Further to my blog ‘Which Leadership Model Now?’ I invite consideration and challenge perceptions of the concept of Command as a values and behaviours based leadership model fit for the present day. I believe the concept of Command, parodied and mocked in various forms of comic entertainment and blamed for atrocities and spectacular failures in history, as a leadership style has been over simplified and is insufficiently understood. As a result, it is too widely presumed to mean a dictatorial, non-inclusive approach to leadership and associated with a communication style almost exclusively authoritative, impersonal and direct; holistically lacking in emotional intelligence and emotional literacy. When delivering Leadership Development Training I most frequently experience delegates initially confining the appropriate use of Command as a leadership style to dealing with emergency situations. If any or all of the above resonate then you may find the following somewhat surprising and possibly challenging.

British military doctrine defines command as; the authority vested in an individual for the direction, coordination and control of military forces. It is concerned primarily with leadership, responsibility and decision making. Clearly written in a military context but very easily contextualised in a civilian perspective by replacing; military forces with assets and resources; leadership with influence and motivation; responsibility with accountability and ownership; and decision making with judgement. Based on this, I suggest Command as a leadership style is the exercise of the authority vested in a leader for the direction, coordination and control of assets and resources. It is concerned primarily with influencing and motivating people, accountability for and ownership of actions and decisions based on judgement.

I offer the following definition of Command as a leadership style for consideration:

“The application of the authority held by an individual to direct, coordinate and control assets and resources; primarily by influencing and motivating others, whilst accepting accountability for and ownership of outcomes from decisions and behaviours based on their judgement.”

I ask the following questions in relation to this definition:

As followers, is this a definition of the type of leadership we want to see and subject ourselves to?

As leaders and managers, is this a definition of behaviours and values we feel worthy of aspiring to?

Is this an appropriate leadership style for today?

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