Beyond Command and Control: Leadership, Culture and Risk (Paperback) book cover

Beyond Command and Control

Leadership, Culture and Risk

By Richard Adams, Christine Owen, Cameron Scott, David Phillip Parsons

© 2017 – CRC Press

93 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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This book will advance the understanding of leadership beyond the inherited myths and modalities of command and control. Leadership is separated from ideas and institutional seniority and explained as the collaborative power of one with others. Enabling the intelligent co-participation of all people, the constructive effect of this approach to leadership is in the engagement of people. This is significant when task accomplishment depends not on managerial direction, but on the interaction of people with each other, with technical systems, and with complex regulations which are often across jurisdictional boundaries. Examples and case studies are included.


"Beyond Command and Control: Leadership, Culture and Risk challenges the myths and cultural influences (both societal and organizational) surrounding modern day leadership and encourages the reader to broaden their thought processes to include the idea that leadership is not simply a position, it is a privilege – and that when people are trusted to lead, they bear an obligation to lead well.

Leadership can only occur if there are followers. This book tackles the idea that leadership is mainly about effective human interaction and an ability to exercise constructive influence, and that the idea that leading well is informed by the concept of power with, not by power over - a concept that still appears to be quite foreign to many people, hence, the distinct lack of inspirational leaders in our society.

Too many times in history, have we seen just the nominated leader take the fall when things have gone wrong. This book explores the idea that responsibility is not just placed on one person, that it is ‘infinitely wide’. That the major responsibility that is born by one person – the leader – does not dissolve the responsibility of others. This complements the collaborative approach to leadership that is a strong theme throughout the book that, as a team, you all play a part as you work towards achieving your goals and that you all bear a level of responsibility in ensuring that a successful, and safe, outcome is achieved."

Jocelyn Parsons, Global Maritime Emergency Response Company, Australia

"The book covers a range of topics relevant to modern leadership. The distinction between leadership and management is important as there is a tendency to conflate the two concepts.

By emphasizing that power relationships are inherent within the practice of leadership, the book provides a powerful case for recognizing that effective leadership must be underpinned by ethics and personal responsibility. These are personally challenging but important issues for leaders at all levels.

The book, while having its roots in crisis management, provides lessons that are instructive for industries and organizations of all types. This is a book I would have on my shelf and intend to draw upon it in my research into organizational coordination in crisis management."

Jamie Storrie, Australian National University, Australia

Table of Contents



  1. Introduction
    1. The Primary Purpose of This Book
      1. Audience
      2. Contesting the Myths of Leadership
      3. Critical Ideas: Leadership and Command and Control

    2. The Important Contribution of This Book
    3. Structure of the Book
    4. Conclusion

  2. Unconstructive Power
    1. Introduction
    2. The Failure of Inherited Ideas of Leadership
    3. Leadership Is Not a Position
    4. Leadership and Risk
    5. Command and Control Is Important
    6. Collaborative Culture
    7. Conclusion

  3. Power and Partnership
    1. Introduction
    2. Leadership Is a Cultural Idea
    3. Power With
    4. Soft Power
    5. Loyalty and Obedience
    6. Responsibility
    7. Conclusion

  4. Leadership and Communicating
    1. Introduction
    2. Be Plain
    3. Challenges to Effective Communication
    4. Effective Communication
    5. Communication between Different Agencies
    6. Effectiveness, Efficiency and Psychological Safety

  5. Leadership and Situation Awareness
    1. Introduction
    2. Situation Awareness
    3. Generating Situation Awareness
    4. Leading and Cooperating
    5. Situation Awareness: In a Nutshell
      1. Five Ways to Improve Situation Awareness

    6. An Important Caveat

  6. Leadership and Decision Making
    1. Introduction
    2. Elements of Decision Making
    3. Decision Theory
    4. The Collaborative Approach
    5. Collaborative Leadership and Decision Making under Stress
    6. Lessons Learned: Training for Good Decisions

  7. Error Management
    1. Introduction
    2. Terms: Error and Violation
    3. Errors Are Consequences
    4. Four Broad Error Types
    5. Error in the Technical and Automated Environment
    6. Human Factors Underpinning Error
    7. Error and Collaborative Leadership
    8. A Just Organisation: Non-Jeopardy Reporting
    9. Conclusion

  8. Leadership and Obligation
    1. Introduction
    2. Leadership: Power and Failure
    3. The Official Reports
    4. Blind Eyes
    5. Misleadership
    6. Conclusions

  9. Conclusion
    1. The Contribution of This Book
    2. Beyond Command and Control
    3. Collaborative Culture
    4. Power With
    5. The Leaders Who Do Best
    6. Command-and-Control Structures
    7. Compelling, Not Coercive



About the Authors

Richard Adams is an Australian Fulbright Scholar to Yale University, he holds doctoral, masters, and first class degrees from the University of Western Australia, and a master’s degree from the University of New South Wales. His professional interests and experience lie in ideas of public responsibility, and in the inter-relationship of leadership, organisational culture, and risk. He is a researcher at University College, the University of New South Wales.

Christine Owen is a senior researcher investigating communication, coordination and collaborative practices in safety critical and high consequence environments. She has conducted research in aviation, emergency medicine and emergency management domains. She has a particular interest in theories of working life and how developmental work environments may be enabled. She is currently engaged in research and teaching in the emergency management sector in Australia.

Cameron Scott is the Network Emergency Management Lead at the National Broadband Network (NBN), responsible for coordinating the response to any network disruption as well as the development of emergency management capability, including planning, training and exercising. Cameron has had emergency management roles in the State and Federal government, including the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources in Victoria and the Australian Emergency Management Institute within Emergency Management Australia. Cameron served as a sworn officer with the Western Australia Police for over 13 years, working in the emergency management and counter terrorism sections, with responsibility for emergency planning, capability development and emergency response.

David Parsons is a Senior Mine Safety Officer (Emergency Management Specialist) with the NSW Dept of Industry. He is a fellow of the Emergency Management Academy New York, the Global Business Continuity Institute and the Australian Institute of Emergency Services. He has had an extensive career in the areas of emergency management, business continuity and crisis management. Specialty areas of interest include neuro-science of decision making and leadership and organisational resilience.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Industrial Health & Safety