Leading a 2020 Digital Business – Is Command and Control Dead?

Chris Farrance

Chris Farrance

20 February 2014

I’m just guessing you have a way of doing things in your business and that by and by and large it’s worked out OK.

After all, you’ve survived the recession – well done!

Maybe, though, you’re thinking business could be better but you’re really not sure what you should be doing next.

Where to start?

Well, why not start at the top – with you!

Let’s explore the issue of Leadership – what you do and how you do it.

Quite frankly, there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ out there about the attributes, characteristics and behaviours of successful leaders.  It may well be that the cult of charisma and personality – not to mention being male and significantly over six feet tall – is fading.

Too much of it is ‘rear view’ mirror and captured in self-justifying case studies.

Sadly and too often ‘autocratic’ crops up in many of the conversations I listen to.

In short, this is not the time for being autocratic if you want to build a sustainable 2020 business in today’s Digital Economy.


Command and Control is Dead.

Well, probably not totally…. but almost. If the office is on fire then there’s no time for building a consensus.

Most other times there is.

But quite often what gets in the way is the old fashioned way of thinking which has a lot to do with the way many are businesses are currently run.

Often it’s described as intuitive and it may well be. But it’s based on what’s happened in the past rather than what’s happening now.

Have you had any of these thoughts?

•        If only staff would just do their jobs!

•        I pay people good money to look after Marketing, Sales, HR, IT

•        It’s my Business!

But things are changing – now we have the Digital Revolution – and it’s disappointing but probably not surprising that it’s not entirely clear how to do things better. Sure, there’s Google, Amazon and Apple – but how do their leaders relate to your business – if at all?

The fact is, that the ‘Command and Control’ approach is anathema to today’s ‘Digital Natives’ as they are called – those who understand the value of digital technology and how to use it.

They’re more likely to go online or text a friend – as in ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ – than talk to their managers. They want engagement, equality and regular feedback.

It’s no good just writing this off as a ‘generational issue’ – both sides need to engage and it’s your responsibility to set the tone.

At a recent IOD Breakfast meeting I suggested leadership was like conducting an orchestra – but now I read even this is outdated it’s – think of it more like a jazz band!

Good Luck!

For more on this subject look up my Digital Fellows who specialise in this space:

Rod Willis


Beth Hughes