Management styles as a means of managing situations?


Management is usually learnt from a textbook.  We get our basic management knowledge in this way. But, does this allow us to become good mangers or leaders? If we are naturals then the answer might be yes. Most of us have to learn and fine tune our management knowledge. That is not all. We then have to put that knowledge into practice.


This seminar explores where we can get the knowledge from and considers how we can use those skills in order to effectively manage situations.


What do we mean by management styles?


How do we develop our management styles?


Where can we learn the art of management?


Theories of Leadership


The earliest studies of the leader were those carried out by people such as F W Taylor and Henri Fayol. These were the command and control theory X type approaches to management.


The reader should note that writers on leadership have succeeded in achieving very little uniformity in reaching an agreed definition of leadership.


This lack of uniformity is well illustrated by John Adair in 1968. Adair showed some of the leadership qualities looked for in the US Marine Corps, The Royal Naval College Dartmouth, and the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell.



Trait Theories


Some of the better known Trait theories were those devised by Edwin Ghiselli who saw the traits required in a leader as :


Abilities : supervisory, intelligence and initiative

Personality : decisive, self assured, ability to direct/lead, maturity, and an affinity with the workers.

Motivation : need for occupational advance, need for self actualisation, need for power and the need for security.


David McClelland researched the traits of the managerial achiever. The managerial achiever displayed the following leadership traits :


wants more responsibility

wants moderate to difficult feedback

wants clear feedback on performance

is usually prepared to take risks

is usually a perfectionist

is usually in a hurry, and is often unsociable.

McClelland states that traits will vary depending on what has already been achieved.


Traits theory has fallen out of fashion, because of the difficulty identifying a precise set of traits that a leader should possess.


Style Theories


The Style theories of leadership developed after 1950. One of the earliest writers was Rensis Likert.


Likert believed that managers could be classified in the following categories


Exploitive Autocratic

Benevolent Autocratic



In 1958 Tannenbaum and Schmidt published the now famous continuum of leadership styles.


The Ashridge Studies 1966 are of the tell, sell, consult or join style whilst 1960 saw Douglas McGregor publish " The Human Side of Enterprise" famous for the Theory X, Theory Y styles of leadership.


Another variation on the style theme is the work of Huneryager and Heckman in 1967. They identified four styles of leadership :

a) dictatorial

b) autocratic

c) democratic

d) laissez faire


These styles bear a close relation to those of Likert, albeit the titles are different. Reinventing the wheel?


The style theories approach went out of fashion for the simple reason that it was too static a theory in that assumed we had the same style of management to all people and all situations. The defects in the style theories approach led to the development of the contingency / situational approach to management.


Contingency School / Situational School


The late 1960's saw the work of Fred Fiedler and the so called Contingency school of leadership.


Contingency is a dynamic, constantly moving theory. It sees leadership as a relative process.


Fred Fiedler concluded that group performance was dependent upon the leader adopting the style which was appropriate to the situation. The style adopted would depend on key factors :


1 leader / member relations

2 the degree of structure of the task and

3 the power and authority of the position

Fiedler found that these three variables could produce eight possible combination of situations.


The most favourable of these were :

a) where there were good leader member relations

b) where the task was highly structured

c) the leader had a strong position power


The least favourable situation was :

a) where the leader was disliked

b) the task was relatively unstructured

c) the leader had little position power.


John Adair came up with his Action Centred Leadership theory in 1973. Adair saw three variables at work in the leadership situation.


They are :

Task needs : which can include the objectives of the business and how these might be best achieved.

Group needs : such as team building, communication and motivation

Individual needs : such as power, status, affiliation, recognition and achievement

These were the tasks of management.


In a nutshell, Adair drew a distinction between an autocrat and leader. People will follow the autocrat, in a crisis, but at other times will resent and resist him.


Adair sees the leader as having four key skills :

guidance, and support


The adaptive nature of Adair's work means that it belongs to the Contingency school, and is often used as a device in management training due to its emphasis on skill development.


