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Bureaucratic Leadership Style

Definition

Along with the charismatic and transitional leader, the bureaucratic leadership style was first described by Max Weber in 1947.  The bureaucratic style is based on following normative rules, and adhering to lines of authority.  The characteristics of this style aligned with Weber's description of transactional leaders.

Explanation

Weber was the first to distinguish between transactional leaders, such as bureaucratic leaders, and transformational leaders, such as charismatic leaders.  The transactional leader motivates followers through systematic rewards and punishments.  Weber also believed that most leaders exhibited characteristics of all three styles.

The characteristics of the bureaucratic style include:

  • Leaders impose strict and systematic discipline on the followers, and demand business-like conduct in the workplace
  • Leaders are empowered via the office they hold:  position power
  • Followers are promoted based on their ability to conform to the rules of the office
  • Followers should obey leaders because authority is bestowed upon the leader as part of their position in the company

Related Terms

transformational leaders, transactional leader, traditional leaders

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