1.What leadership style do you feel is exhibited by Richard Branson? Define and discuss the characteristics of the style and cite specific examples from the case to support your argument
2.Define and briefly discuss the ‘Path-goal leadership theory’. (House 1971), (House & Mitchell 1974). House describes four leader behaviours.
3.Discuss how you believe the leadership styles of both Branson and Gou could impact on worker’s motivation, from either a positive or negative perspective
4.If you were a consultant hired to Improve leadership at Foxconn, what changes would you recommend to Terry Gou to create a workplace that is more harmonious, less stressful and less toxic for Employees.
This assignment deals with pros and cons of the two contrasting leadership styles (Transformational and Autocratic) followed by Richard Branson and Terry Gou, in the relationship with the theories of motivation. It discusses the characteristics of the two theories and their relation to the leadership styles of the two leaders. It also deals with the four features of path-goal leadership theory and their connection to Richard Branson and Terry Gou. The report describes the connection of Chinese culture to the success of Autocratic style of leadership.
1.Richard Branson exhibits the Transformational leadership style. In this style of leadership, the leader enhances the morale, performance, and motivation of employees. In this style of leadership the leader, works along with the subordinates to find out the changes required, creating guidance for the change and implementing the change (García-Morales et al. 2012). These types of leaders are able to create a work culture full of trust and innovation. Some of the key characteristics of the transformational leaders are as follows –
Keeping ego in check: It is very essential for the leader of transformational leadership to keep the ego in check and not let it interfere with every topic related to a subordinate. Keeping the ego in check is a great way to bring out the best from the employees. The case study of Richard Branson perfectly proves this point. As stated in the case study, Branson gives respect to employees by stepping back and giving them authority for taking their own decisions. He knows exactly when to intervene and when to step back keeping his ego aside (Grant, 2012).
Self- Management: The transformational leaders possess the capability to manage themselves well. They do not follow conventional rules of leadership and does not need direction from others on how to operate. They do whatever they love. They possess values that cater to the interests of the organization. Richard Branson is a self – made businessperson who is now operating more than 200 businesses and is now a billionaire. He does not carry the conventional look and behavior of CEOs. He does exactly what makes him happy like dressing as Che Guevara in a press conference, wearing butterfly wings on a boardroom (Wright et al. 2012).
The capability of taking appropriate risks: Taking calculated risks is one of the key features of transformational leaders. They trust their instinct and take input from the team to evaluate a situation and take appropriate risks for increasing the productivity of the organization. Richard Branson is famous for his decisions on taking calculated risks. The first music album, which he released from his company Virgin Records, was of Mike Oldfield, had no potential of being a hit. This calculated risk taken by Branson proved to be a super success. The album became one of the best-selling albums of all time (Kelloway et al. 2012).
Share Organizational consciousness: A transformational leader always shares his views with the subordinates while listening and giving importance to their views and opinions. This helps the leader to understand the team members. The subordinates also feel valued by the organization and take decisions fearlessly. Branson believes in demolishing corporate hierarchy and sharing his views with employees. He gives authorities to others to take decisions while giving them the opportunity to have ample leisure time. According to Branson employees are paid to think and lead rather than following others orders. This makes them feel valued (Chou, 2012.).
Being Inspirational: One of the major works of a transformational leader is to inspire and motivate the employees. This includes motivating employees and recognizing their hard work. It is also the process of understanding the motivational factor of an employee. According to Branson, focusing on employees is the key to success. He debates that if an organization looks after its employees the employees will look after the customers. He motivates employees by considering their situation and granting them leaves whenever required. According to him, this inspires and motivates employees to be more productive. He believes in the implementation of fun in the working environment to inspire the employees who spend most of the time of their day in the organization (Manning and Curtis, 2012).
The case study shows that Terry Gou follows the Autocratic style of leadership. This style considers the boss as the supreme. The leader holds all the authority and responsibility. This type of leadership provides no flexibility in the working environment. Autocratic leaders never involve employees in decision-making and are always force them to follow instructions (Wright and Escribà-Folch, 2012). There are some key characteristics of Autocratic leadership. The first is that they take little or no input from group members. Terry Gou follows the secretive style of leadership. He never shares new product launches with employees. He tightly controls the employees in military style and is never consults them for decision-making. The second characteristic of this type of leadership is that they consider the employees and their well-being as the last priority (Manning and Curtis, 2012). Terry Gou forces its employees to do 24-hour shifts when there are urgent requirements. They are never given the flexibility of taking leaves. The work environment of Foxconn is mentally and physically stressful with forced overtimes. Employees have certain facilities like swimming pool, medical facilities, and cafeteria. The constant pressure of working hard and giving output drives workers to commit suicide. In spite of the suicides committed by his organization Terry Gou has stuck to his policy of customer first employee last by making the employees sign a treaty, which absolves the company from the responsibility of any suicides.
2.The Path-Goal leadership theory is a theory on specifying the behavior of leaders that suits the employees and the work environment. The goal of this theory is to increase the motivation of employees and empowering the employees to make them satisfied with the organization (Dixon and Hart, 2010). According to this theory, satisfied employees are best for the productivity of the organization. House describes four styles of leadership –
The directive, path-goal clarifying leader: This type of leader clearly communicates the goal to the employees and the processes by which the goals can be achieved. This is followed when the subordinate is inexperienced and the task is unstructured and complex (Manning and Curtis, 2012).
Achievement-oriented leader: This type focuses on setting challenging task oriented goals to its followers and expects them to perform at their highest level. The leaders also show immense confidence in the ability of the workers (Manning and Curtis, 2012).
