Management Essays – Management Coach

Management Coach

Taking the role of a management coach, you have been requested to analyse the leadership style of a specific business leader. Outline the process of the individual’s leadership through a period of change and critically evaluate the outcome of the leadership approach in the organisation. Support your briefing paper with reference to a significant range of leadership and organisational development theories. Leadership, management style, organisational and national culture, organisational structure communication, team management and ethic/values are likely to be addressed. Identify and evaluate how a knowledge of leadership and or and organisational development can improve a manager’s efficiency and effectiveness in managing an enterprise. You are encouraged to take a holistic perspective and provide a critique of contemporary research and practice.

An essential part in the running of an organisation is directing the efforts of their members towards the goals and objectives. This involves the process of Leadership. In simple terms leadership can be interpreted as getting others to follow or getting people to do things willingly or more specifically, the use of authority in decision-making. This essay will consider theoretical accounts of leadership behaviour and compare them to the chosen leader. The organisation that has been chosen is the Disney Corporation. Since the company was formed there have been two charismatic, but strikingly different leaders.

A few years ago the Walt Disney Company was famous for a little mouse, a collection of vintage animated films for children, and two aging theme parks. Today, the sun never sets on the Disney entertainment empire. Along with its animation business, creator of blockbusters such as Beauty and the Beast, Disney now owns three other studios. After a problematic start Disney has exported the park business to Japan and France. There are two new Disney cruise ships, Wonder and Magic, and 725 Disney stores at locations all around the world. The driving force behind Disney’s metamorphosis has been Michael Eisner, who became CEO and chairman in 1984 after a brief but intense battle for the position (Wetlaufer, S. 2000).

The founder of the organisation Walt Disney, employed the best talent available, and by means of his own drive and enthusiasm, encouraged them to reach new heights. Walt Disney strived to maintain absolute, unchallenged control over every detail of his empire. Employees worked under an autocratic visionary; they expected big ideas and decisions to come from the top. When Walt Disney died in 1966, the company floundered creatively and financially for years. There were competent, dedicated people in management and talented, hard-working artists in the creative departments, but there was no vision, no leadership (Hightower, D. 1993).

The choice of Michael Eisner as CEO of Disney has been a triumph of creativity in American business. Choosing creativity over financial know-how was a tremendous risk, but it has paid off: in the past eight years, revenue has grown on averaged 25 percent annually, Disney stock has increased tenfold in value and the company has been transformed into the world’s most successful entertainment empire. For the first time in Disney’s history, an “outsider” was going to run the company (Hightower, D. 1993).

Leadership is different from management; company leaders in action illustrate the practice of leadership. It is not just leadership that is required, both management and leadership are needed. However, during times of high-stakes change, organisations will fail without widespread good leadership (Coyle, J. 2000). Managers promote stability within an organisation, while leaders press for change.

An organisation requires leadership at all levels, from the Directors board down to the Shop floor and cleaners. However, leadership is not a uniform command, for example the Waitress’ on the Shop floor will not receive identical commands and relationships from their manager as someone working in the finance department would from his or her manager. There are different forms of leadership and behaviour from which manager’s can implement to what they feel best suits the situation. The type of leadership adopted at different levels is a crucial part in achieving the aims and objectives and thus the success of the company (Burnes, B. 2000).

Webber (n.d.) defined the types of authority of leaders in organisations into three categories, (1) Traditional, authority is legitimised by custom, and belief in the right to rule. There are traditional proper right to rule, example of this is the sovereignty, the church or a paternalistic employer. (2) Charismatic organisations, authority is legitimised by the quality of the leader, there strengths, personality and inspiration. There is a need for some routine; with the demise of the leader the organisation can change structure unless another charismatic leader is found, (3) Bureaucratic organisations, authority is based on the acceptance of the formal rules, the law within the organisation, authority comes from the hierarchical position within the organisation, examples of this are the armed forces and schools (Webber (n.d.) cited in Mullins, L, 2005: 77).

