Barbarossa developer notes #1: What is Command?

Prior to release of our new game BARBAROSSA we are publishing a series of developer notes by designer Cameron Harris. Part 1 follows below, more parts will be posted in the coming days.

The Last Commander I Met Was Made By Mattel

– Defining Command

Before going any further it’s worth discussing what is meant by Command. How does it differ from Leadership and Management?

A Manager is a title given to you. It’s a position within a hierarchy. A Leader, on the other hand, is a title that other people bestow upon you.

Command could be defined as the exercise of authority over military forces. A Commander is a mix of both a Manager and, hopefully, a Leader.

Your rank, akin to that of a Manager, is something that is given to you. In a military context your rank alone provides a proportional measure of authority. People will do as you ask, because of your position, as to do otherwise would incur adverse consequences.

This is no different to being a Line Manager in an Company making widgets. People below you will do as you ask because you are their boss. Ignoring you risks them being fired.

Leadership is what makes the difference between an ordinary, run of the mill, Manager and an effective one. People are hard wired to go the extra mile for somebody they respect rather than a person merely going through the motions because they’re either not interested or they’ve been promoted above their level of competence. They aren’t a Leader.

A Military Commander has an advantage over a Line Manager in that the hierarchy he is operating within is a more strictly defined one and his subordinates have a greater likelihood of obeying his orders.

But without the skills of Leadership he will still run into the same resistance and push back that a ‘by the rules’ Line Manager would. His subordinates will find ways to subvert his orders just as much as the group of team leaders on the factory floor will be creative in ignoring the demands of their Line Manager boss.

Effective Command therefore infers Leadership.


A no nonsense definition of Leadership would be the art of getting people to do what you ask, willingly. A Leader brings people with him. Leaders have followers.

But enough of these Management Consultant cliches. There is a war on, you say. It’s different to the world of business or bureaucracy. Resources are limited. The raw material of decisions isn’t money, it’s people’s lives. You are playing for bigger stakes.

There isn’t the luxury of being able to sit down, form a committee and argue over a dot point list of future actionable items. Time is critical. Something needs to happen. NOW.

You would be correct. There are unique aspects to Military Command that aren’t found elsewhere. But Command, for all it’s differences, still involves people.

People require Leadership.


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