Nowadays we can distinguish many different types of leadership styles. Some of them are respected by employees, but on the other hand there are also styles which are considered very poorly. This paper presents and explores leadership styles based on the observations of managers in Sainsbury’s Nine Elms. In the first part research question has been formed and discussed. The second part is a literature review, with characteristic of most popular leadership styles. In the third part, methodology which will be used for research and to find an answer on research question will be discussed.



Human resource management is a series of activities which, first enables working people and the organisation which uses their skills to agree about the objectives and nature of their working relationship. Secondly, ensures that the agreement is fulfilled. (Torrington, 2008)

This research project will be based on a field, which is human resource. One of the topics which should be explored in reference to human resources is leadership style. In an effective leadership situation, the leader is a catalyst and servant whose leadership style is support, advocating and empowerment. While in an ineffective leadership situation, the leader is a pushover whose leadership style is abdication and fraud. Human Resource Leaders believe in people and communicate that belief; they are visible and accessible; they empower, increase participation, support, share information and move decision making down into the organization.

We recognize effective leaders when we work with them or observe them. However many different ways exist for defining who leaders are and when they are effective. Dictionaries define leading as “guiding and directing on a course”. A leader is someone with commanding authority or influence. Researchers have developed many working definitions of leadership. According to Nahavandi (2009) leader is a person who influence individuals and groups within an organization, helps them in establishing goals and guides them toward achievement of those goals, thereby allowing them to be effective. Leadership is a function more than a role. Good leaders are made not born.


Research Question is a statement that identifies the phenomenon to be studied.

The research question, which I am going to study is: How does the leadership style affect employees performance in the organisation? The research will be based on the case study, which is supermarket. Sainsbury’s Nine Elms is a place where I have been working for over 3 years. I have a contact with managers every day and what’s more I am familiar with different styles of leadership. This experience helps me to formulate the following hypothesis: positive and accurate leadership style motivates people to good and effective work. To find an answer on my research question and to confirm my hypothesis, I will do some qualitative research. This type of research is designed to tell the researcher how and why the things happen as they actually do. It helps to achieve an in-depth understanding of a situation.



Positive atmosphere in the work place is a very important factor and has a big influence on employees job. This is why the way how leaders and managers behave is so important. Unfortunately my long-time observations prove that managers very often do not even realize what kind of mistakes they do. They do not understand that their inappropriate way of behaviour, has an influence on people’s work and effectiveness of the organization. The aim of this report, based on literature review, is to describe the most valuable and effective leadership styles. Moreover the most negative styles will be considered, those which are not approved of by employees. Finally some interviews with Sainsbury’s Nine Elms employees will be made to gather their opinions and verify my hypothesis.



Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. Lewin (1939) led a group of researchers to identify different styles of leadership. This early study has been very influential and established three major leadership styles: autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire.

In the past several decades, there has been a significant revolution in how the leadership is defined by management experts. Their approach has changed from a classical one to a very innovative, democratic approach. Although it was also determined that some old ideas were still good whereas some of the new ones were not perfect. The key is to use different styles depending on each situation so leaders have to approach every case in a different way.


There are four primary leadership styles, many of them we can find within most businesses or organizations around the world. These styles are:





Each of the leadership styles has impact on employee performance in the company. There are short and long-term effects of each style. For instance, the authoritative style may produce great results in a short amount of time. However, excessive use of authority will decrease productivity in the long-term. People either get fed up and leave or fall into a malaise of hum-drum repetitive tasks without creativity and innovation. (Sadler, 2003)


The autocratic leadership style is very often regarded as an old fashioned technique. It was a very popular style among managers commanding subordinates and it is still used around the world. This style basically comes natural to many leaders and brings many benefits, thus many managers start to lead using this style and try to improve it when pursuing their own leadership development. This style is used when leaders inform their employees what they want done and how they want it attained, without being advised by their followers. Furthermore when leaders are short on time, they have all information needed to achieve a goal and employees are enthused, autocratic still is also common. Nevertheless it should be used occasionally and with big carefulness. Having a lot of time and dealing with highly motivated workers it is better to use democratic style.

