Leaders vs. commanders which do you prefer working with? You hate having someone stand over your shoulder because you find it smothering, even claustrophobic. You want to scream, “Let me do my job and quit micro-managing me!” But… it’s your boss, the manager. “Don’t they know they get in my way and slow me down?” You’re seriously considering taking another job, even though it’s less pay and not the work you love to do.

Second scenario: You love your job. The work is good, and the management team is even better. They’re less like bosses and more like friends or family. Your immediate supervisor is a leader. They listen, lead by example, have your back, and share a vision for you and the company. The problem is you’ve been offered a higher level (and higher paying) position at a competitor. Your decision? “I’m going to wait. It will happen here when I’m ready; in the meantime, I can keep learning.”

Leaders vs Commanders

The difference leadership makes in the workplace is amazing. Take two identical organizations with the same pay, benefits, work, and product — give one an open-minded leadership team and the other commanding managers, and the difference is night and day. Which management retains employees and helps them reach their potential?

Characteristics of Leaders

  • Listening attentively

Leaders listen with an open mind, offering advice, and using employee suggestions whenever possible. They listen to understand, not to respond.

  • Leading by example

This doesn’t mean leaders do their employees’ jobs. It’s about how they go about any job, how they treat others, and their business ethics.

  • Putting others above themselves

To lead is to serve. Leaders seldom point fingers or attach blame to individuals. They look for answers. Leaders understand failure is a path to success.

  • Sharing a vision, giving direction, and setting goals

Part of what makes any leader attractive is their ability to steer the course and their confidence to pull the team along with them.

  • Being honest and consistent

They don’t always treat people equally, but they always treat people equitably. They may change plans or adjust a goal but always maintain the same core values.

Characteristics of Commanders

  • Micro-managing

They’re afraid to delegate tasks for fear tasks won’t be done to their standards. Training someone to take delegation is hard, but hard work pays off.

  • Attempting to bully people

Commanders bully people with threats and fear. This may work occasionally, but in the long run, it’s counterproductive.

  • Not listening

It’s my way or the highway. They expect direct reports to blindly follow orders, stifling creativity.

  • Doing as I say, not as I do

They expect others to follow their rules of order but place themselves above them because they’ve “earned” it.

  • They expect everyone to be motivated by the same things

Employees who don’t think like the commander probably won’t get what they need to be stimulated at work.

Is someone commanding you at work and just giving orders, or are they leading by giving you direction? Which boss do you have? Or is your leadership team a combination? Do you work WITH someone or FOR them?

A Few Thoughts on Leaders Vs. Commanders

I want to leave you with the thoughts of a few friends about leadership. A few years ago, I crowd-sourced the following question on my Facebook page. “From your experience, what characteristics and activities make for good, effective leadership?” I don’t think much has changed regarding effective leadership, do you?

Listening skills.—Amy Stark

listening, compassion, and being fair. —Mary Warrick

Organization vs. the pretension of organization.—Jarred Juett

Good effective leadership — understand who you’re leading, personality traits, communication styles, etc. Ineffective – reacting vs. being proactive. —Joe Noorthoek

The desire and ability to lead through service.—Don Kincaid

Constant ego checks. Never let yourself work against others.—Timmy Greenlee

What would you add?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.