Evaluating the leadership styles


This assignment is aimed at evaluating the leadership styles within the operations department of Robert Wiseman & Sons Ltd and determining if senior managers are performing more as managers or leaders. These evaluations will also be assessed to determine if the Managers styles and behaviours maybe impacting on succession planning.

In the Last Ten years Robert Wiseman and Son’s Ltd (RWD) have delivered excellent growth in sales volume and financial turnover, to cope with this increased demand within the last 3 years alone they have built 1 production facility and 3 distribution sites as well as purchasing 2 combined production and distribution facilities, the following vacancies exist currently across the 22 sites for the following key roles, 4 Quality Managers, 2 Shift Managers, 2 Engineering Managers, 2 Manufacturing Managers, 2 Regional Quality Managers (RQM), 1 Group Continous Improvement Manager and 2 Regional Operations Managers (ROM).The Manufacturing Managers. RQM’s and ROM’s roles are new positions however arguably the skill set required to fulfil these positions could and should be developed internally.

See Appendix 1 and 2 for relevant company organograms

As well as the current vacancies, 5 of the last 8 Site manager’s vacancies have been filled with external managers or managers who had less than 2 years experience within RWD. The Quality manager and Engineering Manager Vacancies are as a result of employees leaving for other positions out with RWD.

Given the phenomenal growth over the last 5 years in particular it is feasible to assume that this is the reason for the vacancies and lack of internal candidates with the skills and knowledge to fulfil them, however this assignment will evaluate the general way that the senior management team are performing, the predominant styles of this team and the assumptions they have regarding followers. This all will be summarised in a way that allows conclusions to be drawn on whether the business growth alone is responsible for the lack of developed leaders or wwehetehr thare are opportunities for the senior team to be developed and or change their style and approach to allow more efficient leadership development and as a result improved succession planning.

The Literature review (1100 words):

There is no single best “formula” for developing leaders, in fact leadership development is a complex subject with many factors to be considered. Reviewing the literature I have identified some elements that are likely to impact on leadership development for instance the conscious effort the organisation puts into identifying leaders, the type of work that leaders are expected to perform, what the leaders within the organisation think motivates followers, and the dominant leadership style’s within the senior management team. All of these to varying degrees affect the development of leaders of the future. Table 1 represents the theories and models I have explored in more detail.

Leadership Models & Styles



Leadership Style’s

Zaleznik, A 1977 Managers & Leaders: Are they Different?

Kotter, John P 2001

What leaders really do?

Blake & Mouton: Initiating structure / consideration

The leadership of production through people

Autocratic / Democratic

Hersey& Blanchard : Situational Leadership

Concern for people / Concern for tasks


Macgregor: Theory X Theory Y

What managers assume about followers.

Autocratic to Democratic

Bass: Transactional & Tranformational Leadership

Autocratic????/?????/???????/?????? to Participative

Table 1

There are different strategies that can be adopted to encourage the development of leaders of the future (Zaleznik, 1977), some companies that are successful at developing leaders use different approaches and one successful way to develop leaders is to assign Senior executives as mentors to Junior executives, this approach provides the budding leaders with direct contact to an influential leader within the organisation, access to the experienced leaders knowledge and opinions in a safe and risk free environment. This also allows the opportunity for the senior executive to practise and develop their mentoring skills, a crucial skill that all leaders should be able to practise.

Kotter, J (Kotter, 2001), clearly defines the difference between leaders and managers in that Leaders, identify the need for change, create a vision to mobilise and align the organisation and inspire and motive the followers within the organisation to achieve the vision, where as managers create the plan to deliver the vision, set objectives to monitor progress, create procedures and processes to train the people, achieve the objectives and monitor the plan for deviations and problem solve to bring the plan back on track. Given that if leaders are being effective and followers are truly inspired and motivated this could result in not only the achievement of the work but also followers willingness to accept more responsibility and have higher levels of engagement that if properly identified could highlight followers with the necessary talent to become leaders themselves.