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The democratic leadership style is also named the participative style due to the fact that it encourages one or more employees to be a part of the decision making process (determining what to do and how to do it). Nevertheless it is the leader who makes the final decision and maintains authority. Definitely this style strengthens the position of the leader which is respected by his employees. When information and data is divided between the leader and employees, democratic style is used very often. Managers are not expected to be familiar with everything, this is why they employ knowledgeable and competent employees. Concluding, using this style is of mutual benefit, because employees can become a part of the team and on the other hand leaders can make better decisions.


The laissez-faire leadership style is also known as the “hands-off¨ style. This style is based on making the decisions by employees whenever the leader let them. Even though, he is still responsible for all the decisions. This style is used usually when employees are able to decide what needs to be done and how. They also should have good analytical skills. Leaders only set most of the priorities for their team and divide tasks between employees. This style should be used only when leaders are confident about his people and trust them no matter what. It should not be used as a way of blaming employees of made mistakes.


The bureaucratic leadership follow the rules rigorously and guarantee that staff follows procedures accurately. In this kind of style everything must be done according to the rules or policy. This is a very appropriate style for work involving serious safety risks (such as working with heavy equipment, with toxic substances, or at dangerous heights) or where large sums of money are involved (such as handling cash). If manager is not capable of making decision on his own, he refers to the next level above him or her. The role of the leader is very similar to a police officer.


There are a number of different approaches or styles to leadership and management that are based on different assumptions and theories. The style that individuals use will be based on a combination of their beliefs, values and preferences, as well as the organizational culture and norms which will encourage some styles and discourage others.


A charismatic leadership style can seem similar to transformational leadership, because these leaders inspire lots of enthusiasm in their teams and are very energetic in driving others forward. However, charismatic leaders tend to believe more in themselves than in their teams. As a result this creates a risk that a project or even an entire organization might collapse if the leader leaves. In the eyes of the followers, success is directly connected to the presence of the charismatic leader. Therefore charismatic leadership carries great responsibility and requires a long-term commitment from the leader. It is interesting to watch a charismatic leader ‘working the room’ as they move from person to person. They pay much attention to the person they are talking to at a particular moment, so this person very often feels like a most important person in the world. Charismatic leaders focus as well on scanning and reading their environment and are also good at picking up the moods and concerns of both individuals and larger audiences. Then they will hone their actions and words to suit the situation. (Conger & Kanungo, 1998)


A Participative Leader, rather than taking autocratic decisions, seeks to involve other people in the process, possibly including subordinates, peers and superiors. However, managers are still very important, as they decide whether to give or deny control to their subordinates. Most participative activity can be observed within the immediate team. The question of how much independence others are given thus may vary on the manager’s preferences and inclinations. A whole spectrum of participation is possible, as in the table below.

< Not participative

Highly participative >

Autocratic decision by leader

Leader proposes decision, listens to feedback, then decides

Team proposes decision, leader has final decision

Joint decision with team as equals

Full delegation of decision to team

The level of participation may also depend on the type of decision being made. Decisions on how to accomplish goals may be highly participative, whereas decisions during subordinate performance evaluations are more likely to be taken by the manager


This style of leadership starts with the idea that team members agree to obey their leader completely when they accept a job. The term “transaction” means that usually the organization pays the team members in return for their hard effort and compliance. If they do not work as stated in the agreement, they might be “punished” by the leader. In this style rules are very clear and reward system is introduced for the hardest working subordinates. Moreover, punishments are also possible and formal systems of discipline are quite common. The leader can give an opportunity for his team members to have an impact on their income. It happens when they work harder which cause greater productivity. Alternatively, a transactional leader could practice “management by exception” – rather than rewarding better work. In fact transactional leadership is rather type of management than an actual leadership style. It focus basically on short-term task and is not suitable for a creative work.


