Leadership Style: Commanding


Commanding Leadership - Six Styles of Emotional Leadership

Daniel Goleman’s book, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence discusses the six leadership styles leaders can take to ensure a healthy working environment.

An effective leader has the versatility to implement all six leadership styles in different situations. The leadership styles Goleman outlined in his book are authoritative, democraticaffiliative, pacesetting, commanding, and coaching leader.

In this article, we will focus on the commanding leadership style.

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A good leader can step into any given scenario and create a vision for a better future, deliberate a game plan for realizing that future and implement that plan to see it to fruition. However, great leaders take it a notch further by understanding their strengths and weaknesses and learning to practice the different types of leadership that suit both them and their team to get results and leave behind a legacy that extends beyond their lifetime.

Whereas identifying who holds a managerial role in an organization may not be too difficult, you can find it more challenging to define how that person prefers to lead. Suppose management focuses on details and project execution; leadership is usually a more general macro-level view of the organization. But just as there are many ways to manage an issue, there are also six different emotional leadership styles. This post will focus on the commanding leadership style, explaining the pros and cons of using it in the workplace. 

What Is Commanding Leadership?

The commanding leadership style is all about being in control. Commanding leaders are tough, forceful, and direct. They do not hesitate to make unpopular decisions and will take charge of any situation, even those that involve a lot of uncertainty—their motto is “my way or the highway.” 

Leaders with a commanding leadership style focus on results, particularly the bottom line, and aren’t afraid to do all it takes to achieve their goals. This means that they sometimes roll over people in the process. 

Elements of a Commanding Leadership

A leader must do a few things to establish commanding leadership. Here is an outline of some of them:

Implementation of Boundaries and Firm Rules

Commanding leadership style demands that the leader’s institute firm rules and boundaries. Commanding leaders must establish a sense of control over what their subordinates do and how they undertake their tasks. 

This will help the commanding leader quickly identify when a team member is falling out of line or isn’t meeting the set expectations. Also, the rules and boundaries play a considerable role in clarity, which is one of the positive attributes of commanding leadership. 

Clear Communication of Team Members’ Functions and Job Roles

A commanding leader knows how to effectively get team members to understand what is expected and harness their skills to accomplish organizational goals. 

The commanding leader works with team members to set clear goals and objectives, deadlines, evaluation criteria, and the requisite subtasks for ensuring that key performance indicators (KPIs) are attained.

Highly Capable of Completing Their Tasks

Leaders who practice the commanding leadership style should be highly skilled and experienced in the tasks and projects assigned to their team. Moreover, a commanding leader needs to be conversant with each team member’s competency and strengths and weaknesses. 

The knowledge, experience, and skills of the leader help them to: 

  • Assign tasks to the right team members based on their skill sets and expertise to attain optimum productivity and task fulfillment
  • Understand all that is required for successful completion of various tasks
  • Create realistic deadlines and hold each team member accountable for meeting the deadlines
  • Communicate expectations clearly without coming off as arrogant

Pros and Cons of the Commanding Leadership Style


Here is an outline of some of the advantages of commanding leadership: 

Setting clear rules makes it easier to maintain and adhere to safety regulations 

You’ve probably wondered why the commanding leadership style is prominently used in the military. Well, there is a good reason for this. The precise guidelines and rules offered by this leadership style make it possible to establish a robust framework for maintaining safety standards and meeting the regulatory requirements. Whenever there is a tremendous deviation from regulations, commanding leadership can help set things right. 

Clarity on rules and expectations 

Clarity of communication is one of the notable hallmarks of commanding leadership. Team members are not only aware of what is required from them but also the reward that is provided for completing a task. 

Also, there are known consequences of failing to complete a task within the stipulated time frame. This clarity can enhance the performance of teams that are unable to work well with ambiguous expectations.

The decision-making process is quicker.

Given that commanding leaders are the sole decision-makers, the decision-making process is fast because nobody from the team needs to be consulted. 

Whereas this is great for certain situations, making decisions on your own may not be ideal in many other situations. Decisions can also be quickly executed, given that commanding leaders essentially give orders and their subordinates execute those orders.

Provide structure for inexperienced and unorganized teams

The experience of a commanding leader can help inexperienced teams undertaking low-complexity tasks to get the structure they need. 

The commanding leader outlines the specific duties and tasks that the team members must follow. The commanding leader’s experience is transferred to the individual team members, thereby leading to positive results.


Here is an outline of some of the disadvantages of commanding leadership: 

Collaboration is non-existent

Commanding leadership style doesn’t flourish in a collaborative environment. The leader provides direction, and the team is expected to follow them to the letter. 

Consequences and rewards are used to promote admirable behavior. Organizational goals are given precedence over employee growth, and there is no idea-generating dialogue.

This leadership style only works with experienced leaders

The commanding leadership style heavily depends on the leader’s experience and ability to use that experience to effectively direct the team. As such, this leadership style fails when the leader doesn’t have enough experience and predominantly relies on the expertise of their subordinates to get things done.

Overdependence on the leader

Because of the command control structure, micromanagement, and close follow-up that the leaders might be involved in, there is a likelihood that the leader may be overburdened with work. This can result in the leader becoming a bottleneck rather than an asset in decision-making.

Creativity is stifled

The commanding leadership style mandates that the established rules be followed stringently. This brings about a work environment where creativity is discouraged. 

Whereas employees who wouldn’t like to be burdened with the initiative of being creative may prefer this work environment, millennials who expect their leaders to value their creative input may not be so keen to work in such an environment. 

Commanding leaders can become nasty and autocratic

The absolute power that comes with a commanding leader may become a problem in the long run. It can lead to the leaders creating a toxic organizational environment where they bully their subordinates. 

Ways of Becoming an Effective Commanding Leader

Commanding leadership works best with inexperienced and unskilled teams. That said, this leadership style may backfire when employees are highly skilled and competent. Such employees may resent their commanding leader and find the micromanagement akin to this leadership style being intrusive. 

You must, therefore, first determine whether this type of leadership is suitable for your team before incorporating it into how you lead. Here are some tips for being an effective commanding leader:

Make sure all team members clearly understand their roles

A commanding leader should sit down with each team member and communicate their roles to them and what is expected. They should also clarify any misconceptions and ensure that the resulting consequences and rewards are evident in each team member’s mind. 

Avoid micromanaging 

Even though micromanagement seems akin to commanding leadership, it can be avoided through trust. You need to trust that your team will accomplish the work effectively after you’ve provided them with appropriate guidance. 

Constantly monitoring them in the background not only makes them feel like they aren’t trusted, but it also prevents you from completing high-priority tasks essential to your job.

Be decisive

You must be clear and precise. Provide detailed orders for execution, and never be hesitant and go for unclear or undetailed decisions. Your team needs to feel like you are in charge and will steer them in the right direction.

Be conversant with the task that your team is involved with

Given that the commanding leadership style builds on the experience and competency of the leader, they need to be knowledgeable in the task that their team members work on. Without this knowledge, the leaders may find it hard directing work and providing detailed orders.

The Wrap Up

Whereas the commanding leadership style can be effective in some organizational scenarios, it shouldn’t be the only leadership style used. 

Understanding and employing different forms of emotional leadership styles can help your employees achieve maximum satisfaction while also improving your company’s bottom line. Contact us at Vistatec to learn more about the emotional leadership styles and how we can help your organization.