One of the earliest attempts [and one of the earliest ethnographic approach to the understanding of management] to study what managers actually do was by Henry Mintzberg. Mintzberg in 1973 was concerned that management theory did not explain what managers actually did. His research concluded that managers had a range of roles :

Role                    Description

Figurehead                  The manager, acting as a symbol or representative of the organisation, performs diverse ceremonial duties. By attending Chamber of Commerce meetings, heading the local United Way drive, or representing the president of the firm at an awards banquet, a manager performs the figurehead role.

Leader                        The manager, interacting with subordinates, motivates and develops them. The supervisor who conducts quarterly performance or selects training opportunities for his or her subordinates performs the role of leader. This role emphasises the socioemotional and people-oriented side of leadership and de-emphasises task activities, which are more often incorporated into the decisional roles.

Liaison                        The manager establishes a network of contacts to gather information for the organisation. Belonging to professional associations or meeting over lunch with peers in other organisations helps the manager perform the liaison role.

Monitor                      The manager gathers information from the environment inside and outside the organisation. He or she may attend meetings with subordinates, scan company publications, or participate in companywide committees as a way of performing this role.

Disseminator               The manager transmits both factual and value information to subordinates. Managers may conduct staff meetings, send memoranda to their staff, or meet informally with them on a one-to-one basis to discuss current and future projects.

Spokesperson              The manager gives information to people outside the organisation about its performance and policies. He or she oversees preparation of the annual report, prepares advertising copy, or speaks at community and professional meetings.

Entrepreneur              The manager designs and initiates change in the organisation. The supervisor who redesigns the jobs of subordinates, introduces flexible working hours, or brings new technology to the job performs this role.


Handler                      The manager deals with problems that arise when organisational operations break down. A person who finds a new supplier on short notice for an out-of-stock part, who replaces unexpectedly absent employees, or who deals with machine breakdown performs this role.

Resourcer                   The manager controls the allocation of people, money, material and time or by scheduling his or her own time, programming subordinates' work effort, and authorising all significant decisions. Preparation of the budget is a major aspect of this role.

Negotiator                  The manager participates in negotiation activities. A manager who hires a new employee may negotiate work assignments or compensation with that person

From : H. Mintzberg, The Nature of A Manager's Work Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1979)


Tom Peters and Robert Waterman Jnr wrote "In Search of Excellence" in 1982. The book still contains much that is of interest to those who want to learn about the art of management. The chapters on leadership and motivation are excellent. Peters and Waterman stated that the rational approach to management and the attempt to provide a theory of management was not at all successful. Instead they looked at what made successful businesses work. What were they doing that others were not.


Amongst their conclusions were the Eight Attributes of Excellence


A bias for action -- a preference for doing something -- anything -- rather than sending a question through cycles and cycles of analyses and committee reports


Staying close to the customer -- learning his preferences and catering to them


Autonomy and entrepreneurship -- breaking the corporation into small companies and encouraging them to think independently and competitively


Productivity through people -- creating in all employees the awareness that their best efforts are essential and they will share in the rewards of the company's success


Hands-on, value driven - insisting that executive keep in touch with the firm's essential business


Stick to the knitting - remaining with the business the company knows best


Simple form, lean staff - few administrative layers, few people at the upper levels


Simultaneous loose-tight properties - fostering a climate where there is dedication to the central values of the company combined with tolerance for all employees who accept those values.


For Peters and Waterman management needs to be concerned with :


             Quality of the product

             Looking after the customer and

             Looking after employees.


Both Peters and Waterman have published books since In Search of Excellence. Waterman R (1994) The Frontiers of Excellence : Learning From Companies That Put People First London Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd is one such book.


The intent as seen in the early chapters "Learn from the best; find role models to emulate" (p 15) [We are seeing here evidence of the move towards learning from others and a move away from the general theory of management approach seen in traits, styles contingency etc]


Waterman provides examples of practice form firms such as Motorola, Federal Express and Procter and Gamble. However, to get into the ethos of the organisation the example of PS 94 a deprived, overcrowded school in the Bronx district of New York makes for interesting reading for anyone interested in organisations.  In this poorly resourced school :


...reading, writing and math scores are above national averages, and absentee rates are low. What seemed most striking on the day I visited was that most of the people I met were having fun. (p 69)


Coaching and mentoring were evident in PS 94. Waterman provides a list of attributes of good coaches :

     gift of time

     high expectations

     genuine concern and interest





      sense of fun and humour (pp 71- 7)

Probably the book on practical management that has made an impact on me in recent times is “NUTS” by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg. the story of Southwest Airlines, the original and still profitable low price airline.  The first 50 or so pages are about the history of the business. After that it is about the managing of the company and is compulsive reading that brings home the point that management is hard work and as Goldsmith and Clutterbuck say in Winning Streak Mark II is all about spinning plates.  

