Differentiating Managing & Supervision

The manager in developing an individual style of leadership need not be limited to choices restricted to a few classes. The style a manager chooses depends upon three groups of forces: (1) forces in the manager, e.g. the manager’s value system, confidence in subordinates, inclinations and feeling of security in an uncertain situation; (2) forces in the subordinates, e.g, subordinates’ expectations; and (3) forces in the situation e.g types of organization, the nature of the problems, and the pressure of time. Given these forces leadership behavior can be viewed along a continuum from “boss-centered” to “subordinate-centered” leadership. Moving from the boss- centered to subordinate-centered, one can observe the following styles:

(1) The manager makes the decision and announces it.
(2) The manager “sells” the decision.
(3) The manager presents ideas, invites questions.
(4) The manager presents a tentative decision subject to change.
(5) The manager presents the problem.
(6) The manager defines the limits and requests the group to make a decision.
(7) The manager permits the group to make decisions within prescribed limits.

Leadership styles depend upon which set of assumptions about human behavior the manager uses. We have seen that Douglas McGregor summarizes two sets which he calls Theory X and Y assumptions. Blake and Mouton have developed a managerial grid which cross classifies managerial styles according to the degree to which the manager exhibits concern for subordinates (which they call consideration) and concern for production (which they call initiating structure). For example, on this grid indicates high concerns for employees and high emphasis on production.

The current approach to leadership styles is to emphasize the contingency approach that is to attempt to adapt a particular style to the situation faced by the leader. Most current works view leadership styles along a continuum from extreme employee orientation to extreme task orientation. The most influential theorist and researcher, recognizes that leadership effectiveness is multidimensional and that the style used in practice depends upon the situation. He identifies three situational factors as important determinants: (1) leader- member relations (the degree of confidence and loyalty of members in regard to the leader), (2) task structure (the degree to which the tasks are made routine), and (3) position power (the amount of formal authority and support by upper management held by the leader).

Practicing managers can be helped by analyzing the above approaches to leadership styles; however, they must develop their own view point after considering their own assumptions and inclination and adapting them to each situation.

The traits, skills, and approaches of leadership are essential considerations in the leading function. No amount of analyzing, talking, thinking and preparing will substitute for executive action.


The directing functions include all process for initiating action. A part of this function is called supervision when the managers are in direct physical contact with the non-managers. Supervision literally means overseeing and thus implies that there is face-to-face contact. All levels of management are usually engaged in some face to face contact with subordinates, even if only with the private secretary, but the lowest managers have as their primary duty the supervision of workers in basic operations. This level is composed of supervisors, foremen, and section bosses.

In simple line organizations, the supervisor must perform all the functions of management. Even in highly functional organization in which planning, controlling, organizing, communicating, staffing, and decision making are handled by specialists, the supervisor will contribute to these functions, even if only in a small way. For example in a highly developed control system using mechanical and electronic devices as well as inspectors and other specialists, the supervisor retains the residual control function of personally seeing that performance is accomplished in line with predetermine criteria. Moreover the supervisor is the key person on the spot when corrective action must be taken.–

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