Alan Mulally, CEO Ford Motor Company
May 11, 2011
Discuss the role of leadership and how it can impact organizational performance.
Leadership is commonly defined as establishing a clear vision, communicating the vision with others and motivating individuals to complete the company??™s vision. Leadership impacts organizational performance depending on the level of which the leader enables managers and team leaders to plan, organize, control, and act effectively. By accepting authority, responsibility, and accountability, managers can confidently deal with situations when decisions are required to be made. Both the manager and subordinate understand how to distinguish right from wrong by using sound judgment. Also, the leader should identify their own strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan continue to enhance their strengths and strengthen their weak areas.
Three types of leadership are common in an organization: authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire. Each type of leadership impacts organizational performance differently. Authoritarian leadership is commanding and sets clear expectations for employees in the organizational. Democratic leadership encourages feedback and input from managers or employees regarding organizational performance. Laissez-faire is a hands-off approach, where managers and employees work according to their own preference and schedule. This leadership style can lead to poor motivation and work practices.
Communication is key to success in any leadership role. Leaders need to address the importance of open communications within the organization. Active listening, questioning, and placing emphasis on verbal and written communications between management and subordinates ensures the company stays on track with the organization??™s goal. Recognizing individuals and emphasizing team differences will help the leader achieve a successful career with the organization.
Discuss Mulally??™s leadership style at Ford Motor Company and provide examples of how his actions fit this style.
Prior to arriving at Ford, Mulally studied up on Ford like a student cramming for an exam, interviewing dozens of employees, analyst and consultants. He created a strategic plan with specific goals for the company. He moved the company towards those goals and installed a management system to make sure the company reaches those goals.
By providing direction, open communication, and building motivation among employees, Mulally operated under the Selling style of leadership. He stressed communication constantly by stating, ???Everyone has to know the plan, its status and areas that need special attention.??? (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011). He held weekly meetings and required all functional disciplines to be present. He established rules within the meetings and incorporated color charts. He is a successful leader who expects the best of himself and others and seeks to understand rather than to be understood.
I believe Mulally used an authoritarian leadership style by commanding and setting clear expectations for employees in the organizational. I also believe that once he had established his expectations he switched to a democratic leadership by encourages feedback and input from managers or employees regarding organizational performance. His leadership styles have won him support throughout the organization and have had a positive affect the Ford organization. The Manufacturing VP stated that Mulally brings infectious energy and people want to follow. Even Bill Ford commented on Mulally??™s leadership saying, ???Alan is not a very complicated person. He is very driven.??? (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2011).
Discuss how goal setting helped Ford improve its performance.
Mullaly set the leadership tone for Ford by developing a mission and a set of values and goals by which to operate the company. His goals were: Foster Functional and Technical Excellence, Own Working Together, Role Mode Ford Values, Deliver Results. He also revised the definition of the company??™s One Ford motto to: One Team, One Plan, One Goal. To ensure all employees knew and understood the goals, he created a plastic card with four goals on one side and revised definitions on the opposite side.
Mullaly envisioned a new direction for Ford. His strategy focused on the Ford brand and the goal of competing in every market with carefully defined products. He convinced Bill Ford sell off Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin all of which are considered luxury cars to focus a line of more efficient cars such as the Ford Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta. He also envisioned Ford??™s core North America operations as well as the entire company will be profitably by 2011. He borrowed against Ford assets for extra cash which enabled Ford to decline government loans and retain its independence. He revived the Ford Taurus.
He has made sure that everyone knows the plan at Ford and expects open communication from team members. There are no more secretes within the company and Mullaly??™s see problems as opportunity to change the course of action. If something goes wrong with the plan, then Mullaly??™s wants managers to change the plan. Thus, Ford has become more efficient in identifying problems and seeking better results.
Assess Mulally on each element in communication openness including message transmission, trust, agendas and goals.
According to the textbook, people are more likely to incorporate values and principles that distinguish right from wrong in communications through effective dialogue. The barriers to effective communication such as noise, confusing semantics, inappropriate language routines, and lying will be reduced when dialogue takes place. Mullaly is an assertive communicator who expresses what he thinks, feels, and believes while respecting other people??™s views. He provides constructive feedback, self-disclosure, and active listening. He also places high emphasis on communication openness at Ford. He transmits open messages to employees through high trust, shared agendas, and revealed goals.
Evaluate the effectiveness of Mulally??™s leadership style and recommend whether he should continue with this style, or use a different style.
Alan Mullaly is a very effective leader and should continue with his style. His goal is to integrate the company globally despite several failed attempts in the past. He understands the threat of punishment and top-down managerial controls are not the only means for achieving organizational goals. At his Thursday meetings, Mullaly listens and provides constructive criticism to his managers when problems are presented. He instills in them a great sense of motivation and cooperation. He believes in team work and good corporate citizenship. Mullaly knows that communicating clearly, concisely, and candidly with one another will deliver positive. Mullaly is a Theory Y leader whose decisions and sound judgments have helped Ford separate itself from its major competitors.
Hellrielgel, D., & Slocum, J. W., Jr. (2011). Organizational behavior: 2011 custom edition (13th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.