Southwest's mission statement


          Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and Company spirit.


We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.  Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the same concern, respect and caring attitude within the Organisation that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer.

Southwest’s Corporate philosophy



          Celebrate everything

Hire the right people

Limit committees

Keep a warrior spirit

Keep multiple scenarios

Minimise paperwork

Be informed

Move fast

Dare to be different.


Benefits of Southwest’s fun culture :


most productive work force in the industry

working for the fun of it

low attrition and absenteeism

high creativity and innovation


Another book on management that impressed me was Carlzon J (1989) Moments of Truth : New Strategies for Today's Customer-Driven Economy New York Harper and Row


At SAS, Carlzon found that the 'new' strategy of decentralising responsibility was difficult to inspire amongst middle management. The process for empowering employees was not without problems :


To motivate the front line and suggest their efforts requires skilled and knowledgeable middle managers who are proficient at coaching, informing, criticizing, praising, educating and so forth. Their authority applies to the overall strategies into practical guidelines that the front line can follow and then mobilizing the necessary resources for the front line to achieve its objectives. This requires hard-nosed business planning along with healthy doses of creativity and resourcefulness. (Carlzon 1989 p 68)


A useful source of information on leadership is where you can receive a newsletter that provides details of latest thoughts on leadership.  In the May 1999 edition of the Wharton Leadership Digest there is a reference to "Results Based Leadership" 1999 by Ulrich, Zenger and Smallwood that suggests that when we look at leadership development we ask questions such as :


          What results do we need to achieve?  and

          What must we do to learn and to make things happen?


In other words we must look at management development from the point of view of outcomes rather than inputs. Should it [management development]  be customer rather than provider driven?


Jack Welch the CEO of GE told a meeting on 17 February 1999 that "managers should walk around with a pack of fertiliser in one hand and a watering can in another" The reason was the need to grow the manager. But, those who did not grow should be cut back.


Welch said that principles used at GE included :

          Involve everyone

          Create a learning organisation

          Be agile

          Execute leadership


Leadership involves learning the four e's


          Energise others




The Guernsey Business School breakfast seminars have looked at many areas of recent research that will help the manager become more competent in dealing with specific situations. We have looked at subjects such as  managing change, examining this topic from the decision making angle; managing performance that pays particular attention to how the balanced scorecard can help our developing of strategy as well as providing a superb means of control; micropolitics and its potentially destructive affect on organisation; emotional intelligence and its part in developing our staff; as well as aspects of appraisal including feedback and 360 degree appraisal. These seminars, using latest research and ideas, all contribute to the updated management database that is available to us and necessary for the successful manager.


Some recent research that might help our understanding of management


"Retention through Redemption" D Michael Abrashof, Harvard Business Review, February 2001


This is one of the best recent articles on the actualities of hands-on leadership


Took over command of USS Benfold 1997


Crew cheered when former commander left ship.


Abrashof's approach – "retain through redemption" – changing their lives.


First, Abrashof had to redeem himself – change from the traditional command and control system of management.


Abrashof realised the need to empower and to unleash the creativity and know-how below decks.


"To set it loose and make it flourish, a leader should neither command nor control; he should provide vision and values and then guide, coach and even follow his people".  (Abrashof, p 138)


What is interesting is that Michael Abrashof fashions his leadership model on William Perry, the Secretary for Defence, for whom he worked between 1994 – 1997.


Abrashof was impressed by the way in which Perry listened to people and how his active listening encouraged people to do things for him.


When he took command of Benfold, Abrashof vowed to treat every encounter with every person on the ship as the most important thing in his world at that time.  Only then could he give his full, undivided attention.


