Who is this article for? Heads of families, managers and business leaders, community leaders of all kinds and anyone is a position to give orders to another person.
There are plenty of ways to soften orders. You can use the world, please. You can offer instructions, presuming the order. You can take a friendly tone. You can frame the order as a question: Will you please do X for me?
But the bottom line is this: I tell you what to do. You do it. If you don’t do as I say, there will be consequences to suffer.
Is there anything wrong with this? No. In fact, families, businesses, communities and nations could not function without order-giving and consequences for disobedience.
If you’re in a position to give orders and it makes you uncomfortable, then the following might be helpful.
We’ll cover why orders must be given for everyone’s good, as well as the common mistakes order-givers make.
Children need orders in order to survive and to become socialized. Even parents who strive to raise children in an open-minded, egalitarian manner must give orders. These conscientious parents will simply not allow their toddlers to play in a busy street. Their unsuspecting kids need that direction in order to survive.
At every stage of development, children simply do not know what they don’t know. In many cases, they don’t have enough experience to comprehend why they must do what they must do. What kind of parent withholds the direction kids need?
Children have a natural tendency to search for boundaries. They do this by testing what they can get away with. If you’re not clearly in charge, they may test their way into trouble. Of course, giving clear orders is only one way to maintain boundaries and keep kids safe, but it’s an important one.
To the degree you give orders and see that those orders are followed, you are a leader. If you can’t give orders with authority, you are not a leader. People around you, regardless of your title, know whether or not you are a leader.
Do you have trouble telling your employees what to do? Consider this: They need you to do just that. When you hold back your authority, you are failing them. This puts them in a position where they must guess what to do.
Not only do they need you to give orders, they probably want you to. They don’t want to guess. A good employee wants to know exactly how to please you. This is a key to job security and satisfaction.
When you give orders, of course you could go about it in the wrong way.
Here are five common mistakes leaders in all contexts make when giving orders.
Some insecure leaders compensate for their fear of power by overdoing it. They’re mean. They throw their weight around as if they are daring you to challenge them. This is because they harbor fears of being challenged.
Others are a bit too consumed with their authority and feel the need to watch over your shoulder at every turn. These types of leaders over-estimate their own worth or are afraid of trusting others.
3. Caving in
Show a little resistance to some leaders and they’ll cave in. If what they ask is inconvenient, they’ll let you off the hook. If you’re upset in any way, you’re off the hook! These kinds of leaders are indulgent because they want you to approve of them.
4. Rigid behavior
On the other end of the spectrum, some leaders will never cave no matter what, even if they make a bad call. Another sign of insecurity, these leaders don’t want to be seen as weak. So, they feel they must defend every order as if it came from God.
5. Self-centered behavior
A good leader understands that people are people and not objects to use for his or her purposes. Some leaders are so caught up in their own agenda that subordinates’ needs are lost to them. These kinds of leaders have a very hard time inspiring loyalty.
Giving and receiving orders is necessary for any group of people to thrive. If you are the order-giver, then it’s your job to do it well. Everyone is counting on that.