An autocratic style of leadership is when a leader makes a decision alone. The leader conveys the decision to staff and they have to work within the scope of that decision. For example, in order to deliver good customer service, managers instruct all staff to follow Enterprise’s guidelines for dealing with customers.
Douglas McGregor in 1960 used the terms Theory X and Theory Y to identify two very different forms of management style: •A Theory X manager tells employees what to do and supervises their work. This involves using strict controls within the business. This reflects an autocratic style. •In contrast, a Theory Y manager believes employees want to do well. The manager provides individuals with the opportunity to take control of their work. They can contribute towards solving a problem or issue. This helps motivate them to do better. Enterprise needs its employees to use their skills to deliver high levels of customer service. This means an autocratic management style is inappropriate in daily routines. A branch manager sets the standards for the team but encourages team members to be flexible and responsive to each customer. This ensures that customers get the service they expect.
However, there are many examples of autocratic style in use at Enterprise. These relate to issues which affect the whole organisation or which are central to the business. For example:
•Andy Taylor insisted all branches use ESQi, the customer satisfaction measure, because it met the business objective. In order to gain commitment to using the process, employees had the prospect of promotion when they achieved high scores. This was a big motivator for staff. •When the Senior Vice President of European Operations at Enterprise decided on the company”s diversity programme, employees were clear that this decision was compulsory and not an option. •The Vice President of Corporate Communications for Enterprise established an environmental committee. Its aim was to influence the behaviour of the whole organisation by reducing waste and improving its carbon footprint. As the industry leader, Enterprise attempts to set high standards when it comes to the impact of rental cars on the environment.
In contrast to the autocratic style, Enterprise uses democratic decision-taking in many parts of the business. Everyone has the opportunity to contribute ideas to the decision. There are two types of democratic decision-making:
•persuasive democratic management – here the leader makes the decision first and then persuades employees that he or she has made the right decision •consultative democratic management – this involves the group contributing to the decision-making process, with the leader making the final decision.
The team is central to delivering good customer service. The consultative approach helps Enterprise achieve this business objective.
Enterprise operates through an extensive network of local offices. Branch managers and their staff need to make decisions to meet the changing needs of customers in a fiercely competitive market. Each office operates with a large degree of autonomy. This means that, in many areas of operation, local offices have the power to govern themselves and make changes without referring to senior management. They use different management styles with customers on different occasions.
Examples of incidents they may have to deal with include:
•a car has been in an accident and a customer needs a hire car urgently. Local managers take a consultative approach to understand the issues and find the right solution for customers who might be upset or worried. •a customer wants a vehicle for a weekend break. Branch staff will be more authoritative in recommending a specific vehicle to suit their needs. This helps to satisfy this customer and ensure repeat business. Ownership and motivation
This independent approach enables Enterprise employees to have ownership of many of their activities. This acts as a motivator for staff.