Bureaucratic leadership: what it is, its characteristics, advantages and disadvantages

Leadership, in the broad sense, is what refers to the set of skills that a person who is in charge of a project, business or organization, among others, has that helps them to be able to exercise its influence in the way of acting. work for the people in their care; there are different types of leadership.

Bureaucratic leadership is one of the leadership styles and is characterized by being the most formal and perhaps the strictest way to lead.as a bureaucratic leader is responsible for guiding his employees or their dependents towards the achievement of a series of tasks and objectives based on concrete and strict rules.

In this article, we will talk more about what bureaucratic leadership is and how it affects different organizations or the education system.

    What is bureaucratic leadership?

    Leadership is the ability of certain people who are at the head of a work team, an organization or an institution of a diverse nature to be able motivate, organize, influence and initiate a series of actions in order to achieve objectives which must involve several people or groups for which you are responsible.

    As we have already mentioned, there are several styles of leadership: participatory, charismatic, authoritarian, laissez-faire, strategic, task-oriented, people-oriented, natural, transactional, transformational and finally bureaucratic. to talk about it below.

    Bureaucratic leadership is the most formal way of leading a group of people, since in this case the leader is responsible for directing his employees towards the achievement of a series of tasks and objectives, previously set, strictly following specific rules consistent with the policies of the company or institution to which they belong.

    In this sense, bureaucratic leadership seeks to develop a rigid work environment between leaders or managers and the employees or members of the work team under their charge, so that the latter must respect the rules and follow the instructions. strictly established by the former.

    It was the sociologist Max Weber who spoke of bureaucratic leadership as a way of directing which consists of run a business hierarchically and leave each position under the supervision and control of a supervisor, so that each of the workers must account to his superior for his own decisions and actions, as well as those of the people for whom he is responsible. In this case, everything must be governed by a system of consistent rules.

    It should be noted that in the bureaucratic leadership model also the possibility of promotion is generally taken into account according to seniority, the capacity of the worker and/or the knowledge available to him..

    Given the high rigidity of the bureaucratic leadership style, this was not without criticism; among which are some of the disadvantages that will be explained in the next subsection.

      Advantages and disadvantages of bureaucratic leadership style

      Below we will briefly explain the main advantages and disadvantages of the bureaucratic leadership style.


      Although in many cases bureaucratic leadership may be inadvisable, it is There are instances where maintaining this form of leadership might be a good option.

      Adopting a bureaucratic style of leadership is entirely appropriate in workplaces where there are very serious security risksas may be the case in contexts where you have to work with heavy machinery, toxic substances, etc., it would therefore be strongly recommended that all employees strictly follow the established rules in order to avoid risks.

      Other instances in which this style of leadership would be recommended are workplaces where large sums of money are handled, work with high cost machinery or equipment and/or when selling high priced products. raised.

      In some cases, bureaucratic leadership has also been found to encourage them positive results at work, and also effectively.

      In a sense, another benefit could be the establishment of clear and structured promotions and rewards for workers.


        As we said, given the rigidity of bureaucratic leadership, it has become quite controversial, so we feel it is appropriate to mention the main drawbacks when applying this style of leadership.

        The first of the disadvantages that should be highlighted is the exaggerated compliance with the rules and regulations stipulated by the company’s managers, which It can be quite stressful for your employees.

        The second of them is the loss of social sense between leaders and subordinates, because it seeks to adhere to the rules in a rigid way, so that the social part fades into the background. In these cases, there is usually no smooth communication between leaders and their dependents. Also there is usually a depersonalization of the workerseach of them being one more number in the chain of work.

        This rigidity of the rules, leaving aside the social plan, can trigger a tense working environment within the institution or the company, which can be unfavorable in the long term for the employees to be satisfied with their work or favor a camaraderie which could be a plus for them to be motivated and to produce more. In this sense, rigidity because they follow the rules and do their job strictly could have the opposite effect.

        Another disadvantage of this high rigidity at work is that conducive to high resistance to changeit is therefore more difficult to adapt to unforeseen events and changes in the sector over time.

        Among its disadvantages can also be found the fact that there is a high level of control over all factors related to work tasks, as well as employees, which this can lead to burnout or burnout.

          Bureaucratic leadership in companies and organizations

          Companies and organizations where there is predominantly a bureaucratic style of leadership often tend to depersonalize workers and maintain power at the top of that organization by leaders or managers.

          In this type of companies and organizations, privileges are usually not granted to any of the workers, nor friendly treatment, individual favors or privileges, so that strict equality in the treatment of each worker is generally required. At least that’s how it is in theory, according to this style of leadership.

            Bureaucratic leadership in the education system

            In a study conducted by Moral, Amores and Ritacco in 2016 where research was carried out on leadership models in 24 secondary education institutes in the province of Granada (Spain), it was concluded that there was a tendency marked on the part of their directors towards a bureaucratic leadership oriented towards that the school is already functioning outsideso the opportunity to develop a collaborative environment in which decision-making could be shared was not offered.

            While there is no doubt that this type of leadership can help in the management and administration of educational institutions in order to carry out an effective work, it is also necessary for school administrators to consider other aspects. fundamental to the development of an environment conducive to improvement in student learning.

            However, it should be noted that this sample is not large enough to generalize that there is a prevalence of this leadership model in institutes at the national level, although this should be considered for future research.

            Bibliographic references

            • Bordas, MJ (2016). Strategic work climate management. Madrid: National University of Distance Education.
            • Duro, A. (2013). Psychology of the quality of life at work. Madrid: Ediciones Pyramid.
            • Gil, F., Alcover de la Hera, CM, Rico, R. & Sánchez, M., (2011). New forms of leadership in work teams. Notebooks of the psychologist, 32 (1), pp. 38-47.
            • Mamani, H., Chugden, U., Tintaya, I., Sánchez, A. & Salazar, J. (2014). bureaucratic management. Journal of Administrative Research of the Universidad Peruana Unión (UPeU), 1 (1), pp. 73-85.
            • Martinez, V., Ramos, J. & Moliner, C. (2015). Organizational psychology. Madrid: Editorial summary.
            • Moral, C., Amores, F: J. & Ritacco, M. (2016). Distributed leadership and ability to improve in high schools. Education Studies, 30, pp. 115-143.
            • Moreno-Jiménez, B. & Garrosa, E. (2013). Health at work. Madrid: Ediciones Pyramid.
            • Pereda, S., Berrocal, F., & Alonso, MA (2008). Work psychology. Madrid: Editorial summary.

            Leave a Comment