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Amy Gade

LDRS 600: Supervisory Leadership


Case Study #2: The Autocratic Manager
1. Why do you think the autocratic approach worked effectively for four
years in this situation?
Likely the lack of structure in the previous years that the paper mill plant was run
under a more permissive management style lead to more success when the plant
was run by a more autocratic manager. The current management style likely
provided more structure, definitive decision making, and a single leader to look to
for direction that wasnt otherwise present in the mill upon his hiring. The dynamic
personality of the current manager probably helped him in gaining the acceptance
of the staff in terms of his leadership styles and goals for the plant. While the
autocratic style used by the manager posed its own challenges for the employees to
get used to, his kindness and good intentions were likely evident in his
management, which in turn motivated the staff to produce great results for four
straight years. It is quite possible that production increases lead to staff growth and
the need for some organizational chart changes which are what can be found in the
paper mills current structure.
2. Diagnose the problems and/or issues facing this mill.
The biggest problem facing this mill is too many leaders. An employee reports to a
foreman, who reports to a supervisor, who reports to a department head, who
reports to a production superintendent, who reports to a manager, who reports to
the assistant plant manager, who reports to the mill manager. This organization of
staffing puts too many people in charge likely leaving staff confused as to who to
report to and listen to. Likewise because goals, tasks, rules, etc. must passed
through multiple leaders before reaching the employees it is likely that the initial
message is somewhat lost in translation. It also seems because there are so many
different levels of leadership, everyone is passing the blame onto another leader. No
one is ultimately taking responsibility for problems, issues, and lack of production at
the plant. This is likely the cause of morale, attitude, and communication issues.
3b. Develop a set of recommendations that you or your consulting team
will present to the mill manager. Include suggestions regarding his
leadership style.
I would suggest, first and foremost, that the mill manager take some time to get to
know the members of his plant mill. These people are the key to production and it
feels as though there isnt much of a community at the plant. Allow these people to
feel like valued members of the team. Explain why their role is important to the
overall production at the plant. Allow them to give some feedback or generate some
new ideas as to how the work environment could be improved. It may be worth
developing some kind employee of the month highlight, which allows all employees
at the plant to learn a little bit about that individual member of the team. Highlight
the employees role at the plant, maybe production statistics, and some personal

things about the employee as well, like their family and/or personal interests. I
believe this will attribute to employees being valued. Valued employees equates to
productive employees. Perhaps there could be some incentive type awards
developed for Employee of the Quarter, which could help generate a healthy
competition amongst employees.
Next, I would suggest the mill manager take a look at the various levels of
leadership in the current organizational chart. Ensure that each level is necessary
by evaluating the purpose of their role. Make sure each level is different in terms of
what it is responsible for and who and what it should be leading. Likewise, I would
encourage a weekly leadership team meeting amongst the mill manager and
members of the various leadership levels. This would allow for reporting and
discussion amongst the various roles, which in turn allows the mill manager to
actually let his leadership team lead, while he in turn can focus on leading the
leadership team, creating new goals and procedures, and ultimately increase
production at the plant.
Lastly, once better functionality is created amongst the leadership team, it would be
crucial that all employees at the plant understand the new and improved structure.
Employees should know, without question, who they are to report to, who will be
leading them, and ultimately what their leader is responsible for and what their
purpose is. Employees should understand the purpose of the weekly leadership
team meeting, so as to encourage ideas and feedback to be submitted to their
leader prior to the meeting for possible discussion. The various leaders should be
charged with reporting back to their subordinates any things discussed at the
meeting they should need to know about.
I would encourage the mill manager to take a more consultative approach to
management. He has a leadership team for a reason, so he should use those
leaders to consult with while making decisions. While he would still be ultimately
responsible for making major decisions, I believe all members of his staff will feel
more valued if there is a sense of the ability to provide feedback or initiate new
ideas. The mill manager should focus more on the big picture, goals, and
production, allowing his leadership team to worry more so about the day to day
operations. I think the mill manager should use his already kind and good
intentioned nature to develop a more team atmosphere at the plant, which will in
turn make all members of his staff feel more valued. I believe these simple, slight
changes to his leadership team and leadership style will provide the necessary
changes to increase production and satisfy the mill managers innate desire to be
successful.

Resources Consulted
Mosley, D. C., Mosley, D. C., & Pietri, P.H. (2011). Supervisory Management: The Art
of Inspiring, Empowering, and Developing People. Mason, OH: South-Western
Cengage Learning.