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Command and control style of management Essay


The Command and control management method usually takes the form of a military management style. A manager- employee relationship is a mutual agreement whereby it should always be a “win- win” situation between the two parties (Linstead, Lilley, & Fulop, 2009, p21).

When a manager assumes an unwarranted- commanding or authoritative stance with a junior employee, the subordinate staffs feels less respected and appreciated, and will acquire a reduced desire and self- confidence to contribute.

Consequently, bottom- top communication will be reduced. This consequently reduces the manager’s capacity of making sound decisions, judgments and policies to the level of demeaning their perceptiveness to competency.

Human beings work harder when they possess intrinsic motivation. This means that motivation comes when employees feel they are influencing organizational performance and decisions positively (Northouse, 2007, p12).

The command and control style of management operates using intrinsic motivators that lean towards authority, threats, and monetary incentives. These motivations modes substitute employees’ intrinsic and natural motivation.

A style of management that endows employees with a sense of ownership of their tools, methods, and results, as well as a good feeling of collaborating with and assisting fellow stakeholder (customers, co-workers, and suppliers) is a source of intrinsic motivation (Northouse, 2007, p13).

Employees perform better because they enjoy how collaborative achievement makes them feel, as well as feeling appreciated and valuable. This line of thought is known as the “psychological pay” principle. Command and control or top- down management style takes the appreciative feeling from them.

Research has reflected that individuals put more effort in undertaking tasks for people they respect, and possibly like. A manager ought to understand that the employees in the lower levels, who carry out all the manual labor, normally have a clearer perspective of the organization’s problems and challenges better than they can (Graetz, 2006, p26).

A manager who has this fact in mind can obtain the employees’ efforts and support more effectively and easily in comparison to a “commander” with a mindset that he or she knows better than their junior employees can.

This attitude and belief distances subordinates and mislays their respect, loyalty, and input. Worse enough, it may push them to undercut and sabotage the organization’s performance in mild ad mysterious ways, though unacceptable, just in their urge to revenge.

Employees work in a dedicated manner when they are not working under any threat. Some “commander” managers use mild threats to accomplish tasks (Northouse, 2007, p36). This may place employees in a condition where they do not foresee success.

This can significantly kill an employee’s morale and work output. In addition, it does not only demotivate the employee affected, but also, for Co-workers who view the happenings, as they will dread facing the same predicament themselves.

Employees actively and indirectly look down at a manger that they suspect or observe that he disrespects them and abusive (Graetz, 2006, p29). This will drastically reduce their work output, as they would be demotivated to work with the manager.

Furthermore, it also results to employee turnover especially of the productive and experienced to other organizations within the industry, causing more damage to the organization. Unavoidably, once a manager acquires a negative image, it may consume much time and effort to reverse the perspective and employee attitudes towards the manager.

Therefore, a manager should put in mind that it could take a minute to damage self-image, and take years to mend the damaged image. Thus, disrespect subjected to a subordinate employee, even in private, poses an immense threat to a manger’s career.

The risk of achieving a negative image is augmented for managers since; their subordinates look up to them for guidance, and they require them to be well positioned to accomplish tasks effectively and efficiently (Linstead, Lilley, & Fulop, 2009, p42).

In order to be successful in their roles and duties, managers are supposed to maintain a reciprocally affirmative and positive association with their employees.

Command and Control Style of Leadership Assumptions

First, there is the “divide and rule” concept, which focuses on dividing the organizational staff into two clusters: those giving direction and those following the direction (Northouse, 2007, p58).

Secondly, another assumption is that the role of managers is to give employees instructions on how to undertake tasks, and the role of employees is to undertake the tasks directed to them. The third assumption is that the style values obedience and loyalty.

The other assumption is that the style has the right to take an arbitrator role. The fifth assumption is that it gives significance to titles, assuming that with title brings about rank and privilege.

Lastly, it assumes that titles bring about deference; this is belief that employee with minor titles will contradict those with major titles, and title alone is adequate to warrant the deference.

Characteristics Shared by Managers Whose Mannerisms Match the Command and Control Assumptions

They make vital decisions individually within the department; thus, managers should be obeyed, as they reveal a representation of infallibility (Linstead, Lilley, & Fulop, 2009, p61).

In addition, the managers play favorites, and are the only distributors of sanctions and rewards, which are dispensed according to the manager’s pleasure or displeasure.

Main Problems of Command and Control

The command and control style aims at acquiring information to feed into the process of decision- making, though the employees in the lower level of the organizational hierarchy are only asked to supply raw data, and not required to suggest a course of action, since that role is left for command (Northouse, 2007, p64).

The employees in the lower hierarchy level are thus informed on the local situation, and not about the wider picture, from which they are barred. The managers fear that if the minor employees were aware of the wider perspective, this might alter their analysis of their direct environment.