People with this leadership style are true leaders who inspire their teams constantly with a shared vision of the future. While this leader’s enthusiasm is often passed onto the team they can be supported by “detail people.” That’s why, in many organizations, both transactional and transformational leadership are essential. The transactional leaders (or managers) ensure that routine work is done consistently, while the transformational leaders look after initiatives that add value. Working for a transformational leader can be a brilliant and uplifting experience. Whatever they do they put passion and energy into it. They care about team and want them to succeed. Transformational leaders also tend to see the big picture, but not the details. So if they do not have people to pay attention on this level of information, then they are usually doomed to fail. Finally, transformational leaders, by definition, seek to transform and develop. When the organization does not transform and nobody complain about his fact, then such a leader will be frustrated. Like wartime leaders, however, given the right situation they come into their own and can be personally responsible for saving entire companies. (Burns, 1978)

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Highly task-oriented leaders focus only on getting the job done, so as a result they can be quite autocratic. They actively define the work and the roles demanded, put structures in plan and place, then they organize it and finally monitor. However, there is a danger connected with this style, that it might suffer the same drawbacks as autocratic style. Leaders do not pay to much attention about their team members as they focus only on finishing the task.


This is the opposite of task-oriented leadership. In this style leaders are completely focused on organizing, supporting, and developing the people in their teams. It might be compared to a participative style as it has similar assumptions. Most valued are team cooperation and creativity. In practice, very often leaders tend to use both task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership.


This term was created by Robert Greenleaf, describes a leader who is often not formally recognized as such. He says that true leadership “emerges from those whose primary motivation is a deep desire to help others.” Servant leadership is a very moral position, putting the well-being of the followers before other goals. When someone, at any level within an organization, leads simply by meeting the needs of the team, he or she is described as a “servant leader”. In many ways, servant leadership is a form of democratic leadership, because the whole team tends to be involved in decision making. Supporters of the servant leadership model recommend it as an important way to move ahead in a world where values are increasingly important and where servant leaders achieve power on the basis of their values and ideals. Others state that in competitive leadership situations, people who practice servant leadership can find themselves left behind by leaders using other leadership styles. (Greenleaf, 1977)


J Sainsbury plc was founded in 1869 by John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury. Drury Lane was one of London’s poorest areas and the Sainsbury’s shop quickly became popular there for offering high-quality products at low prices. Today Sainsbury’s is the UK’s longest standing and third largest supermarket. Operates a total of 872 stores comprising 537 supermarkets and 335 convenience stores, as well as Sainsbury’s Bank. Sainsbury’s employs over 160 000 colleagues and serves over 19 million customers a week.

The store Sainsbury’s Nine Elms was open in February 1982 with 100 employee and 3 departments. Within almost 30 years the store has changed a lot. Today the store has 346 employees and 11 departments. Every department has its own department manager plus store manager and 3 DU store managers. Most of the managers are male, only 2 female and all of them between 26-45 years old. And every one of them represents different style of leadership. From very strict and autocratic through task oriented leadership till completely laissez-faire style.

Leadership style is very important in a company or a firm. This is because a leader’s job is to help everyone e.g. the leader can help workers in a company by training them to improve their skills at work. Leadership style inspires people to achieve demanding goods. Leadership explains many different approaches that can be taken to be an effective leader. Good leaders are made and not born. They develop themselves through a never ending process of self-study, education, training and experience.



There are two measure research methods: quantitative and qualitative. Some researcher prefers to take a quantitative approach to address their research question and design study that involves collecting quantitative data and analysing those using statistical methods. Other opportunity is qualitative method, which involves collecting qualitative data and analysing them by using interpretative methods. (Collis & Hussey, 2009)

For this project the most suitable method will be qualitative. Figure bellow shows, how the qualitative research and research process should goes.

Figure 1: Qualitative Research and Research Process (Cooper & Schindler, 2008)


According to Cooper and Schindler (2008) qualitative techniques are used at both the data collection and data analysis stages of a research project. This project will be based on primary data and inductive method. Three techniques will be used to collect the data: individual interview, case studies and research observation.


The interview is the primary data collection technique. They vary depending on the number of people involved during the interview, the level of structure, the proximity of the interviewer to the numbers of interviews conducted during the research. There are 3 ways of interviewing:

ƒ¼ unstructured interview- no specific questions or order of topic to be discussed.

