Today, I’ve had a quick discussion over the internet with a close friend of mine regarding the most suitable type of leadership for a business startup. I mentioned that I’m a strong believer of non-military style leadership whereas he believes that being harsh and stern at times are necessary.

True, and also false. To me, I’ll always try my best not to be harsh to the people I’m working with, or the people working under me. Believe it or not, nobody wants to be treated harshly by his or her superior. For example, your boss told you that if you fail to deliver a project component by today, your annual bonus will be deducted by 50%. That’s harsh. Or maybe you have an important appointment today which you can’t afford to miss. So you started to pack at 6pm after you’ve finished your work…and then your worst nightmare started. Your boss came to stop you and told you to finish this presentation by today…immediately. Why? Because he needs it for tomorrow. Sounds familiar? That’s harsh too…especially if you told your boss you couldn’t make it since you have an important appointment…and your boss started to feel angry and even threatened to cut your bonus.

Don’t you think the above examples are like a soldier in a camp who made a small mistake and ended up getting punished severely?

True, this kind of mentality is good to train the employees to be disciplined. However, do you seriously think this kind of method can be used in this era where it’s extremely difficult to retain good employees in your company for more than few years?

Your company’s top management is not that harsh? Fine. There’s also place we can check if your company is being run by a “military styled” leader.

In some companies, there are people who behave like a military commander. A stern, serious, decisive and commanding figure reflects the characteristics of a commander-like leader. He likes to give orders and expects nothing but excellent results from his subordinates. He controls, strategize and lead the entire company by himself….much like a military commander leading the entire battalion of soldiers by himself.

So, what’s so bad about this form of leadership? One thing for sure, a normal commander-like leader is a very good tactician who knows how to plan far into the future. However, the company he is leading will most probably last as long as he does. By giving orders (only) and expecting nothing but result, he is not encouraging the participation of other employees in the decision making process. This will only create the so-called “followers” and not “leaders” which the company needs the most.

What happens if this commander-like leader suddenly disappear one day? How will these “followers” proceed without him? Just think of the battlefield…….a military general was leading the entire battalion to war when he was killed by a sniper in an ambush laid by the enemy soldiers. With their commander dead, who will these “followers” turn to? If after all this while, the orders have been coming from the commander and him alone…..there is a high possibility that there’s no 2nd leader who knows what to do. The consequence? The battalion got dispersed ….or slaughtered…since they didn’t know what to do.

It applies to every company out there. It’s the same concept. No matter how good a tactician, it’s useless when the tactician is gone and nobody is there to carry out the plan.

You might disagree with me, like my friend did….. If that’s the case, do feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks for your time and hope it helps. 🙂