Commanding Leadership Style

This is an “I tell, you do it” style of leadership. People that use the Commanding Leadership style want to get things done and they want them done quickly. 

There can be a time a need for this style of leadership but it should be used sparingly. Used correctly it is powerful in fixing problems faster than another leadership style would. However, many people overuse this leadership style at the cost of employee engagement

Short term people may turn a blind eye to what you say and do, but in the long term, the commanding leadership style when excessively used will have negative effects on the people you interact with.

Correctly Used:

In a crisis

Dealing with problem people

Under skilled for the task required but highly time sensitive

If absolutely necessary due to external factors such as if in Danger

Start a turnaround

How to Improve Commanding Leadership Style

Social Awareness is key here, you need to get in the habit of reviewing how you handled the situation. Was the reaction to what you said and did what you expected? 

Did the people you interacted with react differently to the way you thought they would? These are tell tale signs you need to adjust how you are approaching the situation. 

Ask lots of questions about how people feel about what you said or did but you cannot be too direct with this if you want the truth you need to make it easy for people to answer your questions honestly.

Social Awareness Example

Direct – Poor Practice – What’s the matter with you?

Indirect – More skillful – I think I came across harder on you than I intended, did I overstep too much?

People often justify their incorrect use of the commanding leadership style by aligning what they want with company goals or other “bigger picture” goals these are then used to excuse yourself from the way you behaved as you only did it because “it is in the best interests of…….” Leaders do this lots, but the reasons people use are often not actually true.

Bad Example 1 –

Situation – A result is below what would be deemed to be acceptable at work

What you say – This is really bad you need to do this right now

How you justify it – This result is really bad and both you and I need this to improve fast, I wouldn’t normally do but this is the only way to do it

Bad Example 2 –

Situation – Child puts drink down by laptop

What you say – Don’t put that there. Take that off the table and don’t do that again.

How you justify it – They could have spilled liquid on the laptop and broke it, I had to say it

In both examples, you can probably see that what we say to justify our behavior isn’t necessarily true. It is easy to see that there are clearly other ways to react in these situations, people just don’t even think to question their own thoughts. Also, notice that the commanding leadership style will nearly always lack the reason “why” the task is being completed and generally people do not like to be communicated to in this way.

Top Tips – Commanding Leadership Style

1. Did the people you interacted with agree or disagree with the way you dealt with the situation?

2. Is what you’re asking someone to do so time sensitive that you do not have time to explain why they need to do it?

3. Take the time to find what you say to yourself to justify your behavior and challenge this

Commanding leadership style can be very useful, but you need to be mindful of possible long term negative effects on the environment when it is used incorrectly with the people you interact with. Much like the Pace Setting leadership style we’re going to cover later in the article, both that style and the Commanding Leadership style can have unintended and undesired side effects that no leader wants.

Commanding Leadership Summary

Daniel Goleman’s 6 Leadership Styles

For more information about the advantages and disadvantages of each of the different leadership styles and to see examples of how each of the leadership styles can be used effectively click through each of the links below.

  1. Commanding Leadership Style
  2. Visionary Leadership Style
  3. Affiliative Leadership Style
  4. Democratic Leadership Style
  5. Pacesetting Leadership Style
  6. Coaching Leadership Style

Which is the best leadership style?

Learn More Leadership and Management Skills

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 Discover how you can use the good performance of others to motivate improvement

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 What you should do when you need to give someone negative feedback and how to do it without it being awkward

 The 3 step feedback checklist. What every communicator should know before deciding to give any feedback

 Find out how to use our powerful phrases that will squash any excuses

 What you need to know before attempting to get new people to perform as well as experienced employees

 Discover how to get stubborn people to change what they are doing, without any confrontation or awkwardness – even when they have been doing the same thing for years