Discuss about the Culture and Organization for Leadership and Employee.
Virgin Atlantic is one of the leading international airline companies in the world. It is a British corporation that falls under the Virgin Group of companies whose founder is the business tycoon Richard Branson (Schein 2012).Virgin Atlantic was established in the early 1980s as a result of the meeting discussion between Richard Branson and Randolph Fields, whose objective was to create an airline that would operate between the United Kingdom and the United States. Popularly known at that time as one of the prominent personalities in the rock and pop music, Richard Branson vision as leader was to create an opportunity of diversifying his business career(Abdi &Sharma 2011). His cultural beliefs, coupled with enthusiasm and characteristic energy guided this business mogul to establish and inaugurate the Virgin Atlantic first flight in 1984. In the early 1980s, the top priority in the airline industry was transportation services and not quality customer services. When Virgin Atlantic entered into the aviation sector in 1984, it based its services on satisfying the diverse needs of its clients and therefore, it developed strategies aimed at providing quality services to airline travelers at relatively low costs. Based in Heathrow and Gatwick airports in London, the company operates its flights from Heathrow to New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Delhi, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. Moreover, Virgin Atlantic operates its flights from Gatwick to other major cities across the globe such as St. Lucia, Orlando, Barbados, Grenada, Port Harcourt, Las Vegas and Antigua. The company also plans to create other new airline routes in other countries including Cuba and Nigeria. The company has pioneered some innovations in the aviation industry and setting new standards of customer services, which have given it a competitive advantage in this competitive business sector (Russ 2011). This report will particularly evaluate the impact of leadership style (Robert Branson’s style) on company culture (Virginia Atlantic) and explain how he played a role in changing the culture and bring innovation.
Outline of the theoretical framework selected
The theoretical framework chosen for the discussion of the impact of leadership style on organization culture is GLOBE. The term GLOBE is an acronym for Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness. GLOBE project is a study which was conducted by Robert House in 1991(Herbane 2011). This theoretical framework is utilized in the study of the relationship between the societal culture and leadership in a particular business organization using multi-method and multiphase research projects. Hence, the components of the GLOBE framework are relevant to the purpose of the report. This theatrical framework is divided into two main categories which include the cultural dimensions of global leadership and culturally endorsed implicit leadership. The GLOBE framework identified nine dimensions based on which the companies culture depends which are as follows:
Uncertainty avoidance- This dimension emphasizes on approaches that the organization utilizes to avoid the unpredictable event that can have a negative impact on its operations (Zhang & Bartol 2011). The organizations whose corporate culture is based on uncertainty avoidance always strive to minimize the chances of the occurrences of the unpredictable events such as natural catastrophes such as Hurricane, Tsunami, accident, and outbreak of contiguous diseases. Apart from natural disaster, other unforeseen uncertainties that most of the organizations try to avoid are terrorism, political instability, and global economic crisis (Hartnell, Ou & Kinicki 2011). The aviation industry has experienced such challenges which have negatively affected some the aviation industries. For instance, the September 9 terrorist attack in the United States attack leads the crush of o passenger airplanes that lead to the destruction of properties and loss of many lives. Also, the outbreak of Ebola in some African countries forced most of the airline companies to suspend some of its airline travels in the affected countries in response to the international airline management body directives. The objective of suspension of airways travels in these countries was a strategy of prevention of the spread of the Ebola virus in another country (Hickson & Owen 2015). These incidences led to the financial loss most of the companies in the aviation industry due to the reduction in the number passengers within this particular period. The Virgin Atlantic company has gained some lessons from such experiences and has developed strategies to address such challenges so as to avoid adverse economic crisis that can affect its operations. For instance, the company partners with security and intelligence agencies of various countries, to get crucial information of the security status in the countries in which it operates to avoid potential terrorist attacks(Herbane 2011).
Assertiveness- This global leadership dimension is concerned with organizational cultures in which the members of a particular business enterprise experience insistent and aggressive relationships. This category of GLD has split assertiveness into two forms; high and low assertiveness. High assertiveness refers to the ability of the members of the organization to air out their feelings and perceptions towards a particular issue without fear. Individuals with high assertiveness can differ with other another while focusing on such traits as likeability and problem-solving skills (Bell& Kozlowski 2012). Citizens from countries such as Singapore, Germany, and China are considered to be of high assertiveness. On the other Koreans, Russians and Brazilians are of low assertiveness.
Institutional collectivism- It encourages collective allocation of resources in the organization. Institutional collectivism also lays emphasis on the importance of teamwork in realization of attainment of the goals of the organization. All the departments of the organization work together as a team to ensure that all the operations of the company run smoothly will minimal interruptions and disruptions (Lunenburg 2011).
Group collectivism- It concerns with the level of how members of the business organization show superiority and faithfulness to the management. An individual with high in-group collectivism displays high levels of cohesiveness, cooperation, and commitment to the organization. Such people have high levels of job satisfaction and job retention thus they contribute to reduced turnover rates in the company(Alvesson & Sveningsson 2015).
