Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Alexandra Levit. In it she discusses why command and control management has outlived it's usefulness - and how to fix the leadership skills gap left in its wake.

As a business and workplace expert, I'm often asked about common leadership styles. I usually share that command-and-control, otherwise known as “what the boss says goes” is based on concentrating power over people and processes in a single person or group and is still the norm in most contemporary organizations.

The command-and-control style has its roots in the industrial revolution and is mainly based on two movements: Frederic W. Taylor's scientific management and Max Weber's bureaucratic management. Taylor's and Weber's everlasting pursuit for efficiency forced many organizations to squeeze out the most with the least amount of energy, time and money.

The command-and-control style can be a bit rigid. It often assumes that leaders always know best, that they must set a long-term strategy, and that no one must deviate from the plan thereafter. Cooperation may be forced, resistance silenced. If external conditions change or command-and-control leaders encounter obstacles, they cope with them expeditiously, with the goal of sticking as closely as possible to the original strategy.

You may have already guessed why command-and-control is not working for some organizations. My view is that it limits engagement and conversation and discourages autonomy and agility. It's also better suited to a stable environment, which the mid-21st century business world is often not.

The most effective workplace cultures connect individual goals to the organization's larger purpose, incenting employees to buy-in and commit to the vision versus communicating that they have no other choice.  A related style is transformational leadership, in which leaders encourage, inspire and motivate employees to innovate and create change that will help grow and shape the future success of the company.

The best transformational leaders, however, are often not born that way. Rather, they may need to learn the attitudes and behaviors that make this style effective. I believe there is a skills gap in leadership today because young managers are promoted at a faster pace, and to keep their heads above water, may be likely to default to the command-and-control style. Based on my work with dozens of organizations, I suggest closing the gap by advocating these four transformational leadership best practices.

Seek Alternate Viewpoints

It's a mistake for leaders to believe that the majority perspective mirrors theirs, even if a certain point of view seems obvious. For example, it's tempting to think that everyone would naturally support a certain initiative, but without polling and/or focus groups with groups in all functions and roles across the organization, a leader can't be sure of anything. Even if a company is in high-growth mode and is under pressure to act, it's recommended that leaders do their due diligence before pulling the trigger.

Persuade with Passion

It's helpful to build a bulletproof business case full of rational and objective arguments for a new strategy, but leaders shouldn't forget passion and story. Unless people can feel the problem a leader is trying to solve, they may not be motivated to help. There's a happy medium here, though. Leaders can create a sense of urgency without coming across as over the top. They can also communicate extensively, and solicit and take into account feedback without getting mired in dissenting opinions.

Learn to Negotiate

A leader's strategies may include specific rollout plans and timelines, but they can also incorporate wiggle room for managers and employees to customize their implementations and put their unique signatures on the effort. Acting like a dictator and micromanaging everything is not likely to endear a leader - or their initiatives - to the organization.

Consider a Measured Approach

If employees hear about things from outside the organization, it can undermine a leader's influence. Especially in a large or publicly traded organization, details may either be purposefully shared or accidentally leaked to external stakeholders such as analysts and journalists. Leaders may wish to emphasize discretion and confidentiality to start off on the right foot with a new initiative. They can also bolster excitement and commitment by continuously rewarding the accomplishment of shorter-term goals and accepting that the original plan may need to be adjusted.

If you'd like to read more about what these principles look like in practice, check out WorkInspired, by our own Aron Ain. Treating people with respect and leading with the belief that they have something to contribute gives them a reason to stay.


Today's post comes to us from board member Raciel Sosa and is based on an article he originally published in Forbes Mexico. Here he talks about why adopting an adaptive leadership model is critical to accomplishing your strategic goals. You can find the Spanish version of this article here.

Leaders undoubtedly develop leadership styles that tend to be particular and unique. Each one adopts the leadership style that makes sense to them. If a leader is working with an employee who is capable of executing a requested task and has the necessary competencies to do it, the leadership style can be based on trust. If, on the contrary, the employee is still developing the skills to understand what needs to be achieved and how to do it, then the style of leadership has to be more directive, and oriented to provide more clear and precise instructions.

An adaptive leader:

The capability to foster teamwork and collaboration has a direct influence on the relationships between team members and, as a consequence, on the company's organizational climate.

The positive effects on employees when they are led by an adaptive leader are many but primarily, I would mention two:

  1. Decreased frequency of mistakes. When the leader manages their team appropriately, the mistakes that they can make are reduced by definition.
  2. The relationship between the leaders and their collaborators improves.

It is worth mentioning that a company's results are directly related to the strategic decisions of their leaders. Meaning that, for a company to be successful, the decisions made by the management team have to be correct. Not only must the decisions be correct, they then must be carefully executed.  

Adaptive leadership is an important competency for leaders at all levels of an organization.

Today's post is submitted by Joyce Maroney, Executive Director of the Workforce Institute.

Our CEO, Aron Ain, always says that every employee deserves a great manager.  Today's discussion is about how Kronos has made measurable progress on that promise. Lots of organizations invest lots of money in management training. According to the 2018 Training Industry Report published by Training Magazine, US respondents indicated they'd spend 34% of their training budgets on management and executive employees. With a total training spend of $87.6 billion, that's a lot of investment. Are organizations seeing manager effectiveness increasing as a result of that spend?

The Training Magazine report doesn't include this insight, however the 2018 State of Leadership Development Report from Harvard Business Publishing sheds some light. In it, while 66% of learning and development professionals rate their programs as best-in-class or excellent, only 45% of their line of business peers agree. And 25% of respondents in this survey say there is "no proven ROI" associated with leadership development training.

I recently interviewed Kronos Chief People Officer, Dave Almeda and Kronos Vice President of Global Talent Management, Kim Nugent to discuss how Kronos has implemented - and measured - programs to ensure that every Kronite has a great manager. While we focus a lot in this conversation about how manager effectiveness is developed and measured, we also talk about the importance of ensuring that leadership development is explicitly aligned with the strategic goals of the organization.

In our conversation, we address the following questions and issues:

You can listen in on my podcast conversation with Dave and Kim by clicking on the player below.

Additional Resources that explain the Kronos culture and the Manager Effectiveness Program:

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