Management And Leadership Of Wal Mart

Management can be defined as the process of working with people and resources to accomplish organizational goals (Bateman, 2009). Leadership is the setting up of a new vision for a particular group to follow. When there is leadership without management there will always be a need for a direction to be set. There will also always have to be someone to correct the mistakes that are made within the organization.

When there is management without leadership, there will always be a need to have a referee because there is no new leadership or change. The job of a leader is not to just sit behind a desk all day, but to get out and motivate employees to do their best. Therefore, the importance of management and leadership knows that when the two are combined, they set a direction that allows for success within an organization and lifts morale.

In an organization such as Wal-Mart, the roles of management and leadership have always gone hand-in-hand. Managers and leaders work close daily to ensure that the store operations and the warehouse operations run smoothly. Although there are named positions within the company, all are known as associates, from senior management to the door greeter.

Management versus Leadership

According to (McCrimmon, 2007), management is the organization function that gets things done efficiently to gain the best return on all resources. Management is not always about managing a group of people. Management is all about getting the best results on a project for a successful outcome.

Wal-Mart’s management teams strive to ensure that the needs of the customers’ and associates’ are met. A strong value that has always held within the company is the Sundown Rule. This rule is the observance that the company will do their best to answer a question or concern before the close of business the day of reception. This is where the teamwork of the entire company comes into play, and efforts are combined to resolve any issues.

It has long been debated that there is no difference between management and leadership. However, it is obvious that the two are very different. Even though they work together at times, they still serve different purposes.


The job management cannot be seen as the same task every day. Managers’ jobs change from day to day. Although daily operations must be monitored, at times it takes delegating these jobs to others so that management can dwell on other tasks of greater importance.

Leaders, on the other hand, do the majority of the persuasion within the company. They can be seen as the ones to get others to change their direction. According to (McCrimmon, 2007, p. 7), “the best way to stimulate innovation is to encourage all employees to show leadership by promoting new products or services.”

Roles of Managers and Leaders

It is the belief of Wal-Mart’s management that in order to meet the needs of customers and associates, open communication is critical (Wal-Mart Corporation, 2010). This is done through the Open Door policy, which allows associates to voice suggestions and concerns with management without feeling threatened or that they will be retaliated against. This policy has solved many problems, and made way for great ideas within the company.

Wal-Mart’s founder, Sam Walton, believed that “effective leaders do not lead from behind their desks” (Wal-Mart Corporation, 2010). He believed in the importance of leaders taking the initiative to stand out and motivate and listen to the associates to help create morale. This is why in many stores managers are seen out on the sales floor interacting with customers.

Another role that managers and leaders take within the organization is that of the power of teamwork. The ability to work together in such a diverse setting with so many different voices and opinions can sometimes cause conflict. However, Wal-Mart associates, managers, and leaders always seem to pull together as a team to serve the customer and each other.

Four Functions of Management

Management is the process of working with people and resources to accomplish organizational goals (Bateman, 2009). In order for managers to be effective, they must achieve organizational goals. These goals are traditionally known as the four functions of management. The four functions of management include planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Wal-Mart uses the four functions of management as well as its own three basic beliefs: (1) strive for excellence, (2) respect for the individual, and (3) service to the customer (Mars, 2004).

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Planning is defined as the act of making decisions about goals and activities for an organization. Organizations need a plan to set the stage for actions and other achievements. According to (Lewis, Goodman, & Fandht, 1998), plans provide a foundation for coordinating and directing the activities of the organization so that goals can be achieved. At Wal-Mart, managers and leaders work on a daily basis to plan for the organizational functions of the business.

Organizing means to assemble and coordinate the people, money, physical attributes, and information needed for companies to achieve goals. When companies do not organize properly, plans fall through and success fails. Wal-Mart has attracted associates to its organization and customers to its stores because of its desire to succeed.

When referring to the function of leading, it is mainly the act of stimulation. A good leader has to have the ability to motivate and communicate with employees. This ability can be seen within Wal-Mart’s human resources associates, who are also classified as leaders in the organization.

The last function of management is controlling. The purpose of controlling is to monitor the performance and make changes necessary for organizational success. Management of Wal-Mart can be thought of as the controlling function, because their job is to plan, organize, lead, and control the activities of the organization so that goal can be achieved (Lewis, Goodman, & Fandht, 1998).

Recommended Management and Leadership Strategies

It is important for management and leadership to participate in planning at all levels within the company. The levels of planning that Wal-Mart continues to participate in are strategic, tactical, operational, and contingency. Two strategies that organizational managers and leaders can use to create and maintain a healthy organizational culture within the company are to continue with the same three basic beliefs and values that Sam Walton started the company with in 1962 and also to continue to believe in open communication.

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The three basic beliefs and values- respect for the individual, service to our customers and striving for excellence is what the Wal-Mart culture is based upon. These beliefs and values are what make the company the worlds most admired. This is evident in the tremendous worldwide growth over the past 49 years.

The belief in open communication can fall under a few different areas. The first area that will be analyzed is the Open Door Policy. This policy states “associates are free to share suggestion, ideas and voice concerns, whether it’s help with a problem, guidance or a direction, or simply getting an answer to a question (Wal-Mart Corporation, 2010).” At no time will managers treat associates with bias during open door and confidentiality will be maintained.

Another area that management and leadership can possibly build upon is that of the recent legal issues that have affected the company. By continuing to listen to all associates concerns and voicing those concerns to higher leadership, this can alleviate a lot of the discriminatory issues that many employees experience. It is important for leadership to step up and be the voice in each establishment of the company. By letting the associates know that sexual discrimination will not be tolerated and that all associates will have a fair chance at qualified jobs.

Wal-Mart is a dominating factor in the retail industry, which makes determining strategies that will create and maintain a healthy organizational culture difficult. However, it does appear that the company shows room for improvement. Even though the company is at the top place in sustainability, and they have over 7800 Sam’s club and store locations with over 2 million associates, it is still important to ensure that the organizational culture of the company is maintained. It takes management, leadership, and associates working together in a retail giant such as Wal-Mart for the company to be successful, that is the teamwork and servant leadership that Sam Walton believed in.

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