Negative Impacts and Unintended Consequences of Command and Control Leadership

I recently discovered a great tool for causal loop modelling of systems, called Kumu. It makes it easy to model issues and start to identify intervention levers for that thing a lot of us want – making the world a better place and having a positive impact.

I decided to start on systems modelling in Kumu with a topic I believe impacts many people – power dynamics in the workplace, and specifically the negative impacts of command and control leadership. As a leadership coach and agile coach, I’m constantly looking for ways to help both individuals and groups tap into their greatest potential and play big.

I work with talented people are are ready to grow. Ready for change. Ready to make a positive impact on the world. I lead a group of transformation coaches, and we work to bring positive change to individual leaders and teams. Uses or abuses of power in the workplace have to do with a core issue I care about, which is rank and power, whether in people’s professional lives or personal lives. I care about this topic because it deeply affects people in many ways, both positive and negative.

What you will see in the map below are some causal loops that reveal sometimes invisible consequences of command and control leadership, especially when it is unconscious. And generally the higher we rise in the ranks, the less conscious we become about the impacts of rank. And the more important it becomes for us to wake up to that. It is naive to try to causally link most issues to one bad leader, but at the same time, a good leader can do a lot of good and a bad leader can do a lot of harm. Leaders are the architects of culture in many ways, and responsibility and ethical imperatives come with leadership in my view.

How to read this map is to start at the center, with the picture of the command and control leader. Then going in the order of the numbered loops, like B1, follow the arrows. For a “+” sign, say, “adds to,” or “goes up / same direction,” and for a “-” sign, say “subtracts from” or “goes down / opposite direction.”

“B” means a balancing loop, and R means a reinforcing loop. A balancing loop is a goal-seeking pattern. It keeps rebalancing itself. A reinforcing loop indicates a pattern where something keeps getting bigger, like unmitigated growth, or where something keeps getting smaller, or shrinking without another variable to redirect or stop it. So here’s the map, and once I learn Kumu better, I’ll add a video with me narrating to make it more clear.


neg impacts command control leadership

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