lead by example and embody the values day in, day out to inspire and motivate your staff.

2.    Promote Empowerment

Create a Culture where every individual is encouraged to take ownership, make decisions, and contribute their expertise. Provide autonomy to your team and make it clear that it’s safe to fail. Encourage a growth-mindset as part of your culture and support experimentation and continuous learning

3.    Collaborative Decision-Making

Engage your people in the decision-making process. Gather diverse viewpoints, encourage open dialogue and debate and the co-creation of solutions. This will enhance the quality of decisions made and also re-enforce a sense of ownership and commitment among team members as they feel involved and listened to

4.    Continuous feedback

Regularly ask for feedback from your team and what they want to see more and less of. Invest in anonymous Staff Surveys so people can share their views freely. Actively communicate what you’ve learnt and – most importantly – follow up on what they suggest to show you have listened. Encourage your people to regularly ask for feedback from those they work with so they are constantly learning and growing. Create a trusting environment where people can give constructive and positive feedback with ease

In Summary

Command and control leadership is a thing of the past from a different era, and it no longer meets the needs of today’s business world.

To drive success, Business Owners must break free from this outdated approach and embrace a more progressive, empowering, and collaborative leadership style. By focussing on Purpose and Values, promoting empowerment, encouraging collaborative decision-making and continuous feedback, Business Owners will unlock the full potential of their people and business.

Let us all challenge the by-gone days and create a new path towards a more inclusive and impactful future for everyone.