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1. Explain the link between strategic management and leadership
2. Analyse the impact of management and leadership styles on strategic decisions
3. Evaluate how leadership styles can be adapted to different situations

Strategic Management and Leadership

Strategic leadership within an organisation mainly occurs in different places, at the top, in the middle and at the departmental level. Strategic management and leadership provide good scope and direction to drive the success of the firms. As stated by Hill et al. (2014), a major part of this strategic success comes from the effectively controlling the continuous change through the development of the process and the people. This study highlights in developing strategic management and leadership skills. Azman Free Zone (AFZ) is a UAE based company.  The organisation is responsible for immense industrial development in Ajman. The company offers investment privileges thus, attracting a number of companies. Ajman Free Zone was established in the year 1988 and it offers competitive privilege and flexibility for the companies by enabling them an opportunity to earn high return on investments ( 2018). There are four parts to the assignment, which helps in establishing the relationship in between the concepts of strategic management and leadership aligning with the appropriate theories to understand the case study. This study describes the assessment of leadership requirements to make the plan of the improvement of leadership skills.

Drotter stated six passages of pipeline in a life of a leader. In the first passage, the leaders have to manage self and the leaders have to manage others. The leaders contribute by working on the assigned tasks within the given time. In the second passage, the leaders manage others to control the managers assigning leadership and managerial work to the people. In this stage, the leaders need to recognise the value-based resistance to managerial work (Drotter et al. 2006). In the third passage, the author mentioned of managing the managers to control the function and managers endeavour to make out the value of the work. In the next passage, functional managers must understand to business manager. In the fifth stage, business manager tries to be group managers where the group manager provides value to the success of people's business. The final stage of the strategic management occurs when group managers become the enterprise manager.

The strategy is the way to achieve the goal within the organisation and strategy is just not only the ideas. As stated by Goetsch and Davis (2014), strategic management is an approach to create an organizational future by evolving in a turbulent environment. When the managers discuss the strategies, they actually work out the systematic plan for the betterment of the organisation. It has been noticed that strategy can enable the management to ensure all the work must be done by the employees focusing on the long-term interest of the organisation. Strategic management is the rightful approach for maintaining business opportunities along with mitigating the challenges. The objective of strategic management of Ajman Free Zone is to develop the infrastructure for the location so that the different companies can make the trade and financial operations near Ajman. According to Ginter et al. (2018), leadership is identified as the way in which the group and individuals are influenced towards firms’ objectives. Strategic leadership is one of the parts of strategic leadership and this process deals with kind notions as strategic thinking and strategic changes (Bergh et al. 2016). On the other side, strategic leadership means the strategic use of resources of the firms for organisational capacity building and creation of value in the volatile environment. Strategic leadership of Ajman Free Zone is to influence to make decisions for the long-term success.

Leadership Styles in Ajman Free Zone

Therefore, strategic thinking is involved working out the responses of organisational changes in the external and internal business process by understanding the weaknesses and strengths of the opportunities of the organisation in order to control the competitive advantages and sustainability. The strategic business decision can lead to a competitive advantage as it can help the organisation to recognise its objectives and strategies to gain the organisational goal (Saeed et al. 2014). Situational leadership is based on the main the relationship between followers and the leaders as the framework to discuss the situation. Managers and leaders both can provide socioemotional support to the employees. Leaders can be autocratic and these types of employees have no rule in case of decision-making as they just take a decision and no one must question on this. In addition, democratic leaders make the decision after discussing with the employees. As opined by Yahaya and Ebrahim (2016), passive leaders give general direction to the work process to be tackled.

Ajman Free Zone develops the leadership style at every level which helps to sustain the organisation’s long-term success. AFZ mainly follows the democratic leadership which helps the leaders to take the strategic decision. The decisions of major organisation based activities such as controlling, planning, evaluating and motivating of the employees are taken based on the leadership styles. Leaders can control the problem if they find out the difficulties and the process of solving problems will be different. While generating strategic decision; the leadership styles of the leaders play an important role as the business environment can be competitive and leadership skills can help to achieve organisational goals.

Leaders can be at the top of their performance when they lead the team from the front. AFZ has the good set of leaders and they are young along with they are efficient. I have been working in AFZ and my team leader Ashfaq is very good with the quality of transformational leadership style. Each of the team members follows Ashfaq and Ashfaq inspires the employees always. Ashfaq is the team leaders of the marketing team and he has the capacity to recognise the needed change, executing the change and creating the vision. I am part of the marketing team and each time members give their best to provide the best result.

