Research Report

Hands-on or hands-off: effective leadership and management in SMEs

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Hands-on or hands-off: effective leadership and management in SMEs

Published May 2014

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5996 KB

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This Research Insight, produced in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University and based on a series of case studies of SMEs, looks at what the organisational transitions mean for leadership and management in the SME context. Our work covers the variety of individuals at the top of the organisation as well as the potential of others within the organisation to demonstrate leadership and take on management roles at different stages of SME transition.

"... if leadership is not allowed to devolve down the line as the
organisation develops, the business can ‘outgrow’ its own people."

Content of the report

  • Introduction
  • The research
  • Leadership in SMEs – what does it look like?
  • Individual capability of leaders and managers
    Making a transition from a hobby to a business
    Discovering individual leadership styles through experience
  • Implications of organisational size and structure for leadership and management
    From Entrepreneurial Edge to Emerging Enterprise: spinning too many plates at once
    From Emerging Enterprise to Consolidating Organisation: the art of letting go
    From a Consolidating to an Established Organisation: a need for co-ordination
    Established Organisation: leadership from within
  • The impact of the external context on the nature of leadership and management
    Change is the new normal
    Flexing leadership style depending on the situation
  • Key insights for SMEs
  • Appendix: Case studies

 View Keeping culture, purpose and values at the heart of your SME

View more information about SMEs

View more information on leadership