Points of Interest

Command And Control Work Cultures Are Problematic In Business

by Hutt Bush

One of my longtime clients changed jobs recently where she is confronted with a new boss who is autocratic, aloof, and completely focused on being the boss no matter what. There’s no room for intelligent conversation to discuss the merits of situations – just, “I am the boss and that’s the way it is.” Sadly, those decisions are often not well-reasoned, and they seem capricious and even aggressive.

This kind of command and control attitude creates huge and unnecessary suffering in organizations – and, frankly, in relationships of any kind. Work, by definition, is collaborative. Even if you work for yourself – by yourself – you are interfacing with people who buy what you produce or make.

Command and control cultures emulate the military model where decisions are made by seniors officers, and those in the lower ranks are given their orders. Given that we live in a democracy outside of work, there is inherent conflict within organizations that are more command and control than collaborative. Younger generations of employees, especially, find working in command and control environments difficult.

How would you rate your work environment / culture? Is it command and control, collaborative, or a hybrid of the two? Do you have any idea why it is the way it is – that is, what models were followed in creating it? What do you think of command and control? Do you have personal experience with it?

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posted in: Command and Control Cultures

2 thoughts on “Command And Control Work Cultures Are Problematic In Business

  1. This couldn’t be a more timely topic. The paradigm is definitely shifting from a top down, vertical hierarchy to a person to person, horizontal structure. In no small part this is because the nature of interactivity and the Internet is a peer to peer structure that deliberately bypasses the logjams (and potential vulnerabilities) of centralized authority in favor of a leaner, more organic and creative environment in which information and ideas flow freely.

    Certainly it makes sense for there to be a guiding mission, a vision and a coherence to an organization. At the same time, the best way to enlist the full participation of all concerned, in this case employees, is to foster an environment of co-creation and ownership. (For example, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, and Costco.) Indigenous cultures do this with the circle as a structural tool, with each person having a voice and the engaged respect of their peers.

    Indeed, there is a spiritual and ethical component that can not be overlooked. When organizations are built upon fear, dominance and exploitation, they will only achieve a portion of their potential results. When they are attuned to the greater good, mutual respect and the fulfillment of each team member’s highest potential, the love and loyalty that this generates will literally move mountains and spread throughout the company culture and beyond. You can not buy that kind of branding. You can only inspire it through right action.

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