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Leadership and Ethics

Question:

Effective leadership, decision-making and ethical management are linked both in theory and in practice. How may leaders ensure organizational decisions are made ethically?

Effective Leadership is the primary force that leads to the development of an ethical culture and reinforcement of ethical decision making (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2014). Leadership refers to the inherent ability to direct and guide others towards a goal. Leadership is the process of developing ideas and vision, living by values that support those visions, using the inherent charisma to influence others to live by those values and possess the capabilities of making tough decision as and when required. Effective leadership helps organisations in creating a vision which acts as foundation for organisational values. Ethical decision making is a key aspect of effective leadership along with their ability to motivate others to achieve goals.

Ethics is also called as moral philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour (Fisher & Lovell, 2006). It is important to ensure that all professionals abide by the coded of ethics. Ethical leadership leads to the creation of an ethical culture that is serves as a base for ethical decision-making.

This assignment conducts and in-depth analysis of two case studies related to two great leaders Steve Jobs and Allen Mullaly. It analyses the leadership style, ethical management and decision making skills of the two great leaders who were the reason behind the remarkable success witnessed by their respective organisations. Both of them display a very different personality however their inherit charisma and a passion for innovation and success got them worldwide recognition.

Steve Jobs has always been listed as one of the world’s most successful leaders who have had a considerable impact on the society and have redefined the business terms in a way that supported their actions (Adair, 2009). Steve Jobs was the Chairman and CEO of Apple Computers Inc. which he founded in year 1976 in his parent’s garage (Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, 2011). He was forced to leave his position as a CEO in 1985 owing to his personality clashes with others however soon he was called back to assume his position and today is remembered as one of the world’s most successful CEO’s. Steve Jobs without doubt is the key force behind the extraordinary success witnessed by his company. He is recognised worldwide for his leadership style, ethical management and tough decision making.

Steve Jobs presents a perfect example of transformational leadership wherein the leader is expected to anticipate future trends, create a new vision of possibilities, inspire followers in a way that they understand and embrace the created vision, provides ample opportunities so that followers can acquire leadership qualities and become better leaders and developing a organisation into a community of rewarded and challenged learners (Bertocci, 2009). Innovation is the main force behind the success of transformational leaders like Steve Jobs. They are ready to take risks in order to drive change. Steve Jobs is an example of born leaders who possess the inherit charisma to influence others and make things work according to their ways.

Case Study: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs displayed the use of autocratic leadership style wherein the leaders makes his own rules and others are expected to follow his directions without questions (Armstrong & Stephens, 2005). Autocratic leaders are task oriented and consider employees as machines who are used to get work done (Avery & Bergsteiner, 2011). Steve Jobs never looked for inputs from his subordinates; they may be geniuses of bozos but were all indispensible or not relevant in his presence. Use of this leadership style is very helpful in running the businesses in a much organised manner and employees tend to perform better in presence of their leader (Bass & Bass, 2009). However the main disadvantage behind this style is that employees lose their creativity and become completely dependent on leaders ideas. Productivity of such organisation falls considerably when the leader is not present (Bertocci, 2009). Steve Jobs is a controversial leader and would publicly call his competitors evil, mediocre and lacking taste. Steve Jobs was a very persistent leader who believed that innovation is the key to effective leadership.

Ethical leaders possess seven core habits that make them different from others namely; they possess strong personal character, have a passion to do what is right, they are very proactive, they consider interests of all stakeholders, they serve as a model for the organisation’s values, they believe in transparency and are actively involved in decision making and they develop a holistic view of organisation’s ethical culture (Keen, 2012). Deontology theory of ethics describes Steve Jobs ways of ethical management. According to the deontology theory individuals must adhere to obligations and duties when they analyse an ethical dilemma (Weiss, 2008). Steve Jobs was a persistent leader and this is clear from the fact that he even left his position to stick to his values. Steve Jobs is compared to the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky because he had such a pure vision that he was unable to accommodate the imperfections existing in the world (Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, 2011). A number of incidents have been reported wherein Steve Jobs had terminated employees irrespective of their position when they failed to adhere to their duties and company policies. Culture at Apple Computers is described as power culture where ever issue was viewed from a deontological perspective. Steve Jobs displayed strong personal character, was proactive and had a passion to do what is right and he supported transparency as all information was well communicated to employee however their views was given no preference. 

