”Command and control” management style

Over time, research has shown that organisations perform better when leaders encourage, empower and coach employees instead of giving orders and enforcing strict rules of discipline and obedience.

But how many times has your boss ordered you to do something instead of explaining clearly and unbiasedly what you have to do? If "Why do this! Because I said so!" sounds familiar, it's most likely that your boss has a "command and control" management style.

Lack of self-confidence versus lack of confidence in others

Why do some leaders continue to obsess about being in control and lead by twisted commands?

At root, the tendency to rely on the command position stems from the leader's anxiety and lack of self-confidence. And, as anyone who has worked for a micromanager can attest, this leadershit style tends to increase team anxiety as well.

You know the expression "got me by the mouth"? Well, that's what happens to managers who have this kind of authoritarian and controlling attitude. Brain power inspires our every word and action as leaders, but often the electrical force of our mind automatically takes over and limits our judgement, and the result is an authoritarian command-and-control attitude.

How should managers use this energy to lead in a more humane, effective and sustainable way?

Learn to give freedom

Commanding people to behave in a way that aligns with your interests and neglecting theirs can't build strong teams, precisely because it goes against the way human brains work. While certain situations require command methods (military drills; stopping a child from running away on a busy street), they rarely work in most civilian areas of our lives.

When parents don't create space for their child's independence, they impede the development of a healthy sense of autonomy and lead to more and deeper parent-child conflicts. In romantic relationships, the energy of command over seemingly minor things - how to do the dishes or what show to watch on TV - can lead to deep discomfort.

In the workplace, the command style can be destructive in collegial relationships and between managers and team members. People, naturally inclined towards autonomy, feel constrained, controlled, which directly affects their emotional health and work. That is why it is essential for managers to be aware of this behaviour in the first place and to start making a change towards autonomy and freedom, which are essential for the well-being of the whole team.

Identify the moments when you are dominated by the desire for control

To identify when you become in control, look for situations where you are "shooting" just for yourself. Have you ever tried, in a conflict with someone, to repeatedly insist that you were right while they kept insisting that you were wrong? Have you tried to convince him to be like you? In each of those situations, you try to pull in one direction while the other person pulls in the opposite direction.

What is the fastest way to end such a situation? Leave it to you. You may start to protest, "But why do I have to let go? Why can't they let go?". Letting go can feel like walking away from the fight. You're giving up. You lose. But it's not. The person who voluntarily gives up hubris and authority and seeks a negotiated win-win solution is a wise leader. Your role as a leader is to translate your vision for the team so that people feel that all their work is first and foremost about them, their group and how they can reach their full potential.

No one will follow you while they fight you

People get stuck in such conflictual situations when they feel their independence is disregarded, when their needs are ignored and their ideas are devalued. The mentality of ruling by the authority of office is often the cause: people can understand that there will be situations where they don't get what they want, but what they can't accept is the feeling of domination. As you begin to change your attitude, mindset and working style, you will notice significant changes in the behaviour of those you lead.

You may think you are bossing others around because you don't trust them. In some cases, this will be true. But more often than not, the truth is that you don't trust yourself. You don't believe your plans will succeed unless people do exactly your way, so you start ordering aggressively and controlling intrusively. You don't trust that you've prepared your team enough, so you start micromanaging. You don't trust that your explanation was sufficient, so you start producing more stress by resorting to over-explaining trivial things.

Cultivate a new leadership style

However, cultivating a new leadership style requires a dramatic shift in thinking: your role is not to control other people; it's to control yourself and trust others to follow you. 

Your role is not to inspire; it is to be inspired and trust that others will feel inspired too. When you embrace the energy, you want to see in your team, you become the example others will follow. 

Here are four steps to help you figure out if your management style is bossy

  1. Think of someone. It may be a colleague who irritates you because they often do as they think, not as you tell them;

  2. Identify two or three traits of this person that deeply affect you. Let's say the person is someone with a sharp critical eye, who is always evaluating, even out loud, situations, attitudes and behaviours in the team;

  3. Think of times when you've had similar attitudes in your own relationships. In other words, what are the situations in your life where you judge others very harshly and find many faults? Notice if you have a defensive reaction, thinking, "I'm not a perfectionist, but others are far too harsh in judging me!" If you are bothered by the reproaches of others, it is very likely that they are coming from you because you are also emitting the same critical energy;

  4. Once you've identified where you're overdoing it with perfectionism and blame, monitor these habits and stop if you start doing or saying things that you personally wouldn't accept from someone else. For example, if your father has always been critical of you, you might not be critical of him - but you might be critical of your employees. 

Many people totally separate their personal and professional lives, seeing them as separate spheres, but this is neither fair nor possible in reality. To become a more effective leader, it's important to recognize that leadership is not about a specific situation, but is defined by the emotional energy you know how to use wisely in times of stress. By becoming more balanced, thoughtful, calm and confident in one area of your life, you will often find that these changes will be reflected in other areas.

This article is brought to you by Blankfactor, a global leader in digital innovation for fintechs and payment processors. An American company with a global presence, Blankfactor is building a strong software engineering team in Romania, with offices in Bucharest, Cluj and Brasov and collaborating with top professionals across the country.

Blankfactor - Engineering impact.

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