There is a lot of debate about the "command-and-control" style of leadership in the region. The theorists and textbooks claim outright that it is a debilitating style, but it continues to be the approach most widely used here.
It is unfortunate that feararising from a lack of self-confidence can cause a person to be domineering in order to appear to be in control. I feel for the leaders who are fearful because of their uncertainty about their ability.
When front-line managers are promoted without formal training or development, they naturally mimic the example of other leaders. This can be a good or bad idea depending on the ability of the leader being copied.
If a rising leader is part of the fortunate few who have worked for great leaders, there is hope in relying on the predecessor as an example. But since most are not so fortunate as to have worked under great managers, leadership mimicry is risky and usually results in perpetuating the command-and-control approach, even if the new leader previously despised this style of management.
Questionable or underdeveloped leadership capability also points leaders towards the command-and-control style. This style comes most naturally, which is understandable, as it is rooted in a primitive impulse to exert authority.
If a person has not been developed or trained to be a great leader, we really cannot fault him or her for having fear, copying other leaders and lacking refined leadership capability. It is like expecting a teenager who has never driven to navigate the rush-hour traffic between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The other major reason that leaders practise the command-and-control style is related to the existing organisational culture. If the prevailing leadership style is command and control, it is natural that the rising leaders in the organisation will adopt this style.
Maybe we should have started by asking: "Should this leadership style be used?"
This is where I am going to differ from the popular view. I think we can make a case for an authoritative approach to leading. You may be shocked to hear a leadership expert make such a statement. But let me defend the proposition.
Ever heard of Steve Jobs? Of course you have. This is a man being described by some as the "CEO of the Century". While building a great company, he was one of the most dictatorial leaders of corporate America.
Throughout his career he was known as a tough leader whose style bordered on being coercive. I am not proposing that leaders coerce or abuse. There is never an excuse to be abusive. But when practised correctly, command and control can result in stellar organisational performance.
Across the region, the question remains: is command and control being practised as a passive excuse for leading or with the conscientiousness of a patriarch?
(Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, author of The CEO Shift and the managing director of the Emerging Market Leadership Center)