Critical evaluation of Management ; Leadership practices

Management is defined as “the process of working with and through others to achieve organisational objectives in a changing environment” (Krietner 2001, p 5). Main purpose of management is to bring people under single roof for getting things done by them. Management is basically a combination of arts and science. It is an art because it is a personal activity and it is a science because it based on vast accumulation of knowledge which is an aid to manager in performing a job. Management mainly focuses on how to manage people, technology and money. Managers handle these to know their strength and weakness.

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Managers are responsible for decision making whether it is a long term or a short term decision. Managers take the initiative of executing the decisions with the help of top level management. Since manager do not work alone and the outcome does not depend on the individual performance, manager has different roles to play and they can be divided into three groups they are information roles, decision making and interpersonal roles (Mintzberg 1973). The top management role is decision making. Even though the decisions are made at all the levels of organisation senior officials make crucial decisions.

The consequences of their decisions may increase the productivity, increase the market share and sometime decisions might have the opposite consequences also. Traditional approach to management is mainly concerned with the improvement of the management. These approaches were made to increase the productivity from individuals. The major contribution to this approach was from F. W Taylor (1856-1917). He is called the “father of scientific management” (L. J. Mullins 2005, p 69). Taylor believed that each individual has his own style of working just as there is a best machine for a particular job.

Another approach was from Henry Fayol (1916). This theory mainly concentrated on managers. Since he was a manger he attempted to translate his experiences into practical ones. By doing this he believed that it would provide guidelines for a successful management. Fayol divided manager’s jobs into five different functions they are planning, organising, command, coordination and control. Conflict or crisis in management is the one which covers all aspects of human life. If an organisation has to function smoothly it has to ensure that conflict or the dispute is settled quickly.

If the conflict persists for a longer period it may lead to more misunderstanding and it has all the possibilities to hamper the progress of the organisation. Aldi is one of the leading supermarket in U. K maintaining a good reputation and it has been one of the top retailer since it was found. This is all because of their management style that they have been following since decades. In Aldi they follow a traditional approach that is they are always with positive attitude and always give their best. They even strive hard to succeed the goals of the organisation.

By doing this they feel that they can compete with other retailers in U. K. And regarding the decision making, manager has the power of controlling the store. A set of rules and regulations are framed which has to be followed by the subordinates for the smooth functioning of the organisation. The staffs are made aware of the jobs which have to be performed on that particular day and also guide them how to perform these jobs efficiently. And they are also well aware of the time taken to perform a particular work and they do it as per schedule. Customer satisfaction is the main area where every organisation concentrates on.

Employees know the customer requirements, if the customers are not satisfied with the service provided and are irritated, employees try to be as polite as possible to them and help them in solving their problem. If the employees are finding it difficult to handle the customer or to convince them they get help from the manager. Aldi employees are trained in such a way that if there is a conflict or any dispute in the organisation they try to solve it by themselves and if the misunderstanding still persists manager takes the initiative to sort out the issues between the employees.

Management is getting things done through other people in order to achieve the set organisational goals, whereas leadership is concerned more with attention to communicating, along with motivation and involvement of people. Leadership emphasises on interpersonal behaviour. However management and leadership are inextricably linked (Mullins, 2005) Now we will consider the definition of leadership, traits to be an effective leader, leadership style in Aldi and then the general issues in leadership.

We can define leadership as ” the moral and intellectual ability to visualize and work for what is best for the company and its employees”(Lord Sieff). Thus leadership is the process of influencing and inspiring people to work hard to accomplish important tasks and achieve goals. Leadership is important as it is the leaders in the organization who make things happen, it is also important to keep people motivated and reduce employee dissatisfaction (Mullins,2005), leadership is the key to large-scale improvement.

Effective leadership lies in the way the manager uses his power to influence the behaviour of others, effective leadership must have cognitive, interpersonal and political skills, management skills and expertise (Yukl,2006). Leaders must also be able to envision, organize, socially integrate, and externally span to ensure that his team is effective and efficient in achieving goals, maintaining team cohesion, and keeping the decisions compatible with the organization’s needs.

