Old Model of Leadership: Command and Control

When I was an  undergraduate, I remembered being introduced to this real-time strategy game, Command & Conquer: Generals by my younger brother.

Command and Conquer Generals, like most other real-time strategy games, was quite interesting as I recalled fighting against time to set up a base, acquire resources, build various combat and support units, and defeat my opponents. It was literally, commanding your troops to conquer the enemy.

After graduation, I started my military career as a platoon commander in an elite battalion, leading 27 to 29 soldiers, and boy . . . was it different from the game! There was no way I could command my troops and conquer the enemy, with such tactics!

Command and Control

I learned that the term “Command and Conquer” was really about  “Command & Control“.

In fact I call it the C + C model.

As you can see, it is very linear by nature, and a linear relationship means that any results that are produced would increase the same. For example, a linear relationship between production hours and output in a factory means that a 10 percent increase or decrease in hours will result in a 10 percent increase or decrease in the output.

 “Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do & die”

Essentially, this is a very old model of leadership, as the command headquarters (HQ) or management body, dictates a very centralized approach in nearly every situation. The command HQ demands to know the full picture before any action can be taken. An analogy of this, is like how you have to seek permission from your parents every time, before you are allowed to do an activity.

Daddy, can I eat this?”

Mummy, can I go out with Nick?

In a workplace, it may be like this.

Derrick, I want to see the proposal first before you send to the client. Follow whatever instructions that I tasked you earlier during the meeting.”

This would never work in the modern military and definitely not in today’s work industry that is filled with social media tools. This is because the world now faces an increasingly educated generation with information at their fingertips. If you, as the leader, fail to show that you have the area of knowledge and expertise, and rapport to lead your team, they will not follow you even as you shout, “Charge!” in the battle field of work.

You see, the Command & Control leadership model which I consider as an old model of leadership, was mainly about fear. It allowed no room for creativity, personal leadership and risk-taking. it was rigid, and the defined hierarchy that formed the structure acted as a double-edged sword as it created red tape during decision-making.

The Command & Control leadership model is also the basis of most traditional business organisations.

Command + Control Leadership Model

In the above picture,  even though there are teams to handle the respective hot spots (challenges, events, activities), the command HQ is still overseeing every activity. There is no integration in this process.

  • Do you find such a leadership model familiar?
  • Is your organisation behaving in this way?
  • Do you think the command HQ will be overloaded because all the respective teams are just reporting back the hot spots?

In the next post, I will share the New Model of Leadership.

Stay tuned for it . . .


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