Abrashof gives examples of how listening to the lower deck leads to changes, not only in Benfold but also in the US Navy.


One of the signs of real empowerment was that Abrashof was able to tell people "This is your ship" and the crew understood that he meant it.  Give people responsibility and they will respond.


The real test of trust came some months later when Benfold underwent, at sea, part of its technical inspection.  The tricky part of leaving port was left to the most junior officer.


Just a few days before the inspection, the Master at Arms (Master Chief) recounted a conversation he had overheard.  One sailor was telling another "I don't know what we're going to do if we don't do well on this inspection."  The reply was "I know, we don't want to let the captain down."


This article on leadership in the US Marines makes for interesting reading, especially when we consider the lessons that can be learnt form Abrashof. More importantly what lessons can we learn that will allow us to improve our performance and maintain our hard fought competitive advantage.


Officer Development:  U.S. Marine Corps University By Jason Santamaria, Wharton MBA Student (WG 2001) and former U.S. Marine Corps officer 

A team of Wharton MBA students, faculty, and staff visited the U.S. Marine Corps University at Quantico, Virginia, in December, 2000, to observe three schools where the Marines train their front-line leaders.  Our purpose was to draw out lessons that can be applied to teaching leadership at the Wharton School and more generally in business management.

Observation of the three schools prompted us to identify four
commonalities that we deemed especially useful for teaching leadership in
any setting:  (1) the usefulness of small discussion groups, (2) the value
of a learning-by-doing approach, (3) the importance of feedback and
self-evaluation, and (4) the effectiveness of a "leadership reaction
course" for simulating real life leadership situations.

The Marines viewed the small group discussion forum as an especially
effective means to leverage shared experiences and engage student interest.

An instructor facilitates the discussion of a hypothetical case or
controversial topic among a group of six to twelve students.  Students must
not only clearly articulate their opinions, but also provide supporting
arguments that substantiate their points.  This prompts vigorous discussion
of important leadership topics and drives students to think through their
own views. Marines look to develop leaders with "a willingness to decide and a bias for action."

Marines rely heavily on feedback to reinforce the lessons learned "while doing." Upon completion of each discrete task, an exhaustive debrief ensues. The student leader must first evaluate himself or herself and provide an explanation to the group as to why he or she chose a particular course of action.

The group then asks questions of the leader and provides alternatives Finally, the instructor provides additional input.  While this experience can be trying, invaluable lessons are learnt.


Leading Up – the art of managing your boss – Michael Useem  April 26 2001

Leaders have followers, but not all followers are subordinates.

Quite true, says management professor Michael Useem, director of Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. Indeed, if managers wish to be effective, they must learn how to lead the people they report to as well as the employees they oversee. Useem calls this process "leading up."

Leaders have always been required to lead both up and down, but it is more important to lead up today than in years past. As organisations decentralise, managers must recognize that to accomplish their goals they must exert greater influence on superiors.

"Leading up is the act of working with people above you - whether one boss, several bosses, a chief executive, a board of directors or even stockholders - to help them and you get a better job done," says Useem, whose book, Leading Up: How To Lead Your Boss So You Both Win, is to be published in October by Random House. "Organisations need more overall direction from below to think strategically, communicate persuasively and act decisively."

Virtually any organisation can benefit from more upward leadership, Useem says. Everyone knows an executive, director, political leader or religious figure who could have been more effective had they only been given direction or assistance by the people for whom they were responsible.

Useem notes that leading up is not the same as managing up, just as managing down differs from leading down. "When you manage down, you hire good people, work out an appropriate compensation system for them, review their performance and meet deadlines," Useem explains. "Leading down involves more than that. You have to add value to an office, not just run it. You have to go well beyond where you are now. You have to excite people, mobilize the troops. Often that also entails large-scale changes in the architecture of an organisation."

In the same way, he says, leading up is more difficult than just managing up. Keeping your boss informed about what you are hearing from your sales people in the field about customer needs is an example of managing up. Leading up, by contrast, might involve offering your superior a strategic insight or plan that could open up a new market for the company. Or, if your boss is falling short in conveying his or her vision for the firm, leading up would require that you coach your boss to help him or her find more effective ways for getting the message out.

