Motivation. Guidance. Direction. Management. They’re all activities we might associate with the role of a leader but how they are delivered very much depends on who that leader is, their character traits and their subject matter expertise. 

Leadership styles were being researched as far back as 1939 when psychologist Kurt Lewin’s influential study identified three distinctive types of leadership:

  1. Authoritarian: offering clear expectation on what, when and how.
  2. Democratic: a more participative form of leadership, where guidance is offered but input is invited.
  3. Laissez-faire: where decision making is left to group members.

The study found that autocratic leadership is most suitable when decisive action is needed. Perhaps the most modern-day example in the cable factory environment is a company’s approach to Covid-19 biosecurity. Whilst allowing for less creativity, autocratic leadership is necessary in ensuring that this – and any other safety protocols that exist within the factory environment – are strictly followed.

On the whole, however, democratic leadership is traditionally considered to be the most effective; allowing all involved to play their part but with decision making being the ultimate responsibility of the leader.

As leadership theory has evolved, so too has the importance of adapting leadership style to the situation. Hersey and Blanchard’s model on leadership, published in 1969, remains one of the best-known situational theories, and describes four primary styles of leadership:

  1. The telling style: characterised by telling people what to do.
  2. The selling style: where leaders convince followers to buy into their ideas.
  3. The participating style: encouraging group members to take a more active role in the decision-making process.
  4. The delegating style: a hands-off approach to leadership, allowing group members to make the majority of decisions.

So how can the cable factory environment best accommodate different leadership styles? And how do you know which is most appropriate, when?

In the factories of old, the leadership style has historically been more akin to ‘telling’. As the factory environment evolves however – with a greater need for highly-skilled automation and highly skilled engineers – so too will leadership styles. With the advent of augmented and virtual reality as well as robotics, more ‘participating’ and ‘delegating’ styles will help to harness the creativity of a highly-skilled workforce.

For more information on how Cimteq can help you on the Industry 4.0 journey, please email Katy Harrison, Marketing Manager, Cimteq at   


Read more about Cimteq here