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James Myers
Leadership 600VA
Case Study # 2: 5-2 The Autocratic Manager
1. Why do you think the autocratic approach worked effectively for four years in this
situation?
Given the low level of production at the mill prior to the arrival of the current plant manager, any
changes made in the style of management, was likely to raise production, even if on hope alone.
The manager was described as being a dynamic person who managed using an autocratic style.
The immediate success of the plant manager likely prevailed because he created positive energy
within the plant by making changes and instituting new ideas. When production is down and
moral is low, it takes a toll almost everyone within an organization and therefore any change seen
as possibly beneficial is welcomed.
The plant managers autocratic approach worked effectively for four years simply because the
workers desired a change at the time of his arrival, he inspired hope through his new outlook and
dynamic personality, and it took time for the effects of his management style to take its toll on
every level of the organization. Understanding that autocratic management creates a very rigid
environment where tasks are delegated in a very specific manner, the plant manager failed to
empower his employees and thus productivity fell as the romance of leadership faded.
Considering the fact that the plant manager did raise productivity levels for a period of four years
through a change in organizational management style, can he do it again by switching
management styles to influence organizational change?
2. Diagnose the problems and/or issues facing this mill.
While the case provides limited information, there are a number of issues facing the mill. The
most critical issue currently facing the mill revolves around its centralized structure (p. 109). The
plant managers autocratic style lends itself to make most of the plants important decisions.
While this works in the short term due to the plant managers legitimate power (p. 132), it fails
long term because it stifles creativity and individual growth. Given the background of the mill
and its performance gaps, the mill would likely benefit from decentralization (p. 109) due to it
being a union shop.
Second, there is a serious regarding empowerment or the lack thereof within the mill. Given the
centralized nature of the organization and the plant managers autocratic style, there is little room
for the managers at the various levels to make broad decisions that directly affect those below
them. Over time, this has become frustrating for many of the managers given their high level of

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education. President Ronald Reagan once said Surround yourself with the best people you can
find, delegate authority and dont interfere. It would seem to me that the plant manager should
use these words for advice.
Third, looking at the organization chart, it is readily apparent that the mill has too many layers of
management. There are few organizations that succeed when there are either too many cooks in
the kitchen or too many chiefs and not enough Indians. This situation is not much different
and may in fact be worse considering that supervisors on the same level have different decision
making authority. Couple this with the fact that there is also likely an issue with the
organizational span of control. Based upon the interviews conducted, it is apparent that there is
little regard for chain of command as upper management routinely goes around middle
management to deal directly with employees. This not only absolves the authority of middle
management, but leads to conflict within the organization due to conflicting orders, goals or
agendas. Subscribing to the Acceptance Theory of Authority (p 138), in order for a supervisor
to be effective, the employees supervised must accept the supervisors authority.
Lastly, I believe there is a serious lack of communication in the mill. Opposite ends of the
organizational chart are blaming each other for plant issues and no one is effectively
communicating up or down. The vast majority of the communications occurring appear to be
negative and there is no reinforcement of decisions made by middle management. The
atmosphere within the mill has been described as one of fault-finding. When this occurs, it can
be fatal given that no one is seeking solutions to the organizations problems; instead they are too
busy pointing fingers.
3. (B) Develop a set of recommendations that you or your consulting team will present to the
mill manager. Include suggestions regarding his leadership style.
1) Seek organizational restructuring through decentralization. While the current centralized
organizational structure worked well in the past, it is readily apparent that it is time for a
change. The current organizational structure has too many layers, which appears to have
caused both confusion and negatively impacted performance.
Recommendation: Through decentralization, the organization will benefit by delegating
authority from one level to another. This will allow lower levels of management to make
broader, more important decisions involving their people.
2) The organizational structure and style of management currently in place is very stifling. It
has created issues related to both empowerment and delegation. Based upon the
organizational background and employee interviews, it is known that there are a number
of highly educated individuals within the organization, many which are seasoned
engineers with specialized experience. The current environment does not reward
creativity, does not solicit feedback and does not recognize individual or team efforts.
The common theme present in the interviews conducted was that employees are always

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criticized for organizational problems. Research has shown that employees who feel that
they are empowered to make decisions and solve issues on their own, take up less
management time and resources than their counterparts (p. 149).
Recommendation: Design and implement an organizational structure/environment that
delegates authority empowers employees and encourages creativity.
3) Create clarity in regards to supervisors span of control within the organization. The
employee interviews clearly indicated that there was confusion among the inherent
authority of some supervisors and their respective roles within the organization. A
broken chain of command essentially chops off the legs of the supervisors caught in the
middle, taking away their authority and causing conflict between the ranks. The chain of
command and the respective authority granted to those individuals must be clearly
defined. Boundaries related to job specific functions should also be addressed as this will
help to clarify accountability and authority within the organization.
Recommendation: While developing a new organizational structure, the roles and
responsibilities of the positions within the chart should be identified.
4) Change is never easy; however change is even harder for an organization when there is a
lack of communication. Again, going back to the employee interviews it is known that the
organization has a problem with communication. The changes that are going to be made
need to not only be communicated, the reasons for the change need to be explained. The
organization might consider the use of multiple communication methods to drive home
the concept that you want your employees to be informed and to be involved.
Recommendation: Develop an organizational communication strategy going forward.
The strategy should have the ability to deliver information in a consistent, effective
and efficient manner. While communicating, focus on the positive contributions of
those within the organization as you meet organizational goals or implement
changes.
5) Leadership Recommendation: If you are prepared to accept and implement the
aforementioned recommendations, it will require both personal change and strong
leadership. Recall, that your organization requested our consulting firm to evaluate your
organization, find its weaknesses and provide recommendations for improvement.
Although we have identified a number of issue and made recommendations related to
each, it is up to you to find a way to use this information so that it benefits the
organization. The silver lining for your organization is the strength, resolve and
knowledge of its people. The organization has a number of employees who are devoted,
engaged and willing to make changes to improve the organization. Given this, it the
responsibility of the Plant Manager to communicate both the successes and failures of the
organization, engage them and solicit feedback. They care about the organizations future

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and are willing to be change agents given the authority. You must realize that your
personnel are the most important part of your organization and thus need to be shown a
level of trust and respect equal to this responsibility. They will also need your knowledge
and guidance from time to time, so be there and be approachable.
If you truly wish to see the organization improve and move forward, as the Plant
Manager, you must be fully committed, willing to put in the work and embrace your role
as the biggest agent of change. It is an absolute that you must empower all employees
and understand that they will sometimes fail in their attempt to meet success. This is
likely when the most learning will occur, so you must practice restraint while allowing
for new ideas or techniques. We understand that what is being asked of you is not
easy. We are committed to helping your organization succeed using any of our
available resources. We hope that by implementing the recommendations provided, a
strong management team will be formed, you will have more time to focus on being
the leader of the organization, productivity will have improved and the organization will
remain viable for many years to come. Thank for this opportunity to work with you and
form a lasting partnership.
Reference:
Mosley Jr., D. C., Mosley Sr., D. C., & Pietri, P. H. (2011). Supervisory Management. Mason,
OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.