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Will graduates flourish in a traditional command and control leadership culture? Employing and developing graduates is important in many ways to any organization. They bring new ideas, new skills, learn quickly, are not too costly and after time, they will be the persons to succeed your (top) management. However, how can you make sure that such a bright promising future becomes reality?  How can you engage your graduates in such a manner that they stay?

Many organizations still have a strong command and control approach to leadership. The HR department and even other managers may preach that the way forward is to create a culture of coaching, leading and engaging people, the opposite from “managing” people, but the harsh reality is that the truly demonstrated culture by most managers is mainly command and control. Managers know best, they tell people what to do and how to do it and make all important decisions themselves. Command and control can easily block creativity, prevent new ideas from being explored and, in reality, limits engagement and commitment of people.

If we look at some of the key reasons for people to leave their jobs:

  • not being treated with respect
  • not being able to have an impact on the organization
  • not being listened to
  • not getting more responsibility

the command and control culture is doing exactly that.

Starting graduates in such a culture may do two things; they leave or they stay.

The ones that leave will go and look for a new position in a culture in which they feel respected, listened to and get the responsibility to make decisions which can include the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. They will develop into the managers of the future who will give new graduates the same opportunities and responsibilities as they experienced themselves, and they will form the foundation of great organizations with great performances.

The ones that stay will develop into a new generation of command and control managers as they follow the example they have been given over all the years they had to wait to get into a top management position. They will develop into the managers who know better and they will tell new graduates how to do things and tell them that they will have to wait patiently to get into a position of more responsibility and power.

Both is not good for the organization: the ones looking to leave are a valuable resource loss and the ones who stay simply copy the behavior the organization was trying to change.

Therefore, in my view; every organization – except the military – should try to change from a command and control dominated leadership culture into a true coaching, collaborative, supportive, co-creating and engaging culture. Over time, this will not only retain new talent but also guarantee success!

Our Graduate Recruitment and Development Forum 2016 will give those responsible for hiring and developing graduates a chance to uncover both strategic and practical elements of implementing a successful and innovative graduate programme.



Lisa graduated with an Honours Degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Aston University in 1983 and has been actively involved in Health and Safety across a broad range of areas ever since.

Lisa is a consultant and past president of IOSH, and has particular interests in audits, stress management, behavioural safety and training.

Within the University she has designed, developed and implemented a standard university health & safety management system audit program, introduced a refreshed approach to stress management supported by a ‘Be Your Best’ programme of activities and events and delivered a wide range of Health & Safety training courses.

Her professional interests away from the University include being a current Member of the Risk Management and Audit Committee and a past President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

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