Also known as span of control, is a very important concept of organizing leadership function. It refers to the number of subordinates that can be effectively handled by a superior in an organization. This means how relationships are planned between superiors and subordinates in an organization.
Management area is generally categorized under two heads – narrow span and wide span. Limited management means that a single manager or supervisor supervises a few subordinates. This gives rise to a high organizational structure. While a broad spectrum of leadership means that a single leader or supervisor oversees a large number of subordinates. This gives rise to a flat organizational structure. There is an inverse relationship between the management area and the number of hierarchical levels in an organization, ie. the narrower the management area, the greater the number of levels in an organization.
Narrow leadership is more expensive compared to broad spectrum of management as there is a greater number of superiors / managers and thus greater communication issues also exist between different levels of management. The smaller the geographically dispersed subordinates, the better it is to have a broad spectrum of leadership, as it would be possible for managers to be in contact with subordinates and explain to them how to effectively perform the tasks. In the case of narrow voltage function, there is relatively more growth potential for a subordinate, as the number of levels is more.
The more effective and organized leaders are in the execution of their tasks, the better it is to have a broad spectrum of leadership for such an organization. The less skilled, motivated and confident the employees, the better it is to have a narrow area of tension so that managers can spend time with them and monitor them well. The more standardized it is the nature of tasks, ie. if the same task can be performed using the same input, the better it is to have a wide spectrum of control as multiple numbers of subordinates can be monitored by a single parent. There is more flexibility, quick decision-making, effective communication between upper-level and low-level management, and improved customer interaction in the event of broad management tension. Technological developments such as mobile phones, mails, etc., enable superiors to expand their area of management as there is more efficient communication.
An optimal / ideal range of control according to the modern authors is fifteen to twenty subordinates per manager, while the traditional authors according to the traditional authors are six subordinates per manager. But, in fact, an ideal range of control depends on the nature of an organization, the skills and abilities of the manager, the skills and abilities of the employees, the nature of the job, the degree of interaction required between superiors and subordinates.