Transformational leaders are able to effectively communicate their vision to an organisation and provide an environment where individuals are empowered to achieve that vision. Instead of telling employees what to do, transformational leaders provide the tools that can help employees achieve greatness. A subset of transformational leadership is charismatic leadership, which is built on the idea that sheer force of personality can be enough to provide leadership to an organisation and inspire high levels of personal loyalty from employees to leaders. The Disney Company has had two charismatic leaders in its history: Walt Disney and Michael Eisner. Disney’s tenure was followed by lacklustre performance at the company after his death, and none of the executives at the organisation possessed a personality strong enough to replace the founder (Mullins, L. 2005).

The trait approach assumes that the leaders are outstanding through their specific personality traits, cognitive abilities, interpersonal styles and other ability factors that distinguish them. This concept implies that “leaders are rather born than made”. Grint (2000) argued, There is no hope for those of us, not born with certain gifts or talents for leadership (Grint, K. 2000). The research done by Fleischman and Harris (1962) found two explicit behaviours: consideration and task-orientation. The first factor, consideration, involves a high regard for the leaders subordinates, sharing ideas and incorporating the subordinates as close as possible into the area they are involved. The second one, task-orientation, is mainly connected with the production and ignoring the subordinates to a great extend (Fleischman and Harris (1962) cited in Grint, K. 2000).

The relatively new concept of charismatic leadership is based on the belief that the leader can broaden the awareness and interest of his/her followers. Consequently, the aims of the leader are of greater importance and are placed prior to the personal goals. Steers (1996) defines charismatic leadership as “a special quality that enables the leader to mobilise and sustain activity within an organisation through specific personal actions combined with perceived characteristics”. Employees are motivated by charisma beyond their original expectations. This is done in three ways, awareness about certain key issues and processes are raised, organisational goals are placed above the own interests and adjusting the needs level, so they have a stronger drive for responsibility, challenge and personal growth (Steers, R, 1996:693).

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Strength in Grint (2000) theory is it does not introduce quantifiable factors; hence it cannot be treated as a rigid science, such as Mathematics. Grint says that leadership is essential an interpretative affair, it casts doubt upon those claiming scientific legitimations for their claims and buttresses an approach to leadership that firmly within the arts not the sciences. It is not a rigid formula that applies to all leaders (Grint, K. 2000). Therefore the more “scientific” our methods of analysis become, the less likely we are to understand leadership because it is not accessible to scientific approaches. Taking this statement into considerations, it is clear that the charismatic leadership approach is a significant development, since it does not try to quantify. Henry Mintzberg discussed that the behaviour is hard to reconcile, on the surface at least, with traditional notions of what top managers do. It is hard to fit the behaviour into categories like planning, organizing, controlling, directing, or staffing (Henry Mintzberg Cited in Kotter. J 1999).

Even when times are hard, work was fun and exciting, and this has been incorporated in Eisner’s management style. But there are limits to the autonomy. Senior management delegates authority, not autonomy, downward in the organisation. Sometimes in large companies, too much gets delegated, especially now that empowerment is the rage. Eisner stated I just believe that those with the most experience should be given the most opportunity to handle really tough situations, these situations can put a company or a division at risk (Eisner, M. cited in Wetlaufer, S. (2000). So autonomy has its place. Delegation has its place. But sometimes you have to push problems back up to the top. Otherwise, you just might bump into the biggest corporate problem of all.

Eisner, M. (2002) described what the most important areas of management are (1) you’ve got to be an example. (2)You’ve got to be there. (3)You’ve got to be a nudge, which is another word for motivator, really. (4) And you’ve got to show creative leadership, you have to be an idea generator, all the time, day and night (Eisner, M. (2000) cited in Wetlaufer, S. 2000). That’s not really a role. It’s an underlying responsibility, it’s always there. Leading by example also means showing a combination of enthusiasm and loyalty to the institution, and it certainly means demanding excellence in the organisation (Wetlaufer, S. 2000).