(Blake and Mouton, 1967) theory of Initiating structure, how much value and effort the managers places on achieving the tasks that will increase production levels and thus profit, and Consideration, the amount of emphasis and effort the manager exerts in meeting the needs and expectations of the individuals. Manager’s styles can be evaluated using the Blake & Mouton leadership grid. The grid categorises managers styles into one of five different types ranging from 1.1 (the impoverished manager who has little concern for production or people) through 9.1 (the authority compliance manager, who has high concern for task completion and production, with little concerns for the needs of the individuals) to 9.9 (the Team manager, who has both high concern for task completion and high concern for the expectations and needs of the individual). 9.1 Managers would be categorised as having an Autocratic leadership style with 9.9 type managers practising a more Democratic leadership style. (Blake and Mouton, 1967) state that there is a 3rd dimension to the grid that looks at the managers resistant to change and highlights that managers dominant styles can change under stress or pressure if the manager has a low resistance to change, i.e. a Democratic 9.9 type manager can change to be more Autocratic 9.1 when faced with stressful or pressure situations. This theory is important in my investigation as it relates to the managers attitudes towards the followers and how that attitude may or may not encourage followers to develop.

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Hersey & Blanchard (Blanchard and Hersey, 1996), life Cycle theory which was later renamed as Situational leadership theory suggests that to achieve the task it is necessary for the leader to apply different leadership styles depending on the situation, the attitude and abilities of the followers and the type of tasks or jobs to be performed. This theory also allows for the leadership styles to be practised to develop followers to achieve the task and as the followers develop then it allows for different styles of leadership to be used to support their continued development. Using these styles of leadership are important when relating them to employee development particularly if the leaders are consciously aware of this theory and are purposely applying the appropriate leadership style with the aim of developing the followers whilst achieving the tasks.

Macgregor Theory X & Theory Y, describes the assumptions that managers have about people, this affects how the manager behaves towards the employees. If the manager has assumptions based on theory X he is likely to apply a more Autocratic leadership style as his assumptions will be negative towards the employee, he will assume that employees will only deliver performance expectations if they are pushed and controlled and that they have little to offer in terms of creativity or initiative. By contrast managers who have assumptions based on Theory Y which is the opposite of theory X assumptions will encourage employees to take responsibility, work autonomously, and participate in solving business problems and deliver higher than expected performance. Managers with theory Y assumptions will be more likely to apply a Democratic or Participative leadership style. Manager assumptions may also create the Pygmalion affect Kopelman (ADD CITATION), if the manager has high expectations of employees ability to deliver high levels of performance then he behaves in a manner that will encourage and support these feelings, this then positively affects the followers attitude and they will try and respond in kind. However this also applies to theory X assumptions in that the employees may only deliver the managers expectations and thus if those expectations assume low performance levels then the employees may deliver just that. Macgregor’s theory is an important aspect in relation to developing leaders as theory X type behaviours and the subsequent leadership style applied are likely to result in lower levels of motivation as defined by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where as leadership styles rooted in theory Y assumptions will open up the possibility of higher levels of employee motivation perhaps for employees to achieve self actualisation and thus deliver their potential, this potential may result in the employees becoming leaders themselves.

BM Bass , Transactional leadership (Add CITATION) , is a relationship between the leaders and followers which is based on a transaction, the manager provides, pay and rewards such as promotion or favourable working conditions in return for the follower delivering satisfactory levels of performance. This style of leadership is unlikely to produce anything other than average performance levels, particularly if the manager only interacts with the followers if performance levels or standards aren’t achieved. Transformational leadership by contrast requires leaders to inspire followers by creating a vision, applying a charismatic style and good communication skills to engage and inspire followers to achieve performance levels in excess of expectations. This style also calls for leaders to build relationships with followers as individuals and have genuine concerns for their well being and development. If Transformational leadership is practised properly then the organisation will benefit from greater performance levels, obtained by having followers who’s effort is far greater than they are contractually obligated to provide, as well as creating an organisational culture that encourages individuals to be developed to allow them the opportunity to fulfil their potential, this may also result in the followers becoming leaders.


