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Barriers between leadership and management theory and their application, including strategies to address barriers


This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2024 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

For this assessment criteria, you will be required to convey your understanding of the barriers to applying leadership and management theory.


Some of the areas you may wish to investigate include:

  • Barriers formed by not having enough time or resources to fulfil the role of a leader effectively (e.g. small business owners that are swamped with day-to-day operations)
  • Barriers formed by using the incorrect leadership or management style for a given situation (e.g. using an affiliative style of leadership when team members are underperforming)
  • Barriers formed by not being flexible in your approach to leadership and management (e.g. using an autocratic style all of the time)
  • Barriers formed by not having the support of senior management for your style of leadership

City and Guilds also put forward several areas to research and reflect upon – a short discussion of each is provided below.


Strategic Management

Strategic management is the continuous process of analysing the organisation, assessing internal and external factors, setting goals and allocating resources to implement plans to achieve these objectives.


When a strategic plan is implemented, it will often result in changes throughout the organisation. Barriers may be formed if staff feel unsure of the new direction or do not understand the reasons that decisions were made. Therefore, managers must ensure that changes are communicated to team members effectively and there are opportunities for discussion and asking questions.

Managing individuals/performance management


Barriers may be formed if team members are not focused on their roles and responsibilities, so performance management is required to ensure that they are held to account. Managers should provide praise for an individual’s strengths and support for their weaknesses, working with them to improve their practice.

Managing teams


Barriers may also be formed if teams do not work effectively together. If some team members are not performing well, it can cause friction and conflict, which must be dealt with by the manager. Conflict management is an essential skill of good leaders and managers and should be performed swiftly to prevent disagreements from festering or growing.

Managing change


As mentioned above in ‘Strategic Management‘, change must be managed effectively to prevent barriers from staff not wanting to accept the changes or not understanding them. This could result in the changes being implemented incorrectly, reluctantly, or not being implemented at all.

Managing quality


Quality assurance is the process of assessing organisational systems and processes to ensure that they are working efficiently. When systems and processes are discovered to require improvement, changes will need to be made. Again, this can result in resistance from team members if they do not understand the reasons behind the changes.

Strategies to overcome barriers


Some strategies that may be used to overcome these barriers include:

Individual professional development


Professional development includes training, supervision and appraisal. These give staff members the opportunity to enhance their skillset and become more confident in their role, as well as being able to disclose any difficulties that they are having. The manager will also be able to address the individual’s performance and sensitively highlight any areas of their work that could be improved. By working with individuals to set targets, improve their practice and support them with any issues they have, a manager can help to address and resolve any barriers and increase their productivity and job satisfaction.

Individual SWOT analysis of service delivery and teams


A SWOT analysis is a tool that is used to identify:

  • Strengths – what is done well?
  • Weaknesses – what could be improved?
  • Opportunities  – current trends or opportunities
  • Threats – what could potentially cause problems?

This analysis could be performed on individuals, teams and service delivery and can be used to formulate plans for success as well as reduce the likelihood of poor performance.

Staff members can be involved in this process, which can help them to feel valued and take ownership of any plans that are developed, thereby reducing barriers caused by staff apathy.


Individual self-reflection

An important part of the role of all health and social care staff is regular self-reflection to identify what went well and what could be improved. A manager that enables and encourages self-reflection will develop staff that are able to learn from their experiences.


Individual and team action planning

Following discussions in supervision/appraisal (individuals) or team meetings (teams), the next step is to develop action plans. This involves putting the ideas that have been spoken about into an action plan, which includes concrete targets and timescales.


Individual management coaching and mentoring

Coaching and mentoring can be used to support less experienced staff to become more competent and confident in their role. Even experienced staff can benefit from coaching and mentoring, even if it is to simply offload, or have a fresh pair of eyes look over a problem.


Mentoring is usually a long-term relationship between the mentee and a more senior person in their chosen career path, who can offer experiential knowledge, expertise and advice related to their job role and industry.

A coaching relationship is usually more formal and goal-oriented, concluding after the initial goals have been achieved. A coach does not need to have first-hand experience of their coachee’s job role or even knowledge of their industry because they will use questioning to support the coachee to identify and prioritise goals and find the solutions for themselves. In contrast, a mentee will tend to ask more specific, industry-related questions to tap into their mentor’s expertise and experience, and the mentor may be more directive in their responses.


To facilitate an effective coaching or mentoring program, an organisation must ensure that participation is voluntary and team members are given sufficient time to work within this role. When team members feel forced into the role or it becomes an additional pressure that they have to fit into their workflow, motivation can be lost.

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