Secondly, the decisions of the commander depend on the second- hand or third- hand information. In spite of the fact that the leader or manager has his eyes on the wide picture, there are high chances that the commander may be misinformed on the vital facts on the ground (Northouse, 2007, p58).

Another problem is that, it takes long before information made at the top management level is transmitted down the chain of command. The last serious problem is that command and control depends on a single individual’s judgment, that is, the commander.

Thus, the possibility of success and failure depends on a single individual’s decision- making expertise and skills.

There is a modern model of leadership style that has emerged. According to this mode, the management and control of modern organizations requires a higher level of consultation, collaboration, and employee empowerment (Linstead, Lilley, & Fulop, 2009, p66).

The decision- making process ought to be brought nearer to the consumer and leaders have to support input and innovative ideas from the entire organization.

The new model supports consultation such that contemporary managers and leaders are required to undertake continuous consultations with the entire organization (Graetz, 2006, p38). The consultations must result to a consensus prior to implementation of key policies.

An organization that constantly seizes the opportunity to combat probable issues and challenges, which ensue from a new plan, has a higher chance of successfully implementing its plan. The success arises from the fact that the plan is not imposed on the employees, but rather they have imposed.

A further pillar of the model is empowerment. Organizational managers and team leaders ought to be allowed enough space in choosing the best course of action within the entire strategy (Graetz, 2006, p42).

Contemporary managers and leaders ought to issue their teams the direction and goals, and then trust them to undertake quality verdicts for themselves.

The contemporary leadership style also aims at shifting the decisions nearer to the consumer. In numerous organizations, the teams nearest to the consumer are best positioned to identify their needs (Northouse, 2007, p67).

Contemporary leaders should set up systems to assure the requirements of all stakeholders are heard and involved in decision- making process in a sequential and structural way, as well as empower them to undertake fast and effective decisions.

An additional pillar of the contemporary model is tapping organizational intelligence. The entire organization is more knowledgeable than the leadership and is an enormous resource of ideas and energy (Northouse, 2007, p58).

Some contemporary organizations permit employees to influence the organizational direction by exhibiting their preference for various projects. Other organizations reward and encourage entrepreneurial ideas from any stakeholder, and develop small ad hoc committees to explore and these ideas.

The other leadership style is the achievement related style. This mainly entails instilling an inspiring purpose (Graetz, 2006, p56). A major source of enthusiasm and self- drive is a credible, clear and stimulating organizational function. This purpose is a “reason for existence” which in turn, interprets into a “purpose for being there”, which by far surpasses monetary gain.

Every manager ought to underline precisely a strong reason for his unit. The purpose statement is impressive mainly because it was originated from a small company away from the attention of executives and professional wordsmith.

In this style, the leader gives recognition to employees. Managers should ensure that all contributions made by employees are recognized, be they small or large. Workers have clearly stated repeatedly how much they treasure a compliment (Graetz, 2006, p59).

However, the same employees are also apprehensive and distressed when the managers do not make an effort to express gratitude to them for a well-done job but are swift to condemn them for making mistakes. Instead of leaving employees contented, recognition augments their achievements, and pushing them to accomplish more.

Moreover, another pillar of this style is communicating fully. Information in an organization ought not to be distributed based on “need to know”. This is normally a method of entirely, destructively, and unnecessarily, limiting information flow in an organization (Graetz, 2006, p62).

Inadequate employee communication channels are one of the greatest causes of employee negative attitudes. Very few barriers should be placed in the organizational information flow in order to enhance employee morale and respect for the organization and senior managers.

Follow- up on employees should be undertaken to ensure that they have clearly understood the message.

One more aspect of this style is promoting teamwork. Most tasks require teamwork for effective accomplishment. Research has revealed that quality of group efforts in problem solving out passes the quality of work by individuals working separately. Thus, teamwork boosts employee motivation (Northouse, 2007, p70).

Managers should group employees into self- managed teams handling matters such as scheduling, quality control, and costing. Such teams only demand little management efforts resulting to a favorable decline in management costs and layers.

A manager requires undertaking careful assessment of the best combination of team players (Northouse, 2007, p71). Meanwhile, it is vital to develop an opportunity for cross- learning and variation of methods, ideas, and approaches.

The manager should clearly inform the newly developed team of their role, the mode of its operations, and the organization’s expectations from them.


It has posed to be a complex task for the management team to develop management systems that effectively encompass these principles. However, modern organizations are forced to drift towards that direction.

The modern- day highly- knowledgeable and movable knowledge- workers cannot tolerate a ‘production line’ working approach. They continuously anticipate being asked for their contributions.

A leader who is not tapping all the knowledge, skills, and experience of his or her Co-workers is wasting numerous talents, as well as failing to encompass employees in a combined effort to develop a high- performing and successful organization.

Reference List

Graetz, F. 2006. Managing organizational change. Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia.

Linstead, S., Lilley, S., & Fulop, L. 2009. Management and organization: a critical text. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Northouse, P. G. 2007. Leadership: theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

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