The two fundamental challenges to a manager are to (1) figure out what to do despite uncertainty and an enormous amount of potentially relevant information. (2) Get things done through a large and diverse group of people despite having little direct control over most of them. These challenges have severe implications for the traditional management functions of planning, staffing, organizing, directing, and controlling. To tackle challenges, effective general managers rely on agenda setting and network building. The best ones assertively seek information (including bad news), skilfully ask questions, and seek out programs and projects that can help accomplish multiple objectives. When a new manager starts their role they spend a considerable amount of time establishing their agendas. Effective executives develop agendas that are made up of loosely connected goals and plans that address their long, medium, and short-term responsibilities (Kotter, J.1999).

This pattern of network-building is typical of a manager’s role and is aimed at more than just direct subordinates. Managers develop cooperative relationships with and among peers, outsiders, their bosses’ boss, and their subordinates’ subordinates. Indeed, they develop relationships with (and sometimes among) any and all of the hundreds or even thousands of people on whom they feel in some way dependent. Just as they create an agenda that is different from, although generally consistent with, formal plans, they also create a network that is different from, but generally consistent with, the formal organisational structure (Kotter, J.1999). This networking commence as soon as Eisner was appointed, gaining valuable contacts within the organisation.

Managers of organisations have responsibility to get the strategic intent right, not just for the advantage of the organisation. Drucker (1989) discussed the responsibility of management as being decisive not only for the enterprises itself, but for the Managements’ public standing.for the very future of our economic and social system and the survival of enterprise. The decisions that managers make, do not just affect the organisation, they have an affect on the whole of society, with ethical, environmental and social considerations. Misjudged and misguided strategies have in the past brought down organisations both financially and in their reputation, damaging the public’s opinion of them (Drucker (1989) cited in Mullins 2005:214).

Therefore strategic decisions are likely to affect the operational level of an organisation, which needs to be in tune with long term goals of the organisation. This factor is important in decision making; firstly if the operational level is not in line with the strategic level this can cause conflict and jeopardise the strategy, secondly it is at the operational of an organisation that the real strategy is achieved (Johnson G &, Scholes, K 2004).

The Walt Disney Company continues to prosper, by maintaining and ever improving quality standards across the board. Walt Disney’s Employee Forum is a publication created not only to motivate employees but to discuss past, present, and future accomplishments of the company. Disney’s large corporation has very detailed and clear segmentation, and strives for quality in every product. Others in the entertainments industry, including, for example, Time Warner, MCA, and DreamWorks, also have their own unique quality factors. It is this differentiation and distinctiveness that may be the key to their recognition for what they do, and why they are so good (Anonymous1997).

Successful organisations are fluid, forever moving and adjusting to the market forces. From the previous years performance new goals are set, brining in innovative fresh activities that make the organisation more effective. These criteria include increased employee versatility/flexibility; increase of expertise; broadening of the market base; increasing production capacity; improved production economy; and the ability to respond to change. Although some of these decisions are at a strategic level, others will show results with the year. These can be measured to ensure that the strategies are working for the organisation (Mullins, L, 2005).

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Creativity can be one of the key drivers in business today. At the Walt Disney Company, creativity is not just a tool or a technique to increase productivity; it is the heart of the business. The creative process is practiced and nurtured at Disney, and the application of a similar approach could dramatically impact businesses in a multitude of industries (Hightower, D. 1993). Eisner stated that Disney is a company built on a powerful combination of institutionalised creative friction, an environment that produces a constant stream of ideas and good, old-fashioned common sense. Together, he stated conflict and common sense yield creativity, and creativity has a way of cleaning up the balance sheet and making the income statement shine very brightly” (Eisner, M. cited in Wetlaufer, S. (2000).

The opinion that all knowledge is viewed as objects to the organisation, and therefore can pass between different states, has contributed to the focus of knowledge management systems (KMS) that they should be ‘externalised’ and ‘merged’ with tacit forms of knowledge. This theory is backed up by Cohendet et al.’s (1999) recent attention to the ‘codification of experience, know-how and localised tacit knowledge’ Through the processes of conversion between employees triggers the process of intuiting, interpreting, and integrating them into the organisation (Cohendet et al 1999:523).

