Leading from in Front



Work a manager performs to cause people to take effective action
Ability to influence opinions, attitudes and behaviour of others towards common objectives
Morality and effectiveness are not the same thing - an effective leader is not necessarily "good"
There are many definitions - read widely and work out one which suits you


Character traits - what are they ? Tall , dark, handsome, intelligent, wise, kind, patient ....(One is born with these traits)
Compare 'bad' & 'good' leaders: do they have the same traits?

Can you be an effective leader if you are thin, short &ugly?

Do ethical considerations come into the definition? Was Hitler a 'good' leader if a 'bad' man?
Knowledge and skills
communication and administration etc
flexibility and consistency
planning and fairness
subject or product knowledge
Knowledge and skills can be acquired - perhaps they enhance the traits?


Ability - skills, knowledge, training
Motivation - see Outline 3
Potential performance = ability*motivation
Some people consider the maturity of the group, ie their need for more or less direct leadership,
ability to work as a team

Remember that groups are made of individuals; hence, all of above may vary within the group and

even from day to day.


As with problems [Outline 8]
  • Routine - use of Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs]
  • Extraordinary - one-off, no previous experience

In any one job, there will be a mixture of both.

Environmental influences - ie, those things over which you have no control, eg,
  • government policies,
  • company policy or
  • company culture.

Is leadership important in routine situations?

Does the leadership style need to change to match the nature of extraordinary situations?

To what extent do environmental influences affect leadership style?

Effective leadership is combination of all three - leader, group and situation - and
  • ability to know when to change one's style,
  • ability to be able to change one's style,
  • ability to change the leader ......

Types of Leader - Leadership Styles

Autocracy and Democracy; Dictators and Laissez-faire [pronounced lessay-fair]- continuums where leaders tend to be fixed in their approaches, ranging from those making all the decisions and then giving directions, to those who let the staff get on with their jobs within defined limits, or those who always ask everyone's opinion. The laissez-faire manager doesn't really care for either people or the company - just doesn't want to rock the boat!

The Peter Principle - a somewhat cynical view which suggests that managers rise to the level of their incompetence: they are promoted because of ability in lower level jobs, but cannot handle the current level - become laisse-faire or get carried away with the trivia that they feel competent to handle. Spend little time on the big issues, but annoy staff by pushing issues which should be left to delegates. The business survives because of the people under them who are ambitious and/or conscientious.

Blake-Mouton Managerial Grid - identifies a range of managerial behaviours, task-oriented or employee oriented, and combinations in-between. Obviusly, the 9,9 behaviour is seen to be most likely to produce goals and motivation. The laissez-faire manager would be a 1,1. An effective manager is one who achieves the company goals, but at the same time, has the welfare of staff at heart. Some people argue that a manager has a fixed attitude and is always 5,5 [or whatever] regardless of any changes in company goals, staff attitudes and training etc.

Ask yourself how you would fit in to this grid, and whether or not your style can change according to changes in goals, staff personal problems, lack of experience or training. Are you a hard manager or a soft manager, one who can keep the staff happy and just manage to reach your targets satisfactorily, or one who is always striving for better performance?

McGregor's Theory X and Theory Y

Assumptions a manager makes about her/his workers

Theory X - negative
Theory Y - positive

People naturally dislike work & try to avoid it

People see work as natural and will expend effort

Must be threatened, bullied, directed at all times

Will exercise self-control if committed to goals

Will be lazy & avoid responsibility

Can learn to accept & seek responsibility

Do not have any ambition

We all have creativity, imagination & ingenuity

Require security above all else

People's needs are variable & changing

Note that there is no valid evidence for either, but many managers fall into one or the other camp - changing from X to Y does not necessarily lead to better motivation. Imputation [assuming those under you have the same ethics, standards, skills etc as you do] is dangerous!

Modern theories of leadership tend to emphasise the Theory Y assumptions. However, a recent survey in Australia suggested that 70% of people go to work only for the money [I do not have the source - take my word for it!] If true, I think that is very sad, and managers and supervisors should do all in their power to make work more satisfying - and hence more productive. Even the most repetitive of jobs give scope for supervisors to use some imagination?