Steve Jobs is one of the best examples of an effective leader with strong ethical management and decision making skills. He has made a number of tough decisions when he was CEO and Chairman of Apple Computers Inc. Some of his decisions were really impressive and has enabled Apple Computers achieve their desired goals; however like every other humans some of his decision were not that impressive and effective. For example his decision to hire John Sculley to succeed himself as CEO of the company was his biggest mistake and resulted in period of slow growth and many product missteps. Steve Jobs decision processes and style matched to that of a micro-manager especially in case of product design decisions (Daft, 2007). With his autocratic leadership style Steve Jobs was called a corporate dictator who took all decisions by himself. There have been cases when during his angry tantrums he fired his subordinates without even giving a second thought over it. Even on personal front Steve Jobs was seen as a stubborn decision maker who wants things to work according his ways. In year 2003 when he was detected with abdominal cancer he choose to go for treatment with a special diet and explored a number of alternatives before actually surrendering for a surgery when things were going out of control. He lived his whole life as a risk takers, innovator and attitude for a born leader.

Steve Jobs' Leadership Style

Alan Mullaly was the CEO of Ford Motor Company and was the key driving force behind the remarkable turnaround of Ford without seeking U.S government financial aid. When Alan Mullaly joined as the CEO of Ford the company was on the verge of financial crisis and was almost about to lose its independence (Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, Organizational Behaviour, 2011). Under the effective leadership of Alan Mullaly Ford Motor not only managed to come over the financial crisis but also capture a huge market share of automobile industry. Alan Mullaly created an organisation culture that served as a competitive advantage against the rivals.

Alan Mullaly presents a perfect example of transactional leadership wherein the leader motivates and directs his followers primarily by appealing to their own self-interest (Bass & Bass, 2009). Transactional leadership emphasizes on the carrot approach wherein performance objectives and goals are effectively communicated to employees and regular feedbacks are provided to them. Alan Mullaly displayed the use of participative leadership style wherein employees were encouraged to actively participate in decision making process and openly share their views             (Borins, 2002). He emphasized on openness and effective communication. He ensured that everyone in the organization is aware of the plan, its status and areas that needed more attention. He possessed the inherit charisma and high positive energy that enabled him to influence his followers. He was greatly appreciated by his followers for his openness that won him large support within the organisation. He had effective team building skills that helped him integrate the company into single global entity (Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, Organisational Behaviour, 2011). Alan Mullaly created a clear vision and values for the company that were effectively communicated to employees and they very influence by his positive energy to live by the values that support his vision. He motivated his employees to strive for functional and technical excellence, work as a team in close coordination with each other, live by ford values and deliver results that met customer expectations. As an effective leader Alan Mullaly believed in communicating inspiring vision, informing others about the values that support the vision, be a role model who lived by those values, think win-win, bring everyone on the same page, always carry a can-do attitude and be result oriented.

Alan Mullaly displayed all the characteristics of an ethical leader, he possessed strong personal character, he was confident, discipline and a fierce desire to win, he had a desire to do what is right, was proactive and considered interest of all stakeholders (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2014). His ethical management can be best explained by utilitarian ethical theory according to which an action is viewed as right or wrong based on its consequence (Fisher & Lovell, 2006). The choice that offers greatest benefit for most of the people is considered the most ethical choice. The development of One Ford model holds true for the fact that Alan Mullaly was a people-oriented leader who respected the rights of his people. He ensured that all the policies and code of conducts of the company are followed rigorously. He provided ample opportunity to his subordinates and employee to realise their full potential and actively participate in decision making. He viewed all employees as members of one team, who had to follow one plan in order to achieve one common goal.

