Managerial Styles, Leadership and Organisational Success

Article Date | 22 September, 2023

By Ahmad Aslam, Lecturer in Business, LSST Elephant and Castle campus.


The role of management is pivotal in organisational success in that the style of management determines the effectiveness of management. Further, the style of management is crucial to developing good working relationships while engaging team members and establishing a level of trust, respect and rapport between the management and the team members. On the contrary, an inappropriate style of management may lead to an outcome where employees feel demotivated and detached. Managerial styles not in line with the ethos of an organisation may result in organisational failure (see CMI, 2023).

Historically, managers would use an old-fashioned approach to manage their teams (CMI, 2023). They believed that their authority was the only way to guarantee success and that there was only one management style that could be applied to every situation. This style was based on command and control and was considered normal before the 1980s. However, over time, there has been a shift towards a more collaborative and coaching approach to management. The objective is to promote motivation and engagement among employees, and this approach is now seen as more effective than the old style.

The academic term “management style” has been replaced with “leadership style” in recent times (see CMI, 2023). However, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two terms. Some experts consider leadership as an aspect of management which can be demonstrated by anyone and is not limited to senior management positions. While both management and leadership styles aim to exercise authority in the workplace to achieve objectives, they may differ in terms of body language, behaviour, conduct, and demeanour.

Categories of management

Rensis Likert, in 1961, described four categories of management and leadership styles based on the level of managerial authority. These categories are as follows:

Exploitative/Authoritative, where the manager issues orders, uses fear and punishment techniques and has little or no confidence in their employees.

Benevolent/Authoritative, where the manager has some confidence in their employees but still uses an authoritative style and treats their team in a paternalistic manner.

Consultative, where the manager shows confidence in their employees, involves them in sharing ideas and opinions, but retains decision-making power.

And, Participative, where management has complete confidence in their employees, involving them in sharing ideas, setting goals, and making important decisions.

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton (1964), mentioned two driving forces behind managerial styles and behavior. One is having concern for getting the job done and the second driving force is the concern for the employees involved. Based on the two driving forces, the managerial styles are categorised as impoverished management, having little concern for the task or the people, and authority-obedience having high concern for the task but least concern for the people. The approach is based more on command and control and has the prospect of damaging the relationships with the employees.  A Country Club leadership style is where there is high concern for the people but less concern for the task. Such style may result in a friendly working environment however the work may be compromised. Team management has high consideration for the task and the employees, such managerial style has high prospects for successful achievement. Middle-of-the-road management in which there is a moderate level of concern for the task and the people.

Bernard Bass (2006), mentioned that transformational leadership is based on the engagement of followers. In such leadership, the followers consider their leader as a role model and a charismatic personality who commands a high level of respect among the followers and demonstrates strong moral and ethical principles. Such leadership due to its strong character is able to inspire and motivate his followers to perform more than the threshold levels. This transformational leadership has the ability to influence Intellectual stimulation among the followers thus encouraging creativity, a collaborative learning environment and delegating a higher level of authority. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus (1974), described transformational leadership as having a clear vision for the future, serving as a social architect, communicating a direction, creating trust within the organisation through clarity and consistency and encouraging positive self-regard among employees to concentrate on their strengths.

Daniel Goleman (2017), classified leadership styles into six categories based on varying levels of emotional intelligence: (1) A coercive leader who demands immediate compliance, (2) an authoritative leader who marshals employees towards an organisational vision, and (3) an affiliative leader who develops emotional connectivity with employees and pursues harmony, (4) a democratic leader who engages employees in consensus building, (5) a pacesetting leader who encourages employees towards achieving excellence and (6) coaching leaders who equip their employees towards future developments.

Goleman (2017) proposed that leadership has to follow a multi-styled approach that can be appropriate according to the context at a given time. Modern approaches stress on the importance of managing and leading while using soft skills such as being honest with employees, listening to employees’ concerns, building a level of trust with the employees and avoiding coercion.

Tannenbaum Schmidt Leadership Continuum

Robert Tannenbaum and Warren Schmidt (2007), provided insight about leadership style which can be gauged on basis of level of control or authority by the management and level of flexibility to which the subordinates are allowed to act on their own initiatives. They mentioned about the leadership continuum consisting of seven stages starting from when management exerts the highest level of control to the stage when subordinates are empowered to make decisions independently within pre-determined limits. The seven stages are: tells, persuades, shows, consults, asks, shares and involves. A good manager has to move along the stages according to the capabilities and experience of the team.

Theory X and Theory Y

Douglas McGregor (2008), proposed two sets of theories related to a human approach towards work and mentioned about the managerial styles related to such human nature. Theory X assumes that human beings have an innate dislike for work and they need to be directed and controlled to achieve the desired results. That control leads to an autocratic managerial style.

Theory Y considers that human beings take work as something natural that provides them with a sense of satisfaction. Theory Y proposes that employees can be motivated by respect and recognition from the management. Such beliefs lead to a more consultative and participative managerial style. McGregor mentioned that Theory X may lead to demotivation and poor performance while Theory Y may result in a higher level of motivation and performance.

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones (2009), mentioned that Authentic Management is leadership that is honest, practices whatever it preaches, and has a strong focus on being aware of employees’ feelings and overall understanding of the organisational culture. Much of today’s management is focused on how managers relate to people. The key to effective management is adapting your style to fit the context, culture, task, and team members’ expectations.

Exploring the appropriate managerial style for higher education institutions holds significant value. From my perspective, it’s essential to acknowledge that managing academic institutions differs substantially from corporate settings, primarily because of the unique nature of academic work, especially for faculty members. Contemporary management principles increasingly prioritize employee well-being, cooperation, and overall engagement. Managing an academic institution requires a focus on employee satisfaction, flexibility, collaboration and engagement. The autocratic command and control approach is no longer effective in today’s working environment. I believe that academic staff deserve an even higher level of respect, recognition, collaboration, and consultation due to the nature of their work. Therefore, it is important to prioritize these aspects when dealing with academic staff.

What are your reflections on the management and leadership approaches within academic institutions? Do you believe that a directive and authoritative management style is more suitable, or do you advocate for a more collaborative and employee-centric approach? Please feel free to share your perspectives in the comments section below.


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Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, W.H., 2017. How to choose a leadership pattern. In Leadership perspectives (pp. 75-84). Routledge.

Kopelman, R.E., Prottas, D.J. and Davis, A.L., 2008. Douglas McGregor’s theory X and Y: Toward a construct-valid measure. Journal of Managerial Issues, pp.255-271.

Goleman, D., 2017. Leadership that gets results (Harvard Business Review Classics). Harvard Business Press.

Goffee, R. and Jones, G., 2009. Authentic leadership. Leadership Excellence26(7), p.1.

Likert, R. (1961). New Patterns of Management. New York: McGraw-Hill Company.

Blake, R. and Mouton, J., 1964. The managerial grid: The key to leadership excellence. Houston: Gulf Publishing Co350.

Bass, B. and Riggio, R.E., 2006. Transformational leadership.

Bennis, W.G. and Nanus, B., 1974. Leadership. University of Cincinnati.

Chartered Management Institute (2015) Understanding management and leadership styles. Available at: Understanding management and leadership styles (

Accessed: 30 Aug 2023.


One thought on “Managerial Styles, Leadership and Organisational Success”

  1. This blog provides valuable insights into various theories related to the topic. The information presented here can be effectively utilised in classroom activities. We may extend the discussion to Richard Barrett’s ideas on empathy and compassion in the workplace.

    • Profession: Lecturer in Business

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