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Exam tips

Leadership and management styles - exam tips


Always try to think about examples of each and be prepared to discuss WHY you would favour one style as against another. Also, be prepared to accept that just one style may not suit a company and that a mixture might be the best decision.

Think WHAT it is that affects the style of leadership adopted by a firm. It might be influenced by:

  • The corporate culture of the business
  • The type of task being undertaken
  • What skills are available to you and also the type of labour that needs to be led
  • The skills and personality of the appointed leader
  • The management structure and the span of control
  • What is needed to be done and what others would like to be done - they are often NOT the same.

Always look at the TASK being undertaken, remember leaders are not there to be popular. Study the case material to understand the PERSONALITY of the leader and see how long they have been with the firm. Always be aware of the owner-founder, or newly arrived university graduate - they tend to have styles that might not be greatly admired by some members of the workforce.

Exam skills

When ANALYSING you will be asked to apply a certain style to a particular situation. Look out for a clash of personalities or company cultures (say after a takeover or merger). Look at the NATURE of the market in which the business operates. Creative people seldom like authoritative leadership, whilst a more repetitive task might require more stick than carrot.

When EVALUATING remember what we said earlier and note that most styles are both original and somewhat organic. They seldom fit one classification precisely, some alterations have been made - so you need to say WHY. Also, look for CONSTRAINTS, both internal and external. Examiners often make things more complicated. Again you will need to say WHY and WHAT you would do about it. Again look at TASKS, PERSONALITIES and the changes that take place over TIME.

As we have said before always be aware of opportunities to LINK. Seldom is leadership mentioned without motivation, communication and human resource management being in there somewhere as well.

Please do not suggest that the leader should change their personality and go from being autocratic to democratic - it will NOT happen.