Ajman Free Zone has mainly democratic leaders who can put an impact on discussing with the employees. Democratic leadership is more like a participative leadership in which the group members participate in the process of decision-making (Arnold et al. 2015). These types of leaders always encourage the group members to share the ideas as well as opinion. Members of the employees

Management Theories in Ajman Free Zone

Team leaders within the organisation are responsible for executing, planning and promoting the activities and team leaders are responsible to ensure that projects must be developed by assigning the tasks to the right set of people (Saleem 2015). Leaders in AFZ encourages all participants to take an active role in the assigning the tasks to the employees.   

The leaders in AFZ try to set the examples of four types of leadership. At first, I was posted under a leader who liked to portray the directing leadership and we were instructed to follow what the leader was saying to complete the tasks. In the finance team of AFZ, the leaders show the declarative type of leadership and group members do the work set by the leaders. 

Leaders within an organisation study the situations and the leaders use the appropriate style of leadership in order to handle the condition. Most of the management theories are mostly based on leaders and these theories do not have any relations with the followers. Leadership is mainly processed through which the leaders can guide the members to achieve the organizational objectives. In AFZ, the leaders like to use different leadership styles based on the conditions which distinguish the leaders and the followers

Trait theory of leadership is dealt with the characteristics of the leaders which help to predict the effectiveness of the leadership (Chemers 2014). Traits of the leaders can be identified through psychological, demographic, self-confidence and intellective. In the organisation Ajman Free Zone, the leaders have the mission to contribute to the growth of the Emirate of Ajman economy through excellence in providing the best new and innovative services with smart solutions. The leaders give the high level of effort to drive the achievement for the employees with high level of ambition. The leaders give motivation with intense desire to lead team members to reach the shared goals. The leaders in AFZ have the integrity and honesty; the leaders ask the team members to be trustworthy, able and reliable. The core values of the leaders of AFZ are the transparency, adaptability and creativity with innovation. Therefore, application of the trait theory of leadership can validate the concept of leadership. Trait theory serves detailed knowledge to the leaders so that the leadership process can run smooth.

Max Weber developed the Bureaucratic management theory and this theory mainly contains two essential elements; structuring of an organisation and rules of an organisation. As stated by Weber (2017), bureaucratic management emphasises the organisational operations in a rational way rather than arbitrary matters. In the organisations, management can take the bureaucratic approach when the management takes the decision of dividing the labour specialisation. Ajman Free Zone tries to make a balance between responsibilities and power. The leaders of AFZ follow the hierarchy and the senior level management believes in the chain of command to take the decisions along with the flow of effective communication. According to Beetham (2018), organisations’ and owners’ assets must be separated and the organisations need to have the proper set of rules. AFZ uses the promotions and selection of the employees based on the skills, experience and equalisation and leaders do not influence the personal relations in promotions of the employees. Ajman Free Zone runs in the characteristics of bureaucratic management as the leaders follow well-defined command and relationship between organisation’s employees is formal.


Fred Fiedler proposed Contingency theory as it mainly emphasises the leaders’ personality along with situation to operate. Contingency theory proposes that leaders can take two types of management decisions during the time of crisis and needs; task-motivated leadership and relationship-motivated leadership (Otley 2016). AFZ strives to become the leading global centre for attracting the foreign investment. The leaders are trying to attract the investors in achieving the happiness and prosperity. In AFZ the leaders deal with the employees to share the loyalty, trust and confidence. Task structure is associated with the clarity of the work to accomplish the tasks. As stated by Lussier and Achua (2015), the organisations follow the position of power to show the amount of reward-punishment authority which the leaders have over the members.   

AFZ is an organisation which focuses on developing Ajman area to enable the location to attract the foreign investment for both industrial positioning and for residents in the area. The management provides the advanced infrastructure and building the strategic partnership with the private sectors and public offices to develop a position to support the investors. The leaders of AFZ can focus on the management process of organising, controlling and on short-term planning. Therefore, it is feasible for AFZ context, the leaders can take the transactional leadership which involves directing and motivating the employees through putting the tasks based on the self-interest of the employees. Strategic management enables the organisation to follow the objectives along with making the policies for the senior management which may judge the direction and scope of the organisation (Banker et al. 2014). Within the organisations, things are changing rapidly and the management has to adapt to these changes. Managers and leaders can adopt different styles for various situations. Strategic thinking processes are the mission and vision while the strategic changes are the creating, implementing strategy and building the capabilities. The power of the transactional leaders emerges from the formal authority as well as the responsibility of the employees.