ƒ¼ semi structured interview- starts with few specific questions and then additional questions are asked with reference to the answers from opening questions

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ƒ¼ structured interview- specific, detailed questions, normally with open-ending

Most of the qualitative research is made on unstructured or semi structured interview. It enables the interviewer to ask additional questions during the interview to gain more information. Many interviews are made face-to-face, which increase the quality of the interview. This kind of interview is more valuable than an interview by phone or online, because it allows the interviewer to observe nonverbal behaviour of the people.

It is very important for the interviewer to have at least a basic knowledge about making an interview. Knowing how to gains someone’s trust and how to encourage answering questions honestly is definitely significant. Usually the interviewer is responsible for generating the interview, questions or topic to be discussed and what the order should be. The figure bellow shows the hierarchical questioning structure.

Figure 2: The interview Question Hierarchy (Cooper & Schindler, 2008)

3. 2. 2 CASE STUDY

The case study (case history) is a very significant research methodology that includes individual and (sometimes) group interviews with record analysis and observation. Firstly researchers gain information from company brochures, annual reports, magazines and newspapers articles, and then together with direct observation, they finally combine it with interview data from members. The aim of this method is to obtain multiple perspectives of a single organisation. The case study should have a case which is the object of study. It should have the following characteristics: a complex functioning unit; investigated in its natural context with a multitude of methods and be a contemporary one.

Yin (1993) has identified some specific types of case studies:

Exploratory cases are sometimes considered as a prelude to social research.

Explanatory case studies may be used for doing causal investigations.

Descriptive cases require a descriptive theory to be developed before starting the project.

Stake (1995) included three others case studies, which are:

Intrinsic cases – when the researcher has an interest in the case.

Instrumental cases – when the case is used to understand more than what is obvious to the observer.

Collective cases – when a group of cases is studied.


Observation involves looking and listening very carefully. It is very common that people observe each other, although they do not look for anything particular and do not discover any reasonable information about their behaviour. It is possible to distinguish different relationship between observer and participant, view from three perspectives:

Directness of Observation



Direct observation, when the observer is physically present and personally monitors what takes place. In this kind of observation, it possible for the observer to respond to certain aspects of human behaviour as they occur, therefore this method is very flexible. Indirect observation, when the recording is done by mechanical, photographic or electronic means. In comparison to the direct observation, the indirect one is less flexible. But on the other hand permanent data can be reanalysed many times so many different aspects of an event can be included.

Another factor which affects relationship observer and participant is concealment. The question is, whether the observer should reveal himself. From the psychological point of view, it might be damaging (it has negative influence on the observation outcome) because people who know that are being observed, do not behave normally. On the other hand, hidden observation is a form of spying and the propriety of this action must be reviewed carefully. The best scenario is to reveal that people are being observed but the objectives and participant of interest are hidden.

The last type of relationship is based on the observer participation in the whole situation while observing. Participant observation often requires months or years of intensive work, due to the fact that researcher needs to become accepted as a natural part of the culture. By doing this it is most likely that the observation will be of the natural phenomenon.

Besides collecting data visually by observation, we can also use communication. The figure below describes the conditions under which observation is an appropriate method for data collection.

Figure 3: Selecting the Data Collection Method (Cooper & Schindler, 2008)

Before starting the observation, it is necessary to make a good plan. Helpful might be finding the answers for this few important questions:

WHO? Who do we want to observe? Does a person suit our criteria?

WHAT? What do we want to observe? What are we concerned about? What is the aim of our observation? How long or what period of time? How often (daily, few times a week)? How many hours?

WHEN? When do we want start our observation? Is there some specific period of time (for example Christmas time)?

HOW? Will the data be directly observed? How many people will be observe?

WHERE? Where does the observation take place? The location of the observation?


The research methodology of the present dissertation proposal is influenced and structured by the research process ‘onion’, which was developed and introduced by Saunders et al. (2003). The figure below illustrates the relationships between research philosophies, research methodologies, data collection methods, and more.

Figure 4: Research Process ‘ONION’


Concluding, so far in this report leadership styles has been explored and precisely described. The influence of each leadership style on the employees has been investigated as well. In the methodology part, qualitative method has been discussed which will be used for the research. It will be based on three different methods which are: interview, case study and observation. Case study of this report will be the place of my employment which is Sainsbury’s Supermarket which also has been briefly described.

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