Healthy organisations would like to be viewed as containing harmonious working relations, committed to working together towards the common goal. Conflict is a reality within the organisational climate; therefore conflict has to be managed. The most specific level the culture of the organisation can be seen as the aggregation of the cognitive interpretations of the organisation workforce, conflict can reveal itself. This conflict arises from the personalities and experience of the individuals, together with the interactions between employees that can cause distortion (Hamlin, B. et al 2000).

Diversity is a great force toward creativity. For many, Disney has made its members, (that is what they call employees) a diverse group of people. The more diverse an organisation, the more diverse are the opinions that get expressed, which sometimes create friction, and friction slows down the machine. When the machine slows down, good things can happen. If it is just sliding along with no friction, you get the easy solution; you get mediocrity. We work very hard on getting diversity at the top of the organization, and like many organisations we still have room to improve. That will make us more creative. This diversity is not just about skin colour or ethnic background, it is diversity in point of view. They encourage individualism, wanting employees who view the world differently (Wetlaufer, S. 2000).

This whole business starts with ideas that come out of an environment of supportive conflict, which is synonymous with appropriate friction. This is an environment where people are not afraid to speak their minds or be irreverent. Uninhibited discussion gets ideas, which can be look at, made better or just get rid of them (Eisner, M. cited in Wetlaufer, S. 2000). Corporate creativity requires an innately creative leader and the managerial capability to syndicate creativity at the organisational level (Hightower, D. 1993).

Cultural descriptions distinguish one organisation from another, and influence the people in the company as individuals as well as company performance. Such “culture” is a diffuse and nebulous notion, encompassing the underlying values, beliefs and principles of the personnel as they are expressed within the management, structure and practices (B Fletcher, & F Jones, 1992). Although Trompenaars suggests that all societies view time in different ways which may in turn influence business activities. The American dream is the French nightmare. Americans generally start from zero and what matters is their present performance and their plan to make it in the future. This is noveau riche for the French who prefer the ancien pauvre; they have an enormous sense of the past. This clash in national culture between the organisation and the country it is in, was experienced by the Disney corporation when they first tried to expand into new markets (F, Trompenaars (n.d) cited in N, Brealey, 1993:66).

The Aston School points to convergence of organisational culture. An example of this is the work of Hickson et al which suggests that there is a relationship between factors such as size/technology and structures which transcends culture. A bureaucracy in all societies and bureaucratic structures are more likely to occur in particular sectors of the economy. Other Commentators have followed Kerr et al who suggest that industrial or post-industrial societies would in any case become more alike as they are developed in the future. The contrary argument that culture does matter when studying organisational behaviour can be seen in the work of Geert Hofstede. During his work Hofstede identified four dimensions of culture; power distance; uncertainty; avoidance; individualism; and masculinity (Hofstede, G 1980).

Ensuring that Disney cast members are committed and motivated, and that they behave appropriately, is the most challenging part of Eisner’s role (Wetlaufer, S. 2000 a). There are various cultural and structural factors that have a direct affects on organisations that can impinge on the very success of the organisation. These are highlighted when an organisation attempts to redefine itself, to change their image in an attempt to maintain or to enhance their competitive capabilities (L Gratton, 1999).

Creating a worldwide brand also means creating a common vision and, to create synergy among its businesses worldwide, Disney runs a program, Disney Dimensions, for senior executives drawn from every division of the company to ensure they work in a common aim. Eisner describes this program as a “synergy boot camp”. Participants have eight days of meetings, covering every aspect of the business. They dress up as Disney characters, oversee the catering, learn how beds are made and spend time in all the different Disney divisions learning what these do and how they work. Basically they are learning for 16 hours a day how to do every single job in the business (Wetlaufer, S. (2000 a).