Ethical Management of Steve Jobs

Alan Mullaly is recognised worldwide for his strong decision making and problem solving skills. It was his decisions that helped Ford Motor Company in overcoming a financial crisis and slowly win over their competitors. It was his decision to borrow $23 billion against Ford assets in order to ensure that Ford’s independence is secured. He was the one who suggested Bill Ford to sell Land Rover and Jaguar so that they can focus their resources on Ford brand. It was owing to his strong decision making skills that Taurus is back to showrooms and is one of the best selling products of Ford today. Alan Mullaly believed in effective communication being the key to successful change management and through his openness he was able to win huge support throughout the organization. Owing to his participative leadership style he concerned inputs provided by employees before making any decisions. He was concerned for all stakeholders thus ensured that high decision support interest of all. He decided the Ford will work as a single integrated team thus developed the One Ford Model which is recognised worldwide for its effective results. One Ford Model is studied as a best practice around the world and is used by many other companies to streamline operation and build effective teams so that they can achieve desired organisational goals, develop and retain their competitive advantage (Hellriegel & John W. Slocum, Organisational Behaviour, 2011). Effective decision making is an essential skill that helps differentiating ethical leaders from other leaders and managers. Effective leadership, ethical management and tough decision making as and when required has helped Alan Mullaly develop an organisational culture where employees enjoy coming every day. His inspiring spirit and positive attitude motivated employees to take the ownership of task assigned to them and work in coordination to achieve common goals. 

Conclusion

Ethical decision making and effective leadership goes hand in hand because leaders have the needed skills and expertise to motivate others and enforce policies, norms and view points within the organisation. It is the prime responsibility of ethical leaders like Steve Jobs and Alan Mullaly to ensure that organisational goals and performance objectives are met in an ethical manner. It is seen that ethical leaders as those discussed in the assignment are found to have employees that look at them as role model rather than deviants that create problems within the organisation.

Steve Jobs is an excellent example of transformational leader whose creativity and innovative ideas for the base for exceptionally high growth of Apple Inc. However at times he is seen as an autocratic leader who wants people to work according his ways. He preferred making important decision by himself without consider inputs given by employees. Whatever may be the consequences of his decisions he never repented. Allan Mullaly on the other hand through his participative leadership style and a people-oriented approach has enabled Ford Motor Corporation achieve their desired goals and become one of the world’s largest automobile companies. His inherit charisma and a strong sense of ethics has helped him keep his followers motivated during tough times.

Development of ethical leadership skills need years of experience, training and learning through various best practices of leadership. Steve Jobs and Allan Mullaly have acquired ethical leadership skills through years of hard work, dedication and a passion to create a difference. 

References

Adair, J. (2009). Leadership and Motivation: The Fifty-Fifty Rule and the Eight Key Principles of Motivating Others. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Armstrong, M., & Stephens, T. (2005). A Handbook of Management and Leadership: A Guide to Managing for Results. London: Kogan Page Publishers.

Avery, G. C., & Bergsteiner, H. (2011). Sustainable leadership practices for enhancing business resilience and performance. Strategy and Leadership , 39 (3), 5-15.

Bass, B. M., & Bass, R. (2009). The Bass Handbook of Leadership: Theory, Research, and Managerial Applications. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Bertocci, D. I. (2009). Leadership in Organizations: There is a Difference Between Leaders and Managers. Maryland: University Press of America.

Bonnici, C. A. (2011). Creating a Successful Leadership Style: Principles of Personal Strategic Planning. R&L Education: R&L Education.

Borins, S. (2002). Leadership and innovation in the public sector. Leadership & Organization Development Journal , 23 (8), 467-476.

Daft, R. (2007). The Leadership Experience. New York: Cengage Learning.

Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell. (2014). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making & Cases. New York: Cengage Learning.

Fisher, C., & Lovell, A. (2006). Business Ethics and Values. Essex: Pearson Eductaion Limited.

Hellriegel, D., & John W. Slocum, J. (2011). Organisational Behaviour. New York: Cengage Learning.

Hellriegel, D., & John W. Slocum, J. (2011). Organizational Behaviour. New York: Cengage Learning.

Keen, B. (2012). Applied Business Ethics: Power Living Through the Truth. Bloomington: iUniverse.

Weiss, J. (2008). Business Ethics: A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach. New York: Cengage Learning.

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