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Leadership and Management in the 20th Century

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“How management manages and leads employees has changed dramatically over preceding decades and will continue to evolve in the future”


Every manager is different in their approach to managing staff and in modern day society leadership is becoming a more vital aspect of management. The business sector in today’s society is increasing rapidly, and with this increase comes the need for more people to manage and lead the growing companies.

This essay will embark on the evolution of management and leadership in previous decades and future changes.

Before divulging in this topic of conversation we must firstly distinguish between what exactly is a manager and also a leader.

With regards the differencing of the two words – the word manage means to handle, where as the word lead means to go. Similarly as the two words have different definitions, they also have different purposes.

Some examples as quoted by experts in the field of such studies are listed below:

“Management is usually viewed as getting things done through other people in order to achieve stated organisational objectives.”

“The emphasis on leadership is on interpersonal skills in a broader context. It is often associated with the willing and enthusiastic behaviour of followers. Leadership can be seen primarily as an inspirational process.”

Mullins, 1996

“You can be appointed a Manager, but you’re not a leader until your appointment has been ratified in the hearts and minds of those who work for
you” John Adair

As it is known many managers share similar characteristics that fit into a broad management or leadership style.

This is the basis for our research and this presentation on changes in managements.

We will attempt to reference the two and form a case study.

Functions of a Manager:

The four basic functions of management are:

* Planning

* Organizing

* Leading

* Controlling

All four functions are equally crucial to the success of organisations in modern day society. Because all four functions can be performed in a variety of ways, management must select the most appropriate combination of methods for their respective organizations.

Leadership and Management Styles:

We must define some leadership and management styles here so as we can relate the differing styles to each of the mentioned decades. There are many different types but we will just define the basic four for this example.

Autocratic. Autocratic managers believe that the leader (manager) should tell all the employees what to do and how to do it (like a dictatorship). There is no scope for feedback from the employees with this style so the manager will not be able to find out if there is a problem. This method can be very good if there is a very strong manager, but if there isn’t then there can be some problems with it. The advantages of this style are that decisions are made very quickly, which can be very important if something critical happens. The disadvantage is that employee motivation and confidence can suffer if they have no say in what happens for the company.

Democratic. In a democratic leadership the manager will discuss with the employees what the company should do, and involves them in the decision-making, although the final choice rests with the manager still. This method can be very good as there is quite a lot of input from all the different departments in the organization. The advantage to this style is that the employees will be motivated more due to them having more control with the company. The disadvantage with this style is that it can be very time consuming meaning a wait if an important decision needs to be made.

Laissez-faire. In a laissez-faire leadership the manager has very little direct input with what the company does. The manager will decide the overall goals and objectives for the company and then let the employees get on with it. The manager will let the employees make most of the decisions and let them decide how to get the tasks done. The advantage with this style is that the employees will be highly motivated as they are given a lot of power. The disadvantage is that some employees will take advantage of the manager and not do any work at all.

Paternalistic. In a paternalistic leadership the manager will try and guide the employees towards their goals. The manager tries to take on a “fatherly” role for the employees and makes all the decisions for them in a “I know best” way. The advantage to this style is that the decisions will be made quickly for the company. The disadvantage is that the employees can feel unmotivated as it can be very patronizing for them and as they get very little input.

We will begin our journey of management and leadership changes from the turn of the 1900 century when things we a vastly differing from the styles of management and leadership that is practiced today.


* CLASSICAL (1880-1927)

* CONTEMPORARY (1930-1962)

* POSTMODERN (1965 – present)

Management in the 1900’s

Scientific Management Period (1890-1940)

At the turn of the century, the most notable organizations were large and industrialized. This was after all in the midst of the industrial revolution. The military and church were two very important organisations in this era and the structure of these organisations became foremost the most notable structure in these times. This proved to be the emphasis for more hierarchy and roles in the management and leadership of organisations.

In this period the role of the manager changed to a more professional figure, not seen as an owner-manager but more of a professional manager of new methods and enterprises.

Workers were either rewarded or punished by managers in this era. There was careful measurement and specification of activities and results. Work was redesigned by managers to suit greater efficiency or optimum performance. Managers had the power to promote or demote workers with the new structured model of management. Managers also had to teach workers on new methods and practises.

Some of the theorists that have contributed to the practises in this era are Fredrick W. Taylor, The Gilbreths, Henry Gantt and Harrington Emerson. With the theories inherited from these people managers in this period took for granted that workers would submit without question to standardization of physical movements and thought processes. Their system, however, ignored human feelings and motivations, leaving the worker dissatisfied with the job.