Disney entertains people, so an energised culture is encouraged. This is reinforced in weekly meetings that anyone could offer up an idea and gets other people to react to it. These are big, unruly, disruptive meetings, which supports institutionalised conflict. The honesty in the teams and culture is vital in this culture. This is in the environment where criticism goes up as well as down. In this culture where every one is equal, there is no pecking order it produces creativity (Wetlaufer, S. 2000). Managers achieve more indirect influence through symbolic methods. They use meetings, language, stories about the organisation, even architecture, in order to get some message across indirectly. The symbols of the Disney Corporation are everywhere, reinforcing the values to employees (Kotter, J.1999).

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An important aspect that adds to organisational effectiveness is synergy, when the whole performance is greater that the performance of the individual components, that the performance of the organisation outstrips the performance of the individual, this is positive synergy (Mullins. L. 2005).Positive synergy occurs when two or more processes or activities complement each other. The concept of synergy can be considered and implemented by changing the links that bind certain departments together, linking new departments together (Johnson G, &, Scholes K, 2004).

Mullins (2005) stated that his could lead to a broadly and powerfully defined culture which is strongly customer focused and capable of leap frogging the competition through continual and radical innovation’ (Mullins, L. 2005:256). Synergy occurs at Disney, because they all pull together. The products scream out for synergy. When launching a new product it is on the cover of our magazines, on the Disney channels around the world and displayed in the windows of the shops. All employees around the world know what is happening and are involved (Wetlaufer, S. 2000).

Classical writers discussed the organisation in terms of its purpose, with its formal structure; the hierarchy of the organisation. The emphasis placed on planning work, achieving this through managing the technical requirements, and the presumption of logical and rational behaviour from within the organisation. Each individual classical writer puts forward their own interpretation of similar theories (Mullins, L 2005). Baker (1972) discussed these principals as it offered simple principals which claimed general application it also followed architectural and literary styles which emphasised formality, symmetry and rigidity (R Baker (1972) cited in Buchanan D and Huczynski A 1991: 430) The Disney Corporation treats its members with reverence, respecting the individual’s diversity. However the uniform of its customer facing members demonstrates rigidity within the structure.

Although the payment received from the employer is not the sole motivator it satisfies the contract of employment. Hegewisch (1991) wrote the pay packet is one of the most visible expression of the employment relationship, its main issue is the exchange between employer and employee, expressing a connection between the labour market, the individuals work and the performance of employing the organisation itself(Hegewisch (1991) cited in Beardwell I & Holden L 1994 :500). The organisation pays employees well; their reasoning was to compensate employees enough so they didn’t have to worry about money. This way, they argued, employees were made able to do their job, service the customer. Tom Peters focuses on this point when discussing closeness to the customer. To overspend on service people keeps customers happy and Disney knows what its customers like. It may cost Disney a lot and be unprofitable in the short run, but the company looks to the long run to keep those customers (Tom Peters cited in Anonymous1997).

As the first leader in the Disney Corporation that is not a family member Michael Eisner has turned the organisation around. The success is world wide, with new products being launched continually. Michael Eisner style of leadership is completely the reverse of the way the organisation had been run.

Ultimately, Michael Eisner is seeking to generate enthusiasm and involvement among Disney employees. Enthusiasm and involvement leads to motivated employees. This is achieved through reinforcing the culture of fun and innovation. The employees are paid well, to motivate them and to reduce financial worries that could impinge on their performance. Although creativity and innovation is encouraged it could be argued that the knowledge of the employees is viewed as objects to the organisation.

Eisner’s leadership is transformational and charismatic. Transformational leaders provide the tools that can help employees achieve greatness. There are networks in place that increase the synergy within the organisation, all employees knows what the strategic plans are.

Although the organisation has been reformed, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal. Michael Eisner values the ideas of every individual and endeavours to offer a creative, fun environment in which they may ultimately see their ideas grow and take shape, adding to the Disney magic and of course, the bottom line


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