Situational and Contingency Models

Leadership effectiveness varies with the situation - eg

An effective leader in one situation may not be as effective in another. Therefore, as personal styles are hard to change, one should try to change either the manager or the situation. Many managers try to change the situation to suit their personal style.

Managers themselves can try to choose complementary assistants, or work out the strengths and weaknesses of all members of their team and utilise them to best effect.

Participatory management - teamwork and committees - see Belbin's Team Rôles

Traditional theories concern the Solo Leader:

Plays unlimited role

- interferes in everything

Strives for conformity

- moulds people to his standards

Collects acolytes

- yes men/women

Directs subordinates

- take their leads and cues from him

Projects objectives

- makes plain what everyone is expected to do

Modern theories concern the Team Leader

Chooses to limit role

- delegates roles to others

Builds on diversity

- values differences

Seeks talent

- not threatened by others

Develops colleagues

- encourages growth of personal strengths

Creates mission

- projects the vision for others to act on

The trend is to make managers less dictatorial and more team leaders. The Victorian work ethic - work was there to be done and was accepted, people were divided into two groups: the bosses and the workers - is dying out, due to the changes discussed below. Managers today often have to work as if they are chairing meetings - controlling what happens, but letting everyone have a say in the proceedings, and considering the implications of every move.

Changes in Society

Styles are dependent on expectation of others and the nature of the organisational culture:

You cannot be a team leader and exercise participatory management in an organisation that stresses solo leadership - unless you are strongminded, or prepared to effect change.

You can try changing jobs and seeking an organisation that reflects your beliefs.


Choosing a New Leader

If you are in the position of having to find a new leader, supervisor or manager, there are two approaches.

Continuity - find same type of person - chosen from the most eligible, not necessarily most suitable -

not always successful because
he/she was successful as an individual,
had experience in that particular area,
had a team to support him/her.

If taken from within the group, the make up of the team has been altered and the balance will need to be restored

New Approach - acknowledges a problem of some kind - therefore an analysis:

Opportunity to look at team role needed.
Having all staff databanked helps to produce shortlist
- but needs serious approach to career planning and HRM.

Career planning can produce a person who has no need to struggle - her/his career is planned - regular change of appointments to gain experience.

No one should be moved just to gain experience - acts unnaturally and staff are confused why she/he is foisted upon them.

Moves may be for functional or team-role purposes and should involve a number of people.


If you find yourself in a position for which your team-role is not suited - adapt a secondary role or, better still, carefully redraw the job boundaries to suit your role. [Very often such people leave a very different job behind from the one which they inherited.] This was referred to above as changing the situation - sometimes such people change their own job and the jobs of their staff; one form is known as empire building where the leader is promotion conscious in a large organisation. I used to know a man who downplayed every senior job he filled and convinced his superiors there really was no worthwhile job there - cutting out the prospects of those behind him whilst moving sideways himself. A case of the Peter Principle I suspect?


With fewer chains of command in modern organisations, there needs to be greater teamwork. Promotion will be through personal growth accomplished by broadening of experience, developing functional and technical skills while maintaining team role identity.

New organisations will be trapezoid not triangular, ie, fewer levels of management and more teams responsible for their own actions.


Action to be taken by an effective manager

 One book I read said that supervisors should change personality as they step in through the company door - put on your leadership style as you put on your white coat! I suggest you should be sufficiently aware of yourself and your abilities that you are the same person at home as you are at work; take the Theory Y approach to your staff until you are proved wrong.


Implications of Changes in Society

Education -
more people completing final year at school - higher level of numeracy and literacy
tertiary study - before joining workforce or part time whilst working
attitudes to work - expect satisfaction, fair deal, training, promotion ....
variety of jobs the norm - within the company and within the workforce

Structure -

age - starting work older, marrying younger, retiring later ....?
women - more in workforce, more in senior management, having a changing influence on attitudes
minorities - more voice, need to consider the job not the person, need to use their strengths

Technology -

computers - more people use them, managers must be conversant, use them to advantage
communication - quicker than in the past, must be effective up and down the company
automation - will cause problems, will save time - need to consider human resources

Environmental factors -

economic - unemployment, wages, interest rates
government - antidiscrimination, enterprise bargaining, freedom of information, sexual harassment


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Back to Outline 1- What a Manager Does

Move on to Outline 3 - Motivation & Job Satisfaction

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