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Management styles can be employed dependent on the culture of the business, the nature of the task, the nature of the workforce and the personality and skills of the leaders. This idea was further developed by Robert Tannenbaum and Warren H. Schmidt (1958, 1973) who argued that the style of leadership is dependent upon the prevailing circumstance; therefore leaders should exercise a range of leadership styles and should deploy them as appropriate.
An Autocratic style means that the direction of the business will remain constant, and the decisions will all be similar, this in turn can project an image of a confident, well managed business. On the other hand, subordinates may become dependent upon the leaders and supervision may be needed.
There are two types of autocratic leaders. Directive Autocrat: Makes decisions unilaterally; closely supervises subordinates.Permissive Autocrat: Makes decisions unilaterally; gives subordinates latitude in carrying out their work.
A more Paternalistic form is also essentially dictatorial, however the decisions tend to be in the best interests of the employees rather than the business. A good example of this would be David Brent or Michael Scott running the business in the fictional television show The Office. The leader explains most decisions to the employees and ensures that their social and leisure needs are always met. This can help balance out the lack of worker motivation caused by an autocratic management style. Feedback is again generally downward, however feedback to the management will occur in order for the employees to be kept happy. This style can be highly advantageous, and can engender loyalty from the employees, leading to a lower labour turnover, thanks to the emphasis on social needs. It shares similar disadvantages to an authoritarian style; employees becoming dependent on the leader, and if the wrong decisions are made, then all employees may become dissatisfied with the leader. The leader always leads themselves into brushing the floor.
In a Democratic style, the manager allows the employees to take part in decision-making: therefore everything is agreed by the majority. The communication is extensive in both directions (from subordinates to leaders and vice-versa). This style can be particularly useful when complex decisions need to be made that require a range of specialist skills: for example, when a new ICT system needs to be put in place, and the upper management of the business is computer-illiterate. From the overall business's point of view, job satisfaction and quality of work will improve. However, the decision-making process is severely slowed down, and the need of a consensus may avoid taking the 'best' decision for the business. It can go against a better choice of action.
As the autocratic leaders, democratic leaders are also two types i.e. permissive and directive.
In a Laissez-faire leadership style, the leader's role is peripheral and staff manage their own areas of the business; the leader therefore evades the duties of management and uncoordinated delegation occurs. The communication in this style is horizontal, meaning that it is equal in both directions, however very little communication occurs in comparison with other styles. The style brings out the best in highly professional and creative groups of employees, however in many cases it is not deliberate and is simply a result of poor management. This leads to a lack of staff focus and sense of direction, which in turn leads to much dissatisfaction, and a poor company image.
We could perhaps include "accountable hierarchies" as a sub group here. Please see "Elliot Jacques" in reference to this
- Management methods
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- Management system
- Management by objectives
- Management by observation
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