Future orientation- It is concerned with the extent to which the members of the organization can engage in oriented functions such planning, capitalizing and planning for the future events. The organizations which are future-oriented focus on planning as well as preparing for unpredictable future events. The company develops long-term strategic plans that help them to address the unexpected future challenges and thus avoiding unprecedented losses.
Power distance- It focuses on the degree to which the participants of a particulate company acknowledge that the leadership power needs to be distributed equally within the organization. This aspect of GLD leads to the formulation of leadership style that is applied in the administration of a particular organization (Laeequddin 2011).
Performance orientation- It is the approach by which performance improvement and excellence is used by means of rewards and other forms of encouragement in society. High performance oriented societies have characteristics of value training, explicit communication and regard formal feedback as very important, whereas the low oriented societies value family relationship and harmony within the environment (Diehl et al. 2014).
Gender differentiation- Gender difference is defined as the role of gender differentiation and preference in societal development and goal achievement.
Humane orientation- It is related to the degree to which a society rewards individual for being fair and altruistic.
Rational for choosing the framework
The rationale for choosing the GLOBE theory for this essay is that the researchers for this theory based their study in a wide geographical area and involved many business companies. Therefore, this theory is very relevant to the Virgin Atlantic because it is a multinational corporation handling clients from diverse cultural backgrounds across the globe. Other theories that explain organizational culture include Hofstede’s theory and Schein’s model. These theories have not been selected for the study because only explains the cultural components of the organization without shading light on the leadership aspect of the organization, whereas the central focus of this essay is to evaluate the impact of leadership style on organizational culture. Hence, Hofstede’s model gives little idea about the critical role of Virgin Atlantic’s leader in building effective organizational culture and achieving organizational goals. On the other hand, Schein’s model is not relevant to the Virgin Atlantic because it only explains the cultural dimension of the organizations according to strategic goals and philosophies and not according to leadership style. Hence this model is not relevant for the topic content of this essay.
Discussion of central topic
Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Atlantic had a very dynamic leadership style and he is highly renowned for the success of his bran, Virgin. His brand Virgin, covered a variety of business starting from airlines to bridal wear, mobiles phones, pension plans and music. His varied business indicates he became stronger with diversification in business. According to GLOBE’s findings, leader effectiveness lies in the societal as well as the organizational context. Hence according to country and society context, the impact of Richard Branson’s leadership style can be evaluated according to the GLOBE’s nine cultural dimension. It will help to discover his values, beliefs and practices in the creation organization culture (Chhokar et al. 2013). GLOBE’s study mainly gave six leadership styles across cultures and the leadership style of Richard Branson will be evaluated according to the nine dimension analysis.
Richard Branson had a charismatic and transformational style of leadership. The description of work culture of Virgin Atlantic Company will reveal the influence of Richard Branson behind this culture. The organizational culture of a particular business organization provides a roadmap for the employees, managers and other stakeholders towards the realization of the set goals. It reflects the beliefs and values of a leader in the organization (Hogan & Coote, 2014). The vision and mission statement of this British airline corporation reflects its organizational culture and leadership behavior. The aim or Richard Branson was to provide a seamless experience to its clients from booking to disembarking at their respective destinations. Therefore, to achieve this goal, he tried to understand the dynamic needs of the travelers. Another aim of Richard Branson was to provide world class quality innovative services at a fair value for money for the customers from all market segments. He enabled the key stakeholders to enjoy the value of their investments and be more willing to invest and expand the operations of the organizations worldwide. He had put in place strategies that will help it to expand and improve the quality services they offer to the clients. Such strategies include the expansion of the current airline route establishment new routes in the other parties of the world that have not the company has not yet explored (Researchkorner.blogspot.in 2017).
One of the reasons for success of Virgin group is that it’s leader Richard Branson had a clear vision of the brand, its culture and the core mission. As stated by Branson, he regards Virgin as a fun and adventurous brand which offers great value as well as quality. He wanted every employee to at the same page with the brand and follows the same direction. It was also necessary to eliminate any risk in the organization. He also wanted innovative thoughts and ideas for the brand (Urso 2017). Hence this action of Richard Branson reveals the high uncertainty avoidance attribute of the company. Any form of innovation is associated with unpredictable risk and they were prepared for taking this challenge. Therefore, he had performance oriented leadership style and he wished to inspire people around a vision (House et al. 2013).
The culture created by Richard Branson also depicts humane orientation that is encouraging altruistic and fair practice at the organization. Branson spends maximum part of his time on non-profit ventures and he is committed to giving through their company. For example the Virgin Mobile Free Fest is held every year in Columbia and the company focus on donations and charitable works. The leader was also focused on safety issues. Airline companies such as Virgin Atlantic are considered as a source of national pride and often take a critical position in regarding a country’s income and employment opportunities. In this regard, the management of this company works around the clock to ensure that the safety of the passengers is given priority. Fatal injuries and deaths arising from flight accidents can adversely affect the brand image and the operations of the organization and therefore, the leader takes safety as the central focus of its activities (Lunenburg 2011).