The major objectives of the employees are to admit the presence of the leaders and to obey the leaders’ instructions. Strategic management is the way to establish and control the strategies of the organisation in implementing the strategy with good spirit. The leaders in Ajman Free Zone can take the strategy of motivating the employees as the system of punishment and rewards. The leaders need to do what the subordinates want; the leaders can get what they are wishing for. The leaders within the organisation can make involve themselves in four sections. First, transactional leaders can take the strategy of linking the rewards and goals providing resources to the employees. The leaders can monitor the subordinates’ tasks and if the employees deviate from the standards; they can take the effective measure. In addition, transactional leaders can intervene when the performance of the employees are not meeting the standards. Lastly, transactional leaders sometimes can ask the subordinates to make the managerial decisions. AFZ will have the better result when the leaders will abdicate the roles and take the participative leadership style to make the focus on the work.  

During the time of the 1960s, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton developed the graphic imagery of the leadership styles. In the graphic portrayal, there is a managerial grid which has two axes depicting two types of leadership behaviour (Blake and Mouton 1982). Y-axis depicts the concern for people and X-axis depicts the concern for production. Each of the dimensions of the grid has the range from 1 (low) to 9 (high), therefore, it has 81 different managerial grid positions. AFZ can check the leadership requirement through five different strategies which result from the graphs. If the position in the grid shows (1, 1); it signifies that the leaders have lower concern for the employees within the organisation. If the grid position shows (9, 1); it is called task management and it signifies the leaders’ concern about the production. If the grid position depicts (5, 5); this position depicts the compromising style and the leaders strive to maintain a balance between the organisations and needs of the employees. If the grid shows (1, 9); this means the leaders provide attention to the team members and the leaders’ behaviour is comfortable and friendly.

The employees can provide 360-degree feedback from the leaders and this review system is fully confidential and anonymous. This feedback system of AFZ will be based on the employees’ peers and managers for the leaders. This feedback will be helpful to develop the career path for both leaders and the employees to set the target goal to gain the objectives of the organisations. This feedback can identify the weaknesses and strengths of the leaders. Based on the feedback, the leaders can improve their performance and culture of working.

As stated by Aij and Rapsaniotis (2017), there are three competencies of the leadership and these are leadership competencies, core competencies and professional competencies. Organisational leaders can show the professional competencies while making the decisions and this skill needs to direct the overall process and system. The leaders of AFZ can discuss the self-based values and principles of the leaders and the leaders have to work with the team.

According to Kearns et al. (2015), management of objective (MBO) is the policy of management aims to relate the organisational goal to individual performance and development. The top manager of Ajman Free Zone can set the overall goals and it should convey the lower management for finishing the work. MBO gives the opportunity for the employees to accept the responsibility to make the personal contribution. The leaders within AFZ need to clarify the management model which must be agreed by the employees and management both. AFZ has the goal setting and it can have the action plan to encourage the commitment and participation of the staffs.

Ajman Free Zone values the adaptability and cooperation along with partners in the industry. Due to certain changes in the external environment of UAE, the competencies of the leaders can be changed. First of all, the political and regulatory situation can be changed in the UAE. The leadership of AFZ should have the capability to face the challenges regarding regulatory courses. The media will definitely broadcast the regulatory changes in the external environment; the leaders will raise the challenges which are not in favour of the company. The management strategies of the organisations will be changed according to the new regulations. The strategies of the organisations will be focused on the future trends of the leadership.

In recent time, an organisation’s worst nightmare is recession and AFZ works for investment in Ajman area. The organisational leaders need to work on controlling the budget. The leaders must clear to cut the policy which can increase the expenses of the organisation (Wagner 2016). The leaders need to swim the channel to better positioning of the company for the existing customers. AFZ leaders can consider outsourcing everything and the actual strategy is to turn the fixed cost into variable costs.

Within the organisation, the conflict between two individuals or between organisation and individuals is common. The conflicts can be useful sometimes to get the best idea for the organisation or sometimes; conflict can reduce the productivity of the organisation. The leaders' role is to bridge the gap between the two employees while conflicting or between organisation and employees. The leaders can pinpoint the lapses and it can help the leaders to resolve smoothly. The leaders can take time to sit with the employee alone and this personal touch can heal the conflict. The leaders can plan important discussion so that discussion can help to solve the issue.

Merger and acquisition pose significance issue to the leaders as during the merger and acquisition; the leaders have to mix up two organisational cultures simultaneously. According to Day et al. (2014), the leaders have to accurate in the calculation of the new employees' minds. The leaders need to foresee the condition of the organisation as a merger and acquisition emerge as upheaval towards the culture of the organisation. The leaders need to show the compelling of the vision and they can set the series of goals also.