Leadership must be able share this complex monitoring with his employees/teams in order to track information on trends and developments (Yukl, 2006). Leadership should be able to also develop strategic plans to address the organization’s requirements by considering long-term objectives, the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, core competencies, current and new strategies, and outcomes of these strategies (Yukl, 2006). The manager of Aldi plays various roles, one such interpersonal role that he plays is as a team leader in the store.

As a leader the manager will and continue to his maximum ability to foster the best out of his group and encourage each individual to have a voice and an opinion. The manager who also plays the role of a leader builds commitment and enthusiasm needed for people to apply their talent fully to accomplish plans. Learning about the employee’s families, individual goals, likes, dislikes and pretty much everything in between about the employees personally will help gain trust and respect which is the main essence to sustain leadership.

Traits that are associated with leadership are drive, desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, job relevant knowledge(Robbins, 2002). The manager of Aldi possesses a few traits such as being honest with his subordinates, being competent, forward looking, inspiring and being credible (Stewart, 1963), these traits have made him an effective leader. A few personal traits that were evident in the manager were motivation to do a good job, the drive to achieve the targets and flexibility has had an additional effect to his successful leadership (Trait-spotting)(Ralph Stogdill,1974).

Leadership style is the recurring pattern of behaviour exhibited by a leader (Robbins,2002). Generally at the management level Autocratic style of leadership would be followed whereas at the managerial level Democratic/Participative style of leadership is followed. In Aldi Democratic style (Likerts leadership systems) of leadership is followed. This is because the manager has high concern for both people and tasks.

Democratic leadership contributes to both quantity and quality of work for long periods of time. The manager shares the decision with the work group, encourages employees to be a part of decision making, supports the work effort of all, this inculcates trust within the employees and they respond with co-operation, team spirit and high morale leading to high subordinate satisfaction level,(this relates to the relaxed leadership followed by the manager of Aldi).

A Democratic manager keeps his employees informed about everything that affects their work and in this style of leadership the manager also requires to be a coach who has the final say but taking into account the peers opinion (www. essortment. com) “When and under what circumstances a particular leadership style is preferred is the basic essence of contingency approach” (Schermerhorn,2001). We can relate Democratic style with the Path-Goal model by Robert House (Schermerhorn,2001) of the contingency approach.

According to this model the leader assists his subordinates in achieving their goals and directs them, in order to ensure that their goals are compatible with the objectives of the organization(Robbins,2002). Transformational leadership style “induces the employees to transcend their own self interest for the sake of the organization or team, as well as activating their higher order needs”(Yukl,2006).

This type of leadership is quite evident in Aldi since the manager strives towards mentoring the employees to be more efficient, developing positive attitude and working hard to embrace success. These qualities also define the personality of Aldi. In Aldi the nominal interaction between the manager and the subordinates is done on a daily basis through phone calls and weekly personal visits to emphasize the four leadership behaviors. The artifacts and norms of the employees are achievement-oriented through regular performance reviews, discussion of matters and constant communication of goals.

According to Leithwood(1990) the effect of transformational leadership is “uniformly positive”, this style is best suited to continually increase the morale and motivation of employees(Kevin,2006). Aldi does not rely on the extensive use of power but sometimes power is essential for executive success (Schermerhorn,2001). Aldi manager uses reward power (Schermerhorn,2001), some of the incentives provided for good performer are more pay for employees who perform well and opportunities for promotion.

Common issues evident in leadership are in the use of power to influence work actions and other decisions, in building credibility and trust(which can be done by practicing openness, being fair, speaking out, speaking the truth, keeping promises), in empowering employees, gender differences in leadership, embarrassing individuals in public, altruistic motivation and difference in opinion(Robbins2002,). In Aldi, since the size of the staff is kept minimal there are no conflicts or issues experienced regarding leadership.