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Why isn’t leadership a form of control?

Control is making using of positional power to enforce rules on others. Control can be exercised by anyone. For example a production manager working in a manufacturing company can enforce rules on the laborers working for daily wages.  The manager can make the laborers work for ten hours per day bringing out more profit to the company. But, as a result the manager ends up gaining the hatred of his subordinates. Ultimately, the workers also will not work for ten hours per day in the managers’ absence.

However, it is not the case if someone gets things done by inspiring people. Suppose the manager exhibits a role model behavior and acts in a friendly manner, all subordinates will start loving him and begin to value his words and deeds (Sparks and Schenk 2001). In this case, the subordinates will focus towards improving productivity even without the insistence of the manager. This is what differentiates between control and transformation al process.

One gains control out of one of the many factors like power, designation or money. However, one is recognized as a leader only when he or she creates an impact in the lives of people. Control comes by power. On the other hand leadership comes by in-built trait and character of an individual (Alix 2000; William and Moshavi, 2005). All leaders can exercise control. However, not everyone exercising control on others can be considered as leaders. Outstanding leaders never worry about control. They exercise their power by giving away the control to their followers. The ultimate objective of an efficient leader would be to improve the performance of others by creating differences in the life of their subordinates.

Efficient leaders show interest in motivating their subordinates to make their own decisions rather than making them follow the decisions taken by them. All they want is to efficiently communicate their vision to their followers and make them understand the vision. They believe that other things will automatically fall in place without exercising any sort of control.

To say in short, leadership is all about influence and not about control.


  • Alix N M (2000), Transformational Leadership, SAGE, London.
  • William B F and Moshavi D (2005), Transformational Leadership, Journal of Organizational behavior, UK.
  • Sparks J R and Schenk J A (2001), Explaining the effects of transformational leadership, Journal of Organizational Behavior, pp 849-869, USA

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