The leaders in AFZ must possess the true leadership skills. The possession of the leadership skills is not always enough and the great leaders need to develop the skills with the advancement of time. The leaders must influence the employees and a good leader uses the influence skills to motivate the team members. For the employees, inspiration can bring huge changes to get the best results. According to Antonakis and Day (2017), a good leader enhances the impact of just empowering the employees and skills of the leadership can be improved through self-help learning. A good leader must be adaptable to change and the leaders need to have good vision. Leaders can communicate the regulations and policies to the employees so that the employees can exercise right type of communication. The leaders must have the skills of coordination and the leaders can maintain the integrity among the employees and departments. Discipline is the factor within the organisation which can change the productivity of the organisation. In AFZ, the leaders lack the quality of influencing the employees, understand the organisational plan, to focus on the action plan of the employees and to inspire the employees to work better.

The leaders in AFZ need to develop certain qualities. AFZ can develop the following abilities:

  • To develop influential quality to impact positively on the organisation
  • To understand the organisational plan and to track the measurable result
  • To prioritise the action plans for the improvement
  • To encourage and inspire employees


Team leader of a team

Developmental objective

To develop the leadership skill to polish the competence and it will give the result to improve the skills of each of the team members



Learning style


Tome frame

To influence others

Reading online articles and subscribe Harvard Business Reviews



2 weeks  

To understand the organisational plan and to track the measurable result

Attend seminars and doing practical exercise,

Admit to local courses on enterprise training,

Doing meeting with the employees for the strategic plan

Theoretical and auditory

Dirham 400

4 weeks

To prioritise action plans and improvement

Keeping a daily journal

Meeting the ‘to do’ task list

Theoretical and practical


4 weeks

To encourage and inspire employees

Reading motivational and self-help books

Reading articles on motivation


Dirham 100

2 weeks

Table 1: Development of leadership skills

(Source: Self-developed)

For the leaders, self-awareness is very important and leaders need to recognise their potential strengths and weaknesses. According to Chen and Rybak (2017), leadership experience is associated with the coaching, integrity and mentoring of the employees with significant feedback and developmental actions. In the developmental plan of the leaders, the table can be completed with the SMART concept. The SMART concept helps the development plan to measure the development of the leaders. The method of SMART will help the leaders to find out the achievement and measure the growth of the leadership development within the stipulated time frame. The measurement of the leadership development plan can be based on the feedback from the employees. AFZ can set mainly four types of feedback which are a reaction, learning, behaviour and the result. The management of AFZ can start the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) to make the leaders understand needed for link and dedication of the organisation.

Reading can boost the power of the brain of the leaders and reading can make the people smart. The leaders are expected to read a lot from books, articles and online journals. Reading plan of the leaders can improve the function of the memory. When the employees ask any query to the leaders; the leaders need to be capable enough to understand these.

The leaders can attend short courses on communication, organisational development or any recent technologies. These courses help the leaders to get familiar with the new terms and the leaders can help the team members in need. This process will help the team leaders to understand the needs of the employees which will, in turn, help the leaders to manage the needs of the team members.

The leaders are expected to keep a daily journal where they can keep the daily activities. Writing the daily journal can keep the brain sharp and alert. Journal writing can also help to reduce stress. Keeping the journal can also help to increase the focus on the employees and it provides greater stability (Carter et al. 2016).

Self-help training of the leaders is a process of self-education which is aimed at increasing the professional skills, quality of life and employability and talent of the leaders. The leaders will become more self-aware of the fact and the leaders will have the direction through the self-help training in AFZ.


It has been observed that strategic leadership of Ajman Free Zone is development oriented and the organisational strategic management is goal oriented. Strategic management is about the organised development of the organisation's resources of the key operational areas like manufacturing, financing, technological, marketing and manpower. Leadership is also about inspiring the employees to gain the demanding objectives and leadership is the art of getting the work done by the influence of the leaders while management depends on analysis. Leaders encourage strategic decision within the organisation so that the managers can make strategic decisions independently. Management plans on the execution of the strategy while the leaders control the human resources, coordinate with the employees and motivate them. It can be stated that leaders can be born with the leadership traits and managerial technique is a game of statistics. The leaders can follow different types of leadership which could have a certain influence on the progress and working on the organisation. The leaders of AFZ can follow the bureaucracy, contingency and situational leadership theories in different situations of the organisational development. However, transactional leadership theory is prescribed and leadership styles of the leaders can be balanced to complete the vision of the organisation. Leaders within the organisation provide the direction and purpose to improve the condition.

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