Participative leaders: This type of leadership involves and consults the followers while taking a decision. They consider the ideas of the subordinates while taking an action (Huang et al. 2010).
Supportive Leaders: This leader creates a healthy and friendly working environment by showing concern to the employees for their well-being and considering their needs. This increases the self- esteem of employees and increases their motivation to work harder(Zhang and Bartol, 2010).
The most evident leadership styles of Richard Branson are the participative leadership style and the supportive leadership style. Branson as a participative leader gives the employees authority and flexibility to decide on situations without consulting the hierarchy, involves them, and considers their views and opinions while taking decisions. Branson believes that this makes the employee feel valuable and wanted for the company thus increasing the employee retention. As a supportive leader, Branson believes in introducing fun in the working environment. He never interferes with the needs of the employees to take leaves and grants the whenever required. According to Branson employees who are happy in the working environment and can fulfill their social obligations are always more productive.
Terry Gou follows the Directive and the Achievement-oriented leadership styles. Terry Gou exhibits a military control over employees by describing their work area and forcing them to follow leadership instructions blindly. He does not allow employees to cite their opinions before taking decisions. Terry Gou even keeps the product launch a secret. This is how he becomes directive in his leadership. Terry Gou is highly achievement-oriented. He forces employees to do 24-hour shifts and extreme overtimes when there is urgency. He never considers the needs of employees and is least bothered about the health of employees forcing them to commit suicide.
3.The Transformational leadership style as followed by Branson has many positive effects on the motivation of employees. This leadership model relates to the Hertzberg’s Two-Factor Theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory of motivation. Hertzberg’s motivation theory suggests that employees get motivated when they enjoy their work, feel recognized and sees the progression in the career (Ifinedo, 2012). They are also motivated when there is an open environment free communication throughout the hierarchy. According to Maslow’s theory, employees get motivated when the company considers their needs. The employees feel motivated when they know exactly what their roles are in the company and how their opinions are important in any decision making. The employees feel needed by the company. The company should also look after the employee's life outside of work by providing them flexible working hours so that they can also fulfill their family responsibilities. This highly motivates an employee and increases the productivity. Another motivation factor for employees is getting fair salary according to their responsibility (Deci and Ryan, 2012). A person following the transformational model of leadership positively affects the motivation of employees by following all the methods as discussed above. However, there are also negative effects of this leadership. The motivation employees get by feeling that they are part of the decision-making and goal setting can backfire when employees work long hours and are encouraged to go beyond their limitations to achieve the goal. This type of leadership has the tendency to train only selected individuals. Though this enhances the knowledge of those that receives the coaching, the other left out employees get de-motivated as they have the feeling that they are unimportant. The sharing of goals and asking the employees to take authority for goal achievement can also have a negative effect on productivity when employees are incapable of understanding the situation correctly and hence takes irrelevant decisions (Allio, 2012).
Autocratic leadership style as followed by Gou contradicts Hertzberg’s Two-Factor Theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory of motivation. It is not a very popular leadership theory and does not go well with the subordinates. The employees get de-motivated when they feel that the managers do not trust them and their inputs in any decision are not valued (Bhatti et al. 2012). They also get de-motivated when they fear of the punishments that the leaders use to motivate the subordinates. This leadership also has a negative effect on employee morale. The talented de-motivated employees always tend to leave the organization as the leaders discourage innovation. Although it has many negatives, this leadership style is effective at the time of crisis, when the employees need motivation from their superiors. The leaders can positively affect the motivation of employees by taking a sole decision without consultation and by telling them on how to recover the crisis. The employees feel motivated when they know that there is someone to guide them (Manzoor, 2012).
4.If I become a consultant at Foxconn, I would suggest Terry Gou to keep certain things in mind and implement these changes to be successful in the autocratic form of leadership. He should respect his subordinates because all are important for the fulfillment of organizational goal. Hence, he should introduce an environment of mutual respect (Manzoor, 2012). He should convey the employees, the reason for following certain procedure or orders. Terry Gou should follow company policies fairly and consistently. He should not differ on decisions in similar circumstances. He needs to leave the secretive policy of leadership. Employees need to understand the expectations fully to avoid miscommunications and misconceptions. Even if Terry Gou does not implement the ideas that come from the subordinates, he needs to listen to their views to make them feel valued and needed by the company. He should introduce policies to look after the physical and mental health of the employees, by reducing their exposure to toxic working environments, granting them leaves when required and by providing them flexible working hours. These changes will create a harmonious, less toxic and a less stressful work environment for employees.
Chinese employees usually expect a harmonious relationship between the leader and the follower expects the leader to be directive. The Chinese culture follows the Confucian value system. According to this Confucian understanding, people tend to respect their superiors and follow their orders. Hence, the Chinese prefer autocratic leadership style. Chinese people are very sensitive to authority even in modern days. Another element of Chinese culture is guanxi. It defines the relationship between two parties characterized by affection and mutual obligations (Dickson et al. 2012). According to this concern of emotion and feelings develops a strong bond between the parties. These characteristics of Chinese culture hence prove that implementing the above-discussed changes in Foxconn will be a great success for the autocratic leadership of Terry Gou.
The above discussion concludes that leadership styles have the positive and negative impact on employees' motivation. The key lies in implementing different leadership styles according to the requirement of the situation. A person who knows the difference between leadership and motivation are successful. Leadership is rising above all circumstances and motivation is the insight that helps to rise above all circumstances.
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