Away with the ‘chain-of-command’?


Usually a person before being appointed or elected to be a leader will be seen as their ‘good speaker’.

Talking or discussing will definitely not flow, but it will turn into a ‘printing machine’ after changing positions.

Prudent communication can probably be a lesson, and how not to communicate as a manager.

A story in 2018, via an email addressed to his staff that was eventually leaked to the public, Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent an important “warning” to his managerial staff. The warning?

Communication should go through the shortest path necessary to complete a task, not through a “chain of command.”

Any manager who tries to enforce or force a chain of communication command will soon find them working elsewhere.

Musk is particularly concerned with what so many companies face today, poor communication that slows things down and makes things innovative.

For Musk, information must move in all directions, between all levels, regardless of your rank or position.

According to Musk, if something needs to be communicated in a way that will increase efficiency and productivity, it should travel the shortest distance.

He also added in his email to his employees that “If, to resolve something between departments, individual contributors should talk to their manager, who then talks to the director, who then talks to the Vice President, who then talks to another Vice President, who talk to the director, talk to the manager, talk to someone who does the real work, then very stupid things are going to happen. Surely anyone can talk directly and make the right things happen. ”

So, what’s the starting point for making sure this happens throughout your organization?

Freedom and autonomy

Autonomy is one of the fundamental elements of what drives human beings intrinsically, leading to better performance.

Knowledgeable employees must have the right data, insights, and tools to make high -quality and fast decisions on their own that benefit the team.

This requires trust from the leadership by placing power in the hands of their employees.

That’s why, even in the most competency -oriented organizations, leaders need to give freedom and autonomy to the team in a quiet time, to do what they do best.

They need to practice innovating and coordinating without interference from management.

The strength in a good leader comes from the encouragement of authority to make others make their own decisions.

Good leaders understand that they don’t have all the answers and that everyone has something to contribute.

This is a shift from the “command-and-control” communication pattern, “the chain of command” Musk mentioned earlier, where leaders and managers loosen control until the individual contributors closest to the action are given the opportunity to act on their own.


Azizi Ahmad is a former educator who has gone through a ‘chain of instructions’ that has no dots.