Leading modules


Module 2 “Am I a leader?” – Leadership skills

Unit 2: Leadership styles
Bureaucratic Leadership

According to the business dictionary, bureaucratic leadership is a style of leadership that emphasizes procedures and historical methods regardless of their usefulness in changing environments. In general, it can be said, that bureaucratic leaders try to solve problems by adding layers of control. Their power comes from controlling the flow of information.

This leadership style has been first mentioned by Max Weber towards the end of the 19th century. It is a management line, in which team members, employees are made to follow specific rules and regulations created by their superiors. It is well used while there is no need for creative and inspirational work from the teams’ side, but they “obey” the leader’s directives and assumptions.

bureaucratic leadership

As it can be deducted from its name, bureaucratic leadership style focuses on the administrative needs an organization or enterprise might have. It is mostly used by the public sector, where certain rules and regulations need to be applied, without considering or giving the freedom to team members to have their say. Its advantage is though, that this leadership style can be followed with ease, is quite predictable and team members, followers know exactly what is expected from them.

Nevertheless, in cases where it comes to forwarding enterprises and companies, maybe to develop them even to multinational entities, this type of leadership can come handy and can be applied with success. Below you’ll find a few examples, of famous leaders you might have heard about, who used the bureaucratic leadership style:

1. Harold Sydney Geneen – ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation)
2. Winston Churchill – former British prime minister
3. Collin Powell – former US Secretary of State

As you can see, this leadership style has been rather used by men who were had strong personalities, and managed to achieve big things in the course of history.

On the other hand, it is also important to mention the disadvantages of this leadership style, which can be grouped under 3 main ideas:

1. Increasing Productivity can be a significant challenge while using Bureaucratic Leadership style.
2. Bureaucratic Leadership is Not an Efficient System to produce business growth.
3. Bureaucratic Leaders Find it Difficult to Adjust to Change.

bureaucratic leadership

As a result of the above mentioned, it can said, that Bureaucratic Leadership is best used while consistency is an important aspect. Rules and regulations are applied by these leaders and should be strictly followed by team members. In the same time, changes are not welcome within this leadership style, as are difficult to implement. As a result, employees/team members might be experts in some work phases but have no knowledge in other fields. This can hold back positive development of the organizations where creativity and innovation are important.