March 2, 2017

In the Age of Disruption, Is Command and Control Leadership Dead?

March 2, 2017

In the Age of Disruption, Is Command and Control Leadership Dead?

Disruption, Culture & Leadership

In 2025, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist. In the age of disruption, complacency has no place in great leadership.



There’s a right kind of leadership at the right time.

There are several ways to lead and manage staff that motivate and inspire them to grow. Having worked with and mentored different CEOs and managers in her line of work, Stephanie Christopher (CEO of The Executive Connection), as interviewed by Ashton Bishop (CEO of Step Change), knows firsthand the impact of leadership style on an organisation.

Leadership depends on context, language, and execution. With command-and-control leaders, often the words “I’m the boss, I make the rules around here” and “If you don’t hear back from me, that means you’re doing okay” are the primary means of guidance. They are usually closed to contradictions and make decisions without consultation. They are results and numbers oriented, and to them, failure is not an option.

While these characteristics sound dire, command-and-control leadership is helpful and relevant in certain contexts — for instance, Stephanie points out, when a company is trying to get out of a crisis or an emergency. This style of leadership is directional and focused, and due to the forward style of communication, it drives employees towards one goal. The type of leadership required in each organisation depends on the context of the business and the culture of the company. There is no right or wrong way to lead; it’s more about how you lead in the context you’re in.


Leadership through disruption: Beyond command-and-control

Volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous — this best describes the environment in which business is conducted daily. Often in a VUCA environment, the best way to lead and do business is not always clear. Changes are unstable, events are unpredictable, diverse and connected factors are at play, and causal relationships are unclear.

By clearly defining the way you engage with your team and by involving them in the decision-making process, you can ensure better team alignment towards a common goal.

  1. Engage with your team. Instead of imposing your authority (“I’m the boss, I make the rules here”), empower your team by asking their feedback, soliciting their input before making a decision, and encouraging innovative ideas.
  2. Engage with your stakeholders. They are not just participants of your focus groups — consider them as your partners, and keep them involved. Working with them and getting their feedback on what they want will create alignment and clarity.
  3. Engage with your community. The benefits of being involved in community go beyond boosting brand awareness. It allows you to know the people whom your business is communicating to, and it gives you an in-depth understanding of what they truly need, hence you are more capable of providing them with a better service.




Stephanie-Christopher-TEC.jpgStephanie Christopher is the CEO of The Executive Connection (TEC), the world’s largest CEO organisation with over 21,000 members in 16 countries through the global Vistage network. Stephanie’s role at TEC puts her in the heart of the Australian and New Zealand business community on a daily basis, speaking to CEOs and business leaders about the challenges and opportunities that they are facing.

Ashton-Bishop.jpegAshton Bishop is Australia’s first Predatory Marketer and the CEO of Step Change — an expert in pinpointing how businesses can grow by outsmarting their competitors. His niche is in strategy, where he has spent the last 14 years working internationally on some of the world’s biggest brands. He’s a business owner and serial entrepreneur — challenging, sometimes even controversial — but always focused on what gets results.



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