Robert Nardelli used an authoritative leadership style throughout his tenure at Home Depot. His style of leadership was also described by others as an imperial one. In spite of his authoritative nature, Home Depot regained its stable financial position after a period of five years
. This implied that his leadership style was excellent even if he was not a favorite personality to everybody. For instance, a significant growth in sales was realized within a relatively short period. The sales rose to 81 million dollars from 6 million dollars within a span of five years.
Nonetheless, employees were alienated by his leadership style. Most of the managers also complained that he was focusing too much on the profitability of the company at the expense of the moral wellbeing of employees of the organization. Customers were also alienated by is style of leadership (Grow et al., 2007).
He also preferred curt communication while interacting with employees. For example, it can be recalled that a major shareholders’ meeting held in 2006 was punctuated with dilemma when Nardelli commanded that the meeting would be held for about thirty minutes. Shareholders in the meeting were also supposed to be restricted to only a single question.
In addition, a speaker’s microphone would be switched off exactly after one minute elapses. This implied that they were allowed to speak for one minute only during the meeting. To a large extent, consensus building was never a concern for Robert Nardelli. Worse still, he lacked the ability to communicate effectively when disseminating important information.
He facilitated the institution of part time employees who took the position of full time workers. This move resulted into a lower employee overhead and an improved gross margin. The Home Depot brand was also changed dramatically by Nardelli.
One of the reasons for taking this action was that employees lacked adequate motivation in the course of delivering their duties. He also argued that customers found it difficult to located items even though the process was supposed to be swift (Charan, 2006).
According to the leadership trait theory, the success of leaders at workplace is largely dependent on certain inborn traits that may hardly be acquired through formal training. The theory affirms that true leaders are born. In the case of Robert Nardelli, it can be seen that his commanding nature was inborn and an internal trait.
The behavioral theory argues on the opposite line of thought. It states that leaders are not born, rather they are made. The theory continues to affirm that learnable behavior that can be vividly defined is usually part and parcel of successful leadership. It is possible that Nardelli applied some of the acquired leadership styles while at the helm of Home Depot.
For example, the significant rise in the profitability of the firm was directly occasioned by sufficient training on financial management. Inherent capabilities or inborn traits are not sought by behavioral theory. The actual performance or actions of leaders is the main focus when it comes to behavioral theory. Needless to say, people should be in a position to act in a similar manner if success can be described in terms of individual actions.
Perhaps, this appears to be the main weakness of this theory. Nonetheless, situational and contingency leadership theories profess that successful leadership does not depend on any given leadership style. In other words, any leadership format can be used to run an organization (Baack, 2012).
Hence, Nardelli’s style of leadership was appropriate according to these theories. It is possible for a given leadership style to be appropriate in one scenario but inapplicable in another.
From the above discussions, it can be concurred that Nardelli’s leadership or management style was unethical to some extent. In spite of the fact that Home Depot needed to regain its profitability, he should have employed a more democratic style especially in situations that demanded consensus. The worst case scenario was witnessed when he authorized microphones to be switched off exactly after one minute.
Second, Nardelli failed to create a harmonious working relationship with the rest of the employees. It is not possible to be ethical as a leader while at the same time fail to develop a unified team. Effective leaders are supposed to seek the input of the subordinates before major decisions are made. It is interesting to learn that the performance of an organization may not necessarily be proportional to the management style in place.
To make this point clearer, Home Depot grew substantially irrespective of the dissatisfied employees and shareholders who thought that Robert Nardelli was mismanaging the organization (Merrifield, 2003).
On a final note, Nardelli’s leadership style was also unethical because he dramatically directed his effort to minimally reward employees. In any case, part time workers have fewer privileges than full time employees. An organization that does not want to hire permanent workers is highly likely to be exalting unethical practices. For instance, part time employees may not enjoy the benefits of joining trade unions or being pensionable.
Baack, D. (2012). Organizational behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Charan, R. (2006). Home Depot’s blueprint for culture change. Harvard Business Review, 84(4), 60-70.
Grow, B., Foust, D., Thornton, E., Farzad, R., McGregor, J., & Zegal, S. (2007). Out at home depot. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2007-01-14/out-at-home-depot
Merrifield, B. (2003). What distributors can learn from home depot’s woes. ISHN, 37(5).