Richard Branson is of the idea that Virgin Atlantic is not simply a group of people, it is a representative of desired goals. He gave an institutional collectivism culture by his motivating style of leadership. In order to get the best out of his people, he tried to become a great listener as well as great motivator. He appreciated the efforts of best people and gave chance to employees to flourish in their role. Hence, the institutional collectivism dimension at Virgin Atlantic was about collective action to provide not just a company to employees but also a lifestyle. Richard Branson’s power to motivate employees by his unconventional attitude also led to the rise in individual collectivism work culture. This was also possible also because Branson was clear about what he exactly wanted and he instilled the core vision in all of them who were connected with the organization. He did many meaningful things that motivates employees as well as audience to build their relationship with brand (Urso 2017).
Richard displayed the desired assertiveness and aggressiveness required by a brand to grow and prosper. One of his greatest business attribute was that he projected Virgin as a cool brand. Monet is not a measure of success for him, the excitement that the work offers is. Hence, the staffs of virgin do not have competitive salaries but they enjoy being a part of Virgin. Richard wanted to retain employees by the work culture and not by the power of money which other organizations normally do. He was successful in providing a work culture where everyone was proud to be part of the team. He himself had the belief that business should be fun and the desire to win should be necessary. Therefore his adventurous spirits was infectious and he inspired the staffs to deliver their best. The excitement and challenges in the job kept the employees happy and competitive. It also reflected in the sales and profit margin of Virgin (Abubakar 2016).
Virgin Atlantic had adhocracy culture meaning its business was driven by innovation and such organization is comfortable even during drastic change period. The innovation was possible because Richard gave the staffs the flexibility required to adapt to new ideas without any hassle. Richard was responsible for giving an organizational culture which was now renowned as the counter cultural enterprise. It had low power distance which means the culture was not dominated by unequal power distribution, everyone was recognized for their role in the company. Richard Branson encouraged feedback from employees all level (Azar & Brock 2010). The culture is an example of the ripple effect theory where culture is at the top and the main actions are reinforced by the leader (Ivanov et al. 2014). They have an informal culture were not just the leader but the employee was also accountable for the well-being of the company. This successful culture was built by Richard Branson by means of his entrepreneurial skills and tactical directions (Abubakar 2016).
Gender inequality is low in Virgin Atlantic and all were given the option to give their best performance irrespective of gender or job position. Richard Branson had a transformation style of leadership and he paid least emphasis on hierarchy within companies. His adventurous personality reflects in Virgin’s brand image and organizations culture. He exercised his leadership style in various managements levels within Virgin Atlantic and empowered everyone to contribute towards the goals of the company (Dudovskiy 2017).
Performance orientation is highly seen in Virgin Atlantic. The leader was focused in hiring the right people in the job so that they contribute corporate performance. The culture was developed according to constructivist ideology and product, service and style was given by the employees. Richard gave many liberty to employees which helped in increasing the employee’s loyalty towards the organization. His little attention to hierarchy in the company reveals his participative leadership style. The main components of his leadership style was individual staff consideration, idealized motivation and intellectual stimulation which helped to bring the desired innovation as required according to industry demands. Virgin had an open culture with friendly staffs and this provided encouraging work environment to employees. They always had a high morale and this contributed to success (Abubakar 2016).
Richard Branson believed in reputational branding rather than traditional branding which highly reflect future orientation. He gave consumers innovation, reliability , value for money and adventure at work. With the focus on future, he planned many wise marketing strategies such as generating free media instead of focusing on the conventional promotion style. He manages media events in very unpredictive style which media loves and his brand image was automatically displayed throughout the world. He did not expected his people to follow him blindly, he gave them the liberty to think and innovate. Hence, he was influential in promoting talent from within. While other preferred to grow the size of their organization, he kept the company small. It helped to preserve the unique energy and organizational efficiency. He maximized his entrepreneurial spirit more than bureaucratic skill (Dudovskiy 2017). Therefore, his action truly depicts simple living and high thinking to achieve the pinnacle of success.
The main purpose of this essay was to evaluate the impact of leadership style on Virgin Atlantic’s culture. The GLOBE framework was chosen for conducting the leadership styles analysis and making of the culture of Virgin Atlantic. This analysis revealed the unconventional and transformative leadership style of Richard Branson. He used his entrepreneurial skills and adventurous spirit to create an informal work culture where every staff was proud to work. The work environment was casual and everyone was friendly. A supportive and motivating work climate was given to employees who inspired them to give their best and move ahead in the direction set by Richard Branson. The constructivism approach was used to build the organization culture and a ripple effect was created to pass on the competitive and adventurous work spirit to all work members. Hence, a leader’s role is critical in motivating the team and extracting the desired performance outcome in set time frame.
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