Unity of Command vs Unity of Direction: Difference and Comparison

A leader is required in every field so he can guide the team on the right path toward goals. There are various methods to apply when planning to achieve certain things.

Sometimes it’s the leader, or sometimes it is those small groups that are necessary to win a competition. Unity of Command and Unity of Direction are two such methods that help in these situations.

Key Takeaways

  1. Unity of Command is a principle that states that each employee should receive orders from only one supervisor, while Unity of Direction is a principle that states that all employees should work towards a common goal.
  2. Unity of Command helps to maintain a clear chain of command and avoid confusion, while Unity of Direction ensures that everyone in the organization is working towards a common objective.
  3. Unity of Command is more relevant in hierarchical organizations, while Unity of Direction is more relevant in organizations with decentralized decision-making.

Unity of Command vs Unity of Direction

Unity of Command principle states that each employee should receive orders from one superior only to prevent confusion and conflicts. Unity of Direction, however, suggests that all units of an organization should be moving together towards the same objectives under one coordinated strategy.

Unity of Command vs Unity of Direction

By unity of Command, one can understand that it is a command from one commander of the force and that each soldier is required to obey the command.

It is sanctioned in situations of war. In such circumstances, the commander is liable to lead the force to a unified purpose.

When there are various groups of activities, then Unity of Direction suggests all groups work together in the same direction to achieve the goal.

Unity of direction is known to be goal-oriented. In the unity of direction, the process of completing the target is more important than any other aspect.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonUnity of CommandUnity of Direction
MeaningThe meaning of Unity of Command is that all small groups are ordered from one boss or commander. The meaning of Unity of Direction is that all the small groups should be directed in the same direction.
FocusUnity of Command focuses on each employee binding to the one head to lead them. Unity of Direction focuses on the entire organization because it states that every unit should follow similar goals.
UsageThe mechanism of Unity of Command is used to put a stop to dual subordination. The mechanism of Unity of Direction is used to put a stop to overlaps of various activities.
Required forUnity of Command is required for each person to teach them the value of responsibility they are liable to. Unity of Direction is required for each unit to inspire them to work together to reach the destination.
ConnectionUnity of Command is there to describe the relationship between the supervisor and subordinates. Unity of Direction is there to describe the relationship between each unit of the organization.

What is Unity of Command?

Unity of Command is when the whole force or team must follow one leader or commander. Depending on the requirement, Unity of Command can take multiple forms.

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In the context of war, Unity of Command means that all orders come from a single commander for the soldiers.

The term ‘one mission, one boss’ is well known when it comes to describing Unity of Command. Since there is one objective for the Battalion to serve, a superficial person is needed to understand the scenario and then give relative orders.

In the context of business, Unity of Command is very beneficial.

For example, it would be very difficult for the employee to answer or report to multiple supervisors. In this case, Unity of Command is used as the business management theory when such issues are resolved.

Unity of Command has a vital role to play in management theories. With the help of Unity of Command, an authority can channel its employees in a more motivated and convenient way.

The principle of Unity of Command shows that there should not be a bunch of supervisors for a single team. Also, Unity of Command is part of the fourteenth significant principle of running a business.

What is Unity of Direction?

The organization is a big structure of smaller groups, and Unity of Direction works to bind them. Unity of direction suggests that each unit of the organization should flow in the same direction with a common objective.

Also, these groups or units must be directed towards the aim of one person or manager.

The planning should be similar for every group to achieve the goal in less time. To understand it better, take an example where company ‘x’ manufactures laptops and mobile phones.

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Hence, it is divided into two divisions. Now each division has its separate market, problems, users, etc. In other words, each division has a different target to accomplish.

So company ‘x’ is divided into small groups, but the company’s objective remains the same: to make a profit by selling its products.

So there should be one plan for these units to follow and one director or head to lead them. This process is designated as Unity of Direction.

Anyone can be easily mistaken between the terms Unity of Command and Unity of Direction, but there is a difference. Unity of direction generates power from small groups to push the large portion forward.

Main Differences Between Unity of Command and Unity of Direction

  1. The Unity of Command improves the functionality of the subordinates, while the Unity of Direction promotes the concept of coordination of small units.
  2. The Unity of Command leaves an impact on individuals. On the other hand, Unity of Command leaves an impact on the organization.
  3. The Unity of Command represents the relationship between the commander and the force, while the Unity of Direction represents the connection among multiple groups.
  4. The Unity of Command inspires each individual to understand the concept of responsibility, while the Unity of Direction inspires small groups to work in harmony.
  5. Unity of Command shows the flow of order from boss to subordinates, while Unity of Direction shows the flow of movement of each unit towards a similar destination.
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/bs.3830310105
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/lwpra44&section=24

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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13 thoughts on “Unity of Command vs Unity of Direction: Difference and Comparison”

  1. It is amazing to see how Unity of Command and Unity of Direction could be applied to any organization, whether it’s hierarchical or decentralized ones. All the parameters of comparison and definitions were very eye-opening.

  2. I have some disagreements with the post. I believe Unity of Direction is more relevant to the hierarchical organizations. I think Unity of Command is more suitable for decentralized ones.

  3. For me, the most interesting part was the importance of unity of direction in goal-oriented environments. The real-life example cemented it for me.


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