Leading and Managing Digital Change in Rural Micro Enterprises

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Leadership for Rural Micro Enterprises

Introduction: Effective Leadership For Rural Micro Enterprises

Effective leadership is as necessary for rural micro enterprises as for large global multi-national corporations.


Logic of decision making in small micro enterprises can hide the need for thoughtful planning in developing leadership in rural  micro enterprises.

Leadership roles are often blurred with employee or manager roles. These can represent complications and be challenging to manage.



Challenges and Solutions

 Lack of Reward or Recognition:

Recognition of good job performance, offering more flexible working conditions, or greater responsibility needed where limited promotion opportunities exist


Understanding Leadership role boundaries:

Leaders typically work side by side with employees or managers meaning Leadership can be diluted or undervalued.


Good communication to ensure that employees clearly understand their own role and respect the responsibilities of the Leader.


Understanding the difference between Manager and Leader Leadership involves setting direction vision and change, aligning staff.



Making tough decisions:

Rural micro enterprise leadership involves making tough decisions.  Close bonds can make this very difficult Transparency, fairness and honest communication in managing unpalatable decisions.


Awareness of Stress and Work:

Frequent extreme pressures to work/life balance are unsustainable long-term.
Pre-empt the
long term detrimental personal and business consequences of leadership stress and overwork


Recognizing that new skills may be needed and managing staff changes:

Staff change affect the balance and harmony of the organization

Clearly defined job specifications and organised structured mentor support


Leadership Styles for Rural Micro-enterprises

What are Leadership Styles? What is your Leadership Style?

Broad descriptors of how a leader behaves while directing, motivating, guiding and managing staff.


Making the time to reflect on one’s own general leadership style and consideration of the pros and cons of any possible change


Kurt Lewin in1939 identified three main types of Leadership;

Authoritarian, (Autocratic)
Participative (Democratic)

Delegative (Laissez-Faire)


Authoritarian, (Autocratic)

A leader striving for full control over business operations

Tight supervision of task completion

Motivation and creativity in the workforce is largely stifled.

This style of leadership not recommended where creativity, staff motivation and retention are highly valued.  


Delegative (Laissez-Faire)

Considerable trust placed in the employee to remain self-motivated and on task.

In a highly skilled, professional service rural micro enterprise this leadership style is perhaps most effective.


Participative (Democratic)

Staff feel engaged and valued in the decision-making process, but the leader retains final say.

An empowered staff with a sense of ownership of goals and targets in a united team working together makes this style of leadership very popular for the rural micro enterprise.


Managing Digital Change in Rural micro enterprises

Digital Change cannot be avoided

Engagement in digital entrepreneurship is an unavoidable requirement for even the most traditional of rural businesses.

The pandemic has changed rural enterprise, work and consumer norms in ways previously unexpected till 2030’s. 

High Levels of adaptation required for the rural micro enterprise is often threatening and uncomfortable for leadership and staff.  

Managing change is the primary purpose of Leadership.  It is a planned structured business process to (in this case) realise the potential of your business through digitalization.



Change Management is Complex and Difficult

Understanding Change Management is a conscious longer-term process.


Implemented successfully it runs parallel to day-to-day priorities.

Change Management is not something for a moment in the life cycle of the rural micro enterprise. 

Managing Change requires honest, unemotional logic-based choices.

More difficult in rural micro-enterprises with typical family and community ties and well established traditions of working and engaging with local customers.



Managing Digital Change Tools

A number of valuable tools to help build a road map of Change Management are readily available and accessible.


Some of the more popular include:

-Smart Goals developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham in 1981
-Kotter’s Eight Stages of Change Management 1995/2011

-   Heifetz and Laurie’s Six Stages of Adaptive Change 1997/2011












All Three Approaches have  the common features of:

Staff empowerment





Examples of their success are readily available online.  All can be scaled in complexity according to rural micro-enterprise need.


Summing up

Summing up

Effective Leadership is as necessary for rural Micro Enterprises as for any other business type but is often neglected in the pressure of day-to-day operations.
There are challenges to leadership unique to the  rural micro structure which can be anticipated and prepared for.
Awareness of broad leadership styles will help to consciously develop an individual style most suited to the business.
There are pros and cons to all and the business model is a big consideration.
•Change Management is the most important function of Leadership. It can be very challenging for the rural micro enterprise and requires a considered structured plan to be successful.


Test Yourself
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Rural micro enterprises, Digital transformation, Change Management, Leadership Styles

  • That participants be equipped with a clear understanding of approaches to leading rural microenterprises 
  • That participants appreciate the need for planning and structure in implementing digital change in a rural micro enterprise


Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this training participants will:

  • Be able to identify and value the features of effective leadership in rural micro enterprises
  • Understand the challenges and contradictions of leading rural micro enterprises
  • Recognize different leadership styles and Identify their own leadership style
  • Recognize the value and Potential role of Change Management
  • Understand and apply different models of Change Management


Level 4

DigiComp 2.2:

  • - Communication and collaboration
  • - Digital content creation


  • Collaborating through digital technologies
  • Spotting Opportunites


  • - Ideas & opportunities
  • - Resources
  • - Into action


  • Vision
  • Valuing Ideas
  • Mobilising Others
  • Planning and Management


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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.