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The primary role of a leader in a company is to make decisions that enhance the chances of its business processes to succeed. Regardless of the type of leadership assumed by the president of an organization, his or her decision-making should be guided by the need to achieve the best interests of the organization. However, in some cases, the decision-making process of leaders might be influenced by the need to attain partisan interests, which jeopardizes the performance of the organization. The Centurion media case highlights a situation where the leader of the organization made a contentious decision without consulting other members of the organization. Such a decision must be associated with the development of a clear understanding of the short-term and long-term objectives, which was apparently not provided to other members of the leadership function. Additionally, such decisions should be associated with calculated risks by referring to the existing data and future projections of the current approaches, which was also ignored by Fowler. From a critical perspective, the decision made by the president is a clear revelation of ultimate incompetence and the lack of reliance on actual data that would guide Fowler into making a better decision. Leaders in organizations need to brainstorm with other members of the leadership and management function before making drastic decisions that might have dire consequences on the performance of the organization.
Fowler made two decisions that are ethically wrong. Firstly, he made a decision that would affect the entire company, especially the cable television department, without involving the associated vice-presidents in the decision (Conn, 2008). He particularly refrained from using the current data on the company to make the final decision. His dictatorial leadership approach was quite unethical because he neither valued the opinion nor the efforts of the vice-presidents running business processes in the cable department. Additionally, the decision was associated with the lack of any data to support his claims that the unsold advertising inventory was significantly high.
Despite being a visionary leader, as highlighted by Chuck Reilly, it is apparent that Fowler’s decision-making process was only driven by his partisan interests. Fowler’s disregard to the opinions of the vice-presidents would potentially result in losses in the tune of millions for Centurion Media, and as revealed by the Bennett’s systematic reasoning, the contract with Northpark would ultimately result in the loss of loyal customers, and the company would have a difficult time recovering from the loss in revenue. Basically, according to Bennett’s reasoning, the company was on the verge of collapse if the contract with Northpark was executed (Conn, 2008). This reveals that Fowler’s decision was unethical because he was neglecting his responsibility of ensuring that the best interests of the company were embraced with every executive decision. It is apparent that he made the decision with Northpark’s interests in mind.
Secondly, it is highly unethical for Fowler to appoint his brother Steve as the head of the sales department (Conn, 2008). It is apparent that a leader in Fowler’s position has the fiduciary duty of ensuring that all decisions are made with ultimate caution for the benefit of the company (Lydenberg, 2014). However, this appointment was made to an individual with no prior experience or knowledge in marketing and sales, and since the appointee was Fowler’s brother, it indicates that nepotism prevailed (Jaskiewicz, Uhlenbruck, Baklin, & Reay, 2013). Favoring relatives regardless of their skills and knowledge in the required tasks is an unethical approach toward leadership, which makes it clear that Fowler did not plan to uphold the best interests of Centurion Media.
Additionally, there is a clear revelation that Fowler did not uphold utilitarianism in his decision-making process. Rather than consider the implications of his decision to the internal stakeholders of the company, he only looked into attaining the goals of the external stakeholders, specifically his previous employer (Mulgan, 2014). The decision was bound to eliminate various positions and leave many people jobless, while the profits would be received by Northpark because the contract would provide a platform where Centurion Media would be working for Northpark instead of the other way round. The contract would have dire impacts on the performance of Centurion Media while increasing the potential of growth for Northpark.
There is no doubt that the execution of the contract would result in a huge loss of finances for the company. Bennett and Porter’s conversation revealed that they had worked hard to harness a larger market share in the southeastern part of the nation; thus, decreasing the percentage of unsold advertising inventory from 80% to 60%. This growth in sales is a clear indication that the unsold inventory would gradually decrease and the company was on the right track based on the number of loyal customers it had acquired. The new terms of the contract with Northpark would ultimately lower the number of loyal clients because Centurion Media would have to give precedence to Northpark’s discounted adverts over any other client. The sales team would not have the ability to lure more clients willing to pay higher prices for air time because they would have no way of guaranteeing that the adverts would be aired. This implies that the company would have to settle for making 30% of the current revenue on an annual basis (Conn, 2008).
Porter’s sales team had managed to seal the gap of unsold inventory down to 60%, and other regional departments were also performing quite remarkable in their sales, which reveal that the company had developed partnerships with loyal customers, who would be infuriated to find out that their deals had been compromised by the contract (Conn, 2008). Some of the clients would be forced to withdraw from their long-term contracts, and they would be at the forefront of confirming the unreliability of Centurion Media, which would subsequently result in potential customers refraining from making deals with the company. This implies that if the news goes out, even Northpark would have a difficult time attracting clients to purchase the advertising air time. The decision would place the major stakeholders of the company in a compromised situation because the reduction in sales and poor financial performance would force the company to look into other measures to cut costs.
Fowler‘s plan was to eliminate some of the departments in the quest of making sufficient savings to offset the losses that would be made in sales after implementing the contract. This implies that if the plan was in effect, the employees, who are part of the internal stakeholders, would lose their jobs (Conn, 2008). Being led by incompetent leadership would also result in conflicts between the members of the leadership function and the management department. For instance, Bennett revealed that he was ready to face any conflict as long as he was opposing an unethical decision on the part of his superiors. Such a move would result in Fowler using his power to fire Bennett and his supporters, which would ultimately lead to Centurion Media falling into the hands of a dictator who would lead the company into failure.
The first option that Bennett has is to let the issue go and watch from the side. It is apparent that Fowler is a visionary leader, and he might have a plan that will result in long-term success for the company (Conn, 2008). Bennett could refrain from raising alarm and disobeying the provisions of the contract with the hope that there is a feasible plan that is yet to be communicated by the president. The second option is choosing to disobey the order and continue selling the advertising inventory to the highest bidders as the company has been doing. This might result in a conflict between Bennett’s department and the president, but he will be acting according to the best interests of the company.
The third option is to play the role of a whistleblower. Since it is apparent that the decisions being made by Fowler are not ethical, it would be advisable for one of the members of the executive function to create awareness of the issue to the board of directors, the CEO, and other stakeholders that might have an influence that will eliminate the contract. The last option would be to resign from his position and cite the fact that the decisions made by the leader do not attain parallelism with his personal beliefs and ethics. He should make it clear that he is not willing to be part of the team that will see the downfall of the company, and make sure that his logical analysis of the contract is sent to the board and the CEO of Centurion Media (Conn, 2008). However, this decision would affect his retirement plans, and he would probably jeopardize the careers of his team members if Fowler manages to convince the stakeholders that his plan will foster great success.
From a critical perspective, Bennett should handle the situation cautiously, and his decision should be based on protecting the members of his team, attaining the best interests of the company, and embracing the guidelines and ethics of his position. This implies that playing the role of a whistleblower is the most feasible option. He should ensure that the board of directors, the CEO, loyal clients, employees, and the regulatory agencies are aware of the contract and its implications