Management in the 1920’s

Bureaucratic Management Theory

Max Weber embellished the scientific management theory with his bureaucratic theory. Weber focused on dividing organizations into hierarchies, establishing strong lines of authority and control. He suggested organizations develop comprehensive and detailed standard operating procedures for all routinized tasks. His ideas had 7 main aspects:

His ideal bureaucracy had seven essential characteristics.

1. A system of rules and procedures

2. A division of labor

3. A hierarchy of authority

4. Selection and promotion of members are based on technical competence and training.

5. Employees, especially managers, should not share in the ownership of the organization. This separation of ownership assures that the decisions are made in the best interest of the organization rather than the personal interests of the employee.

6. The rights and control of the position assures that the property associated with the position belongs to the organization, and not to the person who holds the office.

7. All administrative decisions, rules, and actions are detailed in writing. This documentation provides a continuous record of the activities of the organization.


According to the universal process approach the administration of all organizations, public or private or large or small, requires the same rational process. The universalist approach was based on two main assumptions. First a core management process remains the same across all organizations. Successful managers, therefore, are interchangeable among organizations of differing purposes. Second, the universal management process can be reduced to a set of separate functions and related principles. Early universal process writers emphasized the specialization of labor (who does what), the chain of command (who reports to whom), and authority (who is ultimately responsible for getting things done).

Henri Fayol’s Universal Management Process.

Henri Fayol published his classic book, Administration Industrielle et Générale, in 1916. It was not translated into English until 1949.

Fayol’s work has had a permanent impact on management thinking, and today he is considered the father of the universal process approach.

Fayol divided the manager’s job into five functions.

* Planning.

* Organising.

* Command.

* Coordination.

* Control.

He also listed fourteen universal principles of management These principles are:

* Division of work.

* Authority.

* Discipline.

* Unity of command.

* Unity of direction.

* Subordination of individual interests to the general interest.

* Remuneration.

* Centralisation.

* Scalar chain.

* Order.

* Equity.

* Stability and tenure of personnel.

* Initiative.

* Esprit de corps.

These functions and principles still stand because of their widespread applicability

Management in the 1930’s

Human Relations Movement

The human relations movement was a concerted effort among theorists and practitioners to make managers more sensitive to their employees’ needs.

It was supported by three very different historic influences:

Threat of Unionisation:

The movement was a union-avoidance tactic, under the idea that satisfied employees would be less likely to join unions.

The Hawthorne Studies:

The Hawthorne studies were held at Western Electric and sponsored by General Electric. Elton Mayo and his colleagues controlled the lighting in one room of workers but not in another. When the illumination was increased in the experimental group, productivity increased in both groups. The increase in productivity was attributed to the fact that the workers were having extra attention paid to them. Practical behavioural research studies such as these made management aware of the psychological and sociological dynamics of the workplace.

The Philosophy of Industrial Humanism:

A recognition that people were important to productivity. There were three primary proponents:

* Elton Mayo focused on emotional and cultural factors. He encouraged work that fostered personal and subjective satisfaction.

* Mary Parker Follett encouraged managers to motivate performance rather than demand it. Cooperation, a spirit of unity, and self-control were keys to productivity.

* Douglas McGregor created the Theory X/Y philosophy, with Theory X as the traditional assumptions and Theory Y stating employees are energetic and creative if given the opportunity.

Theory X ,Theory Y

Most people dislike work and they avoid it when they can

Work in a natural activity like play or rest

Most people must be coerced and threatened with punishment before they work. They require close direction

People are capable of self direction and self control if they are committed to objectives.

Most people prefer to be directed. They avoid responsibility and have little ambition. They are interested only in security

People become committed to organisational objectives if they are rewarded in doing so

The average person can learn to both accept and seek responsibility

Many people in the general population have imagination, ingenuity and creativity.

Management in the 1940’s


Much of the management in this period inherited motivation methods and this was implemented after the production of a series of investigations as knows as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Overall this period of management would be known as the motivational period.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow carried out his investigations into human behavior between 1939 and 1943. Maslow suggested that there are five sets of goals which may be called basic needs.

If motivation is driven by the existence of unsatisfied needs, then it is worthwhile for a manager to understand which needs are the more important for individual employees. In this regard, Abraham Maslow developed a model in which basic, low-level needs such as physiological requirements and safety must be satisfied before higher-level needs such as self-fulfillment are pursued. In this hierarchical model, when a need is mostly satisfied it no longer motivates and the next higher need takes its place. These investigations greatly influenced the operations of managements.