In the following section I will present general background about Robert Wiseman & Sons Ltd (the company) including its origins, geographical coverage, annual turnover and annual sales. The section will also cover the methods I used to gather my information, including techniques, sources and the outcome of my investigation.

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Robert Wiseman Dairies is a UK based liquid milk processing company, established in 1947 in East Kilbride, just outside Glasgow in Scotland. Founded by Robert Wiseman Senior, the business increased in size and profitability when Robert SNR’s two oldest sons, Alan and Robert Jnr took control of the company. The business was floated on the stock market in 1994; however Alan & Robert remain the majority share holders. The company employs 4700 employees, has 22 sites based throughout the UK ranging from Keith in the north of Scotland to Pensilva in the south of England. The 22 sites consist of 7 production facilities (Dairies) of which 2 are combined Dairies and distribution depots, 14 Distribution depots and 1 milk reload site. The company deliver product to customers throughout the whole of the UK.

The company annual turnover as of March 2010 is ??????? with annualised sales per annum of ?????litres of Fresh liquid milk.

To obtain my evidence I interviewed 9 different leaders from within the Operations department, 2 Operational board members ,4 group or regional managers (responsibility for multiple sites) 3 Site managers. These individuals were chosen for their long length of service and seniority within the organisation, this seniority allows for the ability to develop managers to fill senior positions.

The average age of the senior managers is 47years old, with an average length of service of 20 years ,and an average length of time in a senior postiton, Site manager or above of 11 years, this ranged from 4 years to 16years.

The interview consisted of a question and answer section, the questionnaire was created by myself and focused on trying to identify leadership or management tasks along with questions regarding different leadership theories and 3 leadership style questionnaires, Blake and Mouton Leadership grid sourced from the internet, Macgregors assumptions about people questionnaire sourced from the Manufacturing institute along with a task-Person Leadership questionnaire also sourced from the Manufacturing institute.

Using the company’s automated library I obtained a copy of the company mission statement along with the personal development plans (PDP’s) for most salaried staff, these PDP’s were created in 2003 and have not been used for managers development for the last 5 years. No written or communicated company vision exists.

Company Mission Statement:

  • Be the recognised supplier of choice to the fresh liquid milk market
  • Understand Customers needs
  • Deliver the highest quality products
  • Build a culture of continuous improvement
  • Be the best fresh liquid milk processors and suppliers.

Table 2

Present my findings, look for common theme’s and put enough detail to give something to talk about in the discussion section.

Finish the section with 1 paragraph summary statement, this should provide a focus for the readers that lead them into the discussion section.

Put in the scores of the task V people questionnaire.


Leadership or Management: Vision Creation, Communication and Organisational alignment:

I began the questionnaire by asking each of the senior managers what they did in their job, half of the individuals mentioned that a large proportion of their time was either spent fire fighting or getting the product to the customers. The majority mentioned the need to achieve targets and objectives as well as looking for opportunities for continuous improvement all with a short term view. Only one of the Leaders suggested that they took a strategic view of the company direction as well as keeping abreast of the company competitors and world class organisations through benchmarking.

At first I was interested that no one mentioned communicating the company vision or aligning their depts. to achieve the vision which led me onto my next question:

Does the company have a vision?

All of the leaders confirmed there is no documented vision with only two of the leaders able to confirm that the company actually had a vision, this currently is only discussed informally at board level.

The remaining leaders had a guess at what they thought the vision was with 7 different visions being proposed.

In response to my next question, do you have a vision for your dept or site?

The majority of the senior managers did have a vision however they were on the whole not directly linked with the company vision, they were not aligned with each others vision and either had not been communicated at all or discussed only with each of their senior teams. None of the senior managers had communicated their vision with each other.

Succession planning & Mentoring.

To establish if the senior team spent time on identifying the leaders of the future and their successors I began with the following question, do you identify the leaders of the future for your area?

2 of the team responded that they do identify future leaders within their area and had informal discussions regarding their development. The others either did not actively or specifically seek out future leaders for their areas.

My next questions was, do you mentor any junior member of your team or any other team?

