Difference of Unity of Command and Unity of Direction

Unity of command and unity of direction, are both important management principles.

But there is the difference between them. In this post, we will look at the difference of unity of command and unity of direction.

Unity of Command Principle

According to this principle, a subordinate (employee) must have and receive orders from only one superior (boss or manager). To put it another way, a subordinate must report to only one superior. It helps in preventing dual subordination.

This decrease the possibilities of “Dual subordination” which creates a problem is a function of managers. One boss and he is the boss and order comes from him nobody else.

Unity of Direction Principle

One head and one plan for a group of activities with the same objective. All activities which have the same objective must be directed by one manager, and he must use one plan.

This is called Unity of Direction.

For example, all marketing activities such as advertising, sales promotion, pricing policy, etc., must be directed by only one manager.

He must use only one plan for all the marketing activities. Unity of direction means activities aimed at the same objective should be organized so that there are one plan and one person in charge.

Boss, subordinates, members; all in the same organization might have different responsibility and position but the motive behind only all their activities have to be single, which is to attain organizational goals.

The principle of unity of command should not be confused with the principle of unity of direction as both do not mean the same thing.

The principle of unity of command is concerned with the functioning of people while the unity of direction is related to the activities. There cannot be unity of command without unity of direction, but it does not automatically follow from the latter.

Let’s see this table for a quick review of the above description.

Differential factor
Unity of Command
Unity of Direction
definitionA subordinate must have one superior and receive orders only form himMeans activities aimed at the same objective
ObjectivesPreventing dual subordination and creating accountabilityAll the activates aimed at the elected goad or plan
Subject matterActivates and decisions made in light of the plan and objectivesOne head and one plan for a group of activities with the same objective
RelationShows the relation among superior and SubordinateIndicated relationship of activates with the organizational plan and goals
Concerned withconcerned with the functioning of peopleConcerned with the activities toward goals


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