Below is the structure of Maslows Hierarchy of needs:

Management in the 1960’s

Management by Objectives

The 60’s to the 80’s would have been the management stage of MBO which is short for Management by Objectives. This Management practise relies on the defining of objectives for each employee and then comparing and directing their performance against the objectives which have been set. It aims to increase organizational performance by aligning goals and subordinate objectives throughout the organization. Ideally, employees get strong input to identifying their objectives, time lines for completion, etc. MBO includes ongoing tracking and feedback in the process to reach objectives.

Pater Drucker was the phjilosopher behinid this theory. According to Drucker managers should avoid ‘the activity trap’, getting so involved in their day to day activities that they forget their main purpose or objective. One of the concepts of MBO was that instead of just a few top-managers, all managers of a firm should participate in the strategic planning process, in order to improve the implementability of the plan. Another concept of MBO was that managers should implement a range of performance systems, designed to help the organization stay on the right track. Clearly, Management by Objectives can thus be seen as a predecessor of Value Based Management!

MBO principles are:

* Cascading of organizational goals and objectives,

* Specific objectives for each member,

* Participative decision making,

* Explicit time period, and

* Performance evaluation and feedback.

Management in the 1980’s

Management began to change greatly in the 80’s. Many new theories were being incorporated into the workplace based on combining ideas and methods from other periods. Some of the management’s practises were inherited in this decade by the following:

Populist approaches –

This approach was developed by Kenneth Blanchard. He titled his work “The One Minute Manager” and his views were a simplistic and some might argue different view of what management is all about. Nevertheless this approach proved popular in this decade by crystallising and focussing thoughts in key management areas and for many became the watchword for their management style. It was seen as a way of managing valuable management time, becoming more effective and was simple to implement. The

Popularist approach is not a good management style and populist theories soon revealed their lack of structural integrity and depth.

Management in the 1990’s

The 1990s brought the practise of Empowerment into the workplace and allowed managers to place more trust and loyalty into their staff. It is about authorizing employees to do their work without the need to seek approval from supervisors. Implicit in this is local decision making, high levels of trust and collaboration and the development of a decentralized management philosophy. Empowerment forces decision making and responsibility to the lowest level sponsoring tactical agility and many legacy benefits, yet it remains one of the largest management challenges in modern

times. Few managers are secure enough in their own profession and in their own minds to practice empowerment beyond the rhetoric.

Modern Day Management

In today’s ever changing world, management is dynamically challenged by a vast number of external, as well as, internal forces. The shrinking of a qualified workforce, globalization, technological advances, and political tides only but scratch the surface of these challenges faced by modern day management. Gone are the days of the thirty year employee. Businesses of today must continually redefine new and creative ways to increase their organizations flexibility, in order to adapt to today’s fluid and ever changing world economy. The internet has forever changed the way that people communicate. Gone too are the days of social irresponsibility in regards to the environment.

Management today can be seen as consisting of the following six subcategories:

* Human resource management

* Operations or production management

* Strategic management

* Marketing management

* Financial Management

* Information Technology management

Managers today still use empowerment as the main practise or method and must adapt to changes. They are ore professional in general and we no longer have dictatorships in succcessfull global companies. Managers are in general more competent and suited for their jobs.

Management and Leadership in the future

In the 21st century we will find it increasingly difficult to think in terms of the six categories of management as mentioned in the above paragraph. More and more processes simultaneously involve several categories to which managers must adapt.

Technology, e-commerce, expanding markets, and growing customer demands for quality and service are challenging organizations. To flourish, managers need to explore broader skills and competencies to be successful. Knowing how to collaborate and negotiate effective partnerships is one of these skills. Collaboration lets you share responsibility and combine the knowledge, creativity, and experience of others. These benefits are significant when you take on a new role or you partner with individuals and groups inside and outside the company.

I believe that along with flexibility the most important skill in the future of management is leading by example. As organizations face new challenges, all managers are expected to be a leader. Being a good leader means setting a good example. Modelling the kind of behaviour you want to see in others is the surest way to influence them in this day of a democratic society. By actively honouring commitments, admitting your mistakes, and staying receptive to new ideas managers will motivate others to do the same. These are all changes that will contribute to management’s changes in the next decade. For a rapidly changing life full of new laws, mixed culture and diversity then flexibility and the ability to lead will see new managers being more competent. I feel there are no new theories that can really be devised to structure these changes because of such a varying degree of organisations and companies. I think all managers will have a blend and mix from all the past decades management traits.


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