2 of the team are official mentors to junior employees; this is as a result of a new initiative that RWD is involved in where they are sponsoring employees through a foundation degree in Dairy technology. No other senior manager is currently participating in an official mentor/mentoree relationship, several of the team felt that they were unofficially mentoring at least 1 junior member of their team or had done in the past however in general this had not been communicated with the mentoree and was not structured in any way

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I then asked, is there any obligation on you from anywhere to develop your successor?

All answered that there was no official or direct expectation from the organisation that they identify and develop their successors, some felt that they where personally obliged to identify their successors, all felt that they should be obligated to develop their successors. The majority of the interviewee’s felt that they would be happy to accept an agreed objective with their line managers to identify and develop their successors and some of the interviewee’s had recognised individuals within their teams who had potential to develop into their successors. No one had agreed formal development plans with these individuals.

Most of the interviewee’s had recently been involved in or been given objectives to create a new competency framework for certain key roles. These documents are to be progressed to allow gap analysis’s to be performed with individuals and these would then generate Personal development plans. So whilst there has been little or any use of PDP’s for the last 5 years the company have recognised this and are acting to improve the situation.

Leadership Styles:

Using the Blake & Mouton leadership grid questionnaire all the senior team where evaluated, two of the team emerging as Authoritarian and the, majority emerged as Team Leaders based on their answers. The results ranged from 4.6 to 7.6 for consideration for people, with consideration for task ranging from 5.2 to 8.2. This indicates that with regards to consideration of people versus consideration for task completion there is no strong bias, however the majority of the results are closer to the 5.5 middle of the road manager style which may only result in adequate performance results a. If the aim is to have high performing teams producing high performance then there is an opportunity for improvement.

Individual results are shown on diagram ?????

Insert B&M Grid.

To investigate whether the senior management teams assumptions about people are impacting on their leadership styles and thereforemaybe impacing on developing leaders each manager completed an assumptions about people questionnaire to establish where they fit on Macgregors theory X and Y concept. The average results where 21 for Theory X, individual results varied from 9 to 34. Average results for Theory Y were 79. Individual results ranged from 66 to 91. In general the senior teams assumptions about people are generally positive, this allows for the possibility of the team influencing higher levels of motivations within their within their followers


Discussion (1100 words)

Format it/write it and re read it many times. This section ties together the whole assignment!!!!!!!!!!, needs to show my ability to link theory with the real world CHECK THE TOP TIPS FOR THIS AS IT IS DIFFICULT.

Conclusion and recommendations (800 words)

Review my research and suggest the changes that may be needed in light of the evidence I found out through carrying out the assignment (i.e. what the formal academic literature suggests I might be able to improve by using “best practise”.

I need to indicate what implications my recommendations could have for the mgt of the company. My conclusions and recommendations must come from my research (literature and company).

Makes sure I make it clear what the implications are for the company management of my focus/research.

One way of improving the development and performance of followers is to apply a more transformational leadership style approach within the organisations. This approach has proven to some extent to improve the motivation, and empowerment and thus the performance (Avolio,Eden & Shamir) ADD ENDNOTE CITATION) of followers. Providing training to the senior management team within operation’s beginning with the Top MANAGEMENT TEAM Supply chain director, GOM’s ROMs and to Site Mgrs on transformational leadership to expand the knowledge of the team may help to engage the leaders more in leader’s activities as oppose to management activities. The implications and cost of this approach would need to be reviewed and agreed before commencing this approach.


Put in a paragraph about what I’ve learnt from doing the assignment,, challenges I overcame, key learning’s for me, what I will do differently next time for the next assignment,

  • BLAKE, R. R. & MOUTON, J. S. 1967. MANAGERIAL GRID IN 3 DIMENSIONS. Training and Development Journal, 21, 2-5.
  • BLANCHARD, K. H. & HERSEY, P. 1996. Life-cycle theory of leadership. Training & Development, 50, 42-47.
  • KOTTER, J. P. 2001. What Leaders Really Do. Harvard Business Review, 79, 85-96.
  • ZALEZNIK, A. 1977. Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 55, 12.
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