Nor does leading up mean trying to ingratiate yourself with your superiors, being a nagging fault-finder who criticizes people or undermining someone’s authority. Instead, Useem says, leading up is an "affirmative calling" to help a boss accomplish what everyone and the organisation wants or needs to accomplished. The premise is that superiors need all the leadership assistance they can get.

Useem says almost anyone in an organisation can lead up if the organisation encourages it. "If you’re a middle or top person at Motorola, Hewlett-Packard or Deutsche Bank, you should want all the help you can get from the ranks below. The markets these companies face are far too complex for any one person to see it all. But it’s also critical that companies create a culture that helps people understand that you do want upward feedback, that you want coaching and assistance in being effective, that you want all the strategic insights on your markets that people below can provide."

If not done properly, however, leading up can be risky, especially if your superiors are not ready for it. "You always have to undertake it carefully," Useem says. "But some bosses won’t tolerate any upward leadership, and with them you may not want to risk ending your career at the company in trying to provide it."

A recent example of leading up took place aboard the U.S. surveillance plane that was forced to land after it was struck and damaged by a Chinese fighter jet. The commander of the U.S. aircraft relied heavily on information relayed to him by his crew as he made split-second decisions amidst terrible chaos about whether to abandon the plane or try to land it safely, and how to go about destroying sensitive intelligence information on board.

"The crew members did what they knew they had to do on behalf of their mission and commander," says Useem. "The flight engineer later said, ‘Thank God for our training.’ That was a very telling comment. The commander carried total authority on that aircraft, but he had people on board who were well-trained in the art of taking charge and of carrying out their responsibilities and collectively acting as if they were all in command."

The U.S. Marine Corps, where rank is also highly delineated and prized, has embraced the concept of leading up as well. When Marine officers plan a military action, they ask subordinates to speak up about what they think may be fatal flaws in the plan. "If you do that repeatedly, your subordinates come to appreciate that you really do want their insights, and they will become believers," Useem says. "Also remember that in asking for upward feedback, just because you did not first appreciate certain ideas yourself in no way undermines your rank or threatens your stature in the minds of subordinates."


Managing up – giving boss appropriate factual data

Leading up – giving boss strategic insight or plan i.e American spy plane and China and Michael Abrashof study


What makes the good entrepreneurial leader? By Vipin Gupta and Ian Macmillan Wharton Business School. April 26 2001.


Gupta and Macmillan ask how can we create a spirit of continuous experimentation , capturing opportunities that emerge from our experiments and ideas?


According to Gupta and Macmillan the entrepreneurial leader must perform two functions


          1 transformational enactment


absorb uncertainty – anything that goes wrong is my not your fault


frame the challenge – push employees to the limit of their ability


underwriting / Pathclearing – create a conducive culture for development. (skunk works, Tushman ambidextrous organisation)


2 Cost enactment


                   build commitment

define gravity – break down team members real and perceived barriers about what can and cannot be achieved.


Gupta and Macmillan claim we should work the entrepreneurial spirit into our management styles.


Some practical questions


Are we really willing to give power / authority / empowerment to colleagues? Do we have trust, confidence in our colleagues?


Do we have sufficient corporate emotional intelligence to adequately develop and motivate people?


Is any empowerment real?  What do we mean by empowerment?


If we are prepared to empower, do we know the expertise that exists in our organisation?


How can we convince people to articulate their skills and competencies?  Do we understand the skills and competencies we need from our staff? 


Are we, as consumers ready to take the training needs initiative from the providers?



Some helpful strategies for developing managerial knowledge and competence


1 Create a culture that encourages and enables the mid set needed to meet such challenges


2 Develop our knowledge base of modern management research


3 Allow some of the leading managers and writers on management to teach, coach, advise you through your reading of their experiences.  Your reflection and reconstruction of their stories to the environment of your workplace will be a sound learning experience.




We can develop our management styles as a means of managing situations. However, these skills will only be fully achieved through a continuing process of understanding the latest developments in management.


We must also appreciate that management techniques and initiatives will only work in an environment where the culture is supportative, leadership is committed and change management is well developed.



Stephen John BSc(Econ) MSc MEd MBA MPhil FCIPD

14 June 2001