How leadership and management styles impact significantly on SME’s

Now more than ever, we need to understand the impact of leadership and management on the workforce.  UK productivity has dropped from the second fastest in the G7 to the second slowest. (Source: UK Commission for Employment and Skills)

£19 billion is the cost of poor management and leadership to the UK economy through lower productivity. (Source: Skills First: Connecting employers, further education and training providers -Department of Business, Innovation and Skills)

Sir Charlie Mayfield states, “Boosting British productivity is important for society as well as business, and strong leadership is vital if changes are to succeed.

Research carried out by a team at Bath University (Source: CIPD) showed that employees who feel positive about having a rapport with their managers tend to have more job satisfaction, loyalty, and dedication.  This created higher performance and employees who went beyond the needs of the job.

Leadership and Management styles are the way you exert your influence in the working environment to ensure goals are met.  From how you plan and manage work, to how you build relationships with your team members and co-workers is part of styles.  The important factors of leadership and management styles are the attitudes and behaviours you demonstrate, from body language, the tone and words used, to your conduct and behaviour.

Understanding your Leadership style can be a daunting process.  But to make the difference to others you need to understand how you come across to others and this is not just in the good times but also in changing times and then work out what you need to adapt.

Initial research carried out in the 1950s by Rensis Likert identified four styles:

  • exploitative/authoritative– very little trust or confidence in their employees, manages through the issuing of orders and uses fear and retribution as the motivators
  • benevolent/authoritative– has some trust but treats the employees in a patronising and protective manner
  • consultative– shows trust and assurance towards the employees, asks their thoughts and ideas, but keeps overall decision-making power
  • participative– trust completely, looks for and uses the employee ideas and involves them in establishing goals

There are now many Leadership style models which explore the different leadership styles.  These range from Action-centred leadership, Transactional leadership, Situation leadership and much more, and they are worth reading up to give you more insight.

Think back to the times you have been managed.  What worked well and what didn’t? 

We all have horror stories that are always useful for remembering what not to do. 

What is seen is that high-performing teams thrive on inclusive leaders by involving the teams by listening to their ideas, keeping the team in the loop and creating a fun environment. 

The leader is always very self-aware and has spent time understanding themselves and their impact on others. Recent experiences have highlighted leaders who are not aware of how they come across to people – through their short, sharp answers to employees, their clear inability to listen to employees properly, demonstrated by their body language and the acknowledgment of the concerns creating real issues in the workplace with performance failing in the workplace. 

Worryingly, this behaviour is then picked up by managers within the business area and is seen as the norm.

Ask yourself how you like to work. What inspires you? What’s your communication style?  Consider undertaking a diagnostic questionnaire to gain strong insights into your style.  Ask colleagues for feedback as they may have a different insight. 

Consider where things have gone well or wrong and reflect on whether your behaviour and attitude affected the outcome. Use the information to rationalise what you need to adapt to get the best for your business. 

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? 

Consider the areas you need to improve your skills, including adjusting to the team you are leading.  Look at the business culture – does this need to evolve, or do you need to change your positioning? 

Regularly evaluate and look at your style. 

There is always a need to be open and honest with yourself and be willing to adapt subject to circumstances.  Not one Leadership style is right.

And remember, as a Leader and Manager:

  • Be authentic, and don’t copy others
  • Understand the culture in your business
  • Don’t have only one Leadership and Management style – you need to adapt and change as needed
  • To listen to what your employees and colleagues are telling you
  • To continue to develop and grow as a Leader

Good luck with understanding your leadership and management style.

Take care


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