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Management Case Study: Dgl International

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Management – Assignment 2 – Case Study

DGL International


The case study of DGL International involves John Terrill’s appointment as manager of the technical services division; a department of engineers held in high regard by the organisation however possess the lowest rate of productivity. Terrill was hired to resolve the unusual problem and get the department up and running again with high productivity. Using a democratic leadership approach Terrill called a meeting with all engineers concerned and asked “What’s the problem? Why can’t we produce?” (Case Study). Taking a participative stance with the situation Terrill built rapport with the engineers and executed a plan in which to show the top-level managers why the division has been so unproductive; an unnecessary procedure put in place by the CEO’s themselves. Although the final outcome of Terrill’s resolve is not revealed.

Question 1:

An early study of leadership behaviour conducted by Kurt Lewin and his colleagues at the University of Iowa explored the different behavioural styles of leadership, the three most common or valued styles being autocratic, democratic and laissez-faire (Robbins, DeCenzo, Coulter, Woods 2012).

An autocratic type of leader is described as someone who generally centralises authority; enabling only top-level managers to make organisational decisions, limits employee interaction and participation and tends to command work orders rather than delegate accordingly. Opposed is the democratic style of leading; usually this type of leader involves employees in the decision making process and empowers them with authority, they also provide frequent feedback on behaviour and completed tasks as a way of training. A democratic leader is more participative with employees, which could lead them to feel more valued in comparison to an autocratic style of leading. The third style laissez-faire is slightly controversial in comparison to the aforementioned styles, giving employees total freedom to complete their tasks however they wish, the leader acting merely as a guide.

Terrill’s style of leading the technical services staff would be considered democratic. Kippenberger (2002) also describes a democratic leader as someone who shows “complete confidence and trust is displayed and the sub-ordinate’s views and opinions are not only sought but often acted upon”. Evidence of this is visible as upon being assigned manager of the division Terrill called a meeting purely to listen to the employee’s thoughts before he had taking any action at all. Terrill ensured all staff concerned were participating in the discussion and assured them he would not comprise the work they were already completing, promising ‘My job is to stay out of your way… and try to keep the top managers off your backs... ” (Case Study).

This situation does have similarities to a laissez-faire style of leading, in the sense that Terrill was confident in how the engineers were working and wanted them to continue doing whatever they were doing. However had Terrill completely adopted a laissez-faire approach the engineers would have taken it upon themselves to cease any report writing all together and focused on engineering matters only. The more democratic approach Terrill used confirmed he was still in control of the division however made the engineers aware he was taking their concerns on-board and would create a plan of action shortly.

Power is said to refer “to an individual’s capacity to influence (other people’s) decisions” (Robbins et al, 2012). It was fundamental work of John French and Bertram Raven who compiled five sources of power used by leaders in order to influence followers (Lunenburg, 2012). The term ‘power’ can sometimes be mistaken for authority, however as French and Raven noted the two are not always interchangeable and different levels of power can be identified within different job roles and people. The five sources have been identified as coercive, reward, legitimate, expert and referent. They should not be thought of as separate entities that stand alone, it is common for leaders and managers to yield more than one in and in different combinations in order to influence people (Lunenburg, 2012).

This paper would infer Terrill’s main source of power was legitimate power however his confidence and gung-ho approach to resolving DGL International’s problem would suggest the use of expertise power also. Legitimate power is one person’s ability to influence the decisions of others due to the position they hold within the organisation. Legitimate power though is also dependant on the followers within the situation. As noted within the Hersey and Blanchard

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