The textbook describes the Bureaucratic style of leadership as a supervisor who manages by the book and is seen by his/her employees as a police officer. This type of leadership style is great for workplaces where the employees have no chance of discretion when it comes to their jobs such as accounting and law related work.
The term Bureaucracy can be traced to eighteenth-century French literature. The early usage referred to an official workplace (bureau) in which individual activities were routinely determined by explicit rules and regulations. As modern systems of management, bureaucracies are designed to rationally coordinate the duties and responsibilities of officials and employees or organizations. The delineation of official duties and responsibilities by means of formal rules and programs or activity, is intended to displace and constrain the otherwise private, idiosyncratic, and unlikely personal interests an d actions of individuals. Bureaucratic systems of administration are designed to ensure that the activities of individuals rationally contribute to the goals and interests of the organizations within which they work.
“Bureaucracy is the world of explicitly formulated goals, rules, procedures, and givens that define and regulate the place of its “members”, a world of specialization and expertise, with the roles of individuals minutely specified and differentiated. Its employees are organized by purpose, process, clientele, or place, It is a world that prices consistency, predictability, stability, and efficiency more than creativity and principle. Roles and duties are prescribed less by superiors than by tradition, formal examinations, and technical qualifications. Careers and job security are protected by tenure, pensions, union rules, professional standards and appeal procedures”
Some other important characteristics of bureaucracies are the hierarchical ordering of authority relations, limiting the areas of command and responsibility for subordinate as well and superordinate personnel, the recruitment and promotion of individuals on the basis of technical expertise and competence, a clearly defined division of labor with specialization and training required for assigned tasks, a structuring of the work environment to ensure continuous and full time employment, and the fulfillment of individual career expectations within the organization, the impersonality and impartiality of relationship among organization members and with those outside the organization, the importance of official record in the form of written documents.
I feel that when talking about Bureaucratic leadership, it is more like when talking about a computer’s programing. A computer follows a protocol to do whatever we need it to do, the same way a Bureaucratic leader looks to the rules, the protocol, to see what needs to be done and how it is to be done. This text explains that “bureaucracy discourages the kind of power that is generated by the tapping of motivational bases among employees and the marshaling of personal- as opposed to organizational- resources…And Bureaucracy, far from directing social change or serving as a factor in historical causation, consciously or not helps buttress the status quo”.
This is majorly significant in understanding Bureaucratic leadership because most people only know that bureaucratic leadership is about following the rules but they don’t understand that there is an underlying need from these bureaucratic leaders to follow the rules and that their minds are stuck in the feeling of “if its not broken, why fix it” as well as knowing that maybe not following the rules may result in problems for them that would not have been generated had they followed to rules.
Bureaucratic authority is formal power that has been vested in persons by virtue of their holding certain positions, that is, vested in the positions themselves. Such authority may be used to influence subordinates under a system of rewards and penalties, the “carrot and stick method” usually, and this authority from ruler to subordinate is accepted because the subordinate is motivated to respect its credibility and legitimacy. Basically conformity is the basis of bureaucratic leadership and bureaucracy in general.
The knowledge that we must follow the rules, no matter what, to get ahead is the very thing that makes us feel that no matter how much or how little work we do our efforts will not be recognized. This leads to conformity and feeds into the status quo by hammering into our heads that the very act of trying to change the way things are, the workplace, society and such, may and will end in punishment either by literally removing us from the environment, termination, or by brainwashing us to think that our actions are wrong, rehabilitation.
The historical trend towards increasing bureaucratization through modern Western Europe, highlighted by the changing structure of military organizations, is documented in the works of Karl Marx, however, the study of bureaucratic structure and process as the prominent sociological topic is based on the intellectual legacy of Max Weber.
Max Weber observed that bureaucratic authority was not the rule but the exception. Even in large political systems such as those in ancient empires, rulers carried out key measures through their inner circles or personal trustees, table companions, and servants of the court. In certain cultures, unlike the ones just discussed, bureaucracies were the dominant basis of the organization, empires such as the Romans and China during recent history.
To Weber, power represents the ability or capacity to have other people behave in accordance with certain orders or dictates, no matter if those affected care that its application is rightful or legitimate. Authority for Weber, represents the legitimation of this power by those whose activities are ordered in such way that the application of power and its impact is deemed to be proper and acceptable.
At the root or bureaucratic conflicts, lies some kind of struggle and prestige. This struggle pervades the bureaucracy because it engages persons who tap one another’s motivational and need bases and who have various power resources that they can employ or mobilize in this process.
Within the bureaucratic organization, rules serve to direct individual actions in ways that promote the technical efficiency of the organization. The distinctive feature of bureaucratic organization is not the use or rules per Se but, rather, the type of rules employed within a organization as well as the justification for the use of the rules. Rules have been, and continue to be, used in all forms of administration to control individual actions, whether it is by following the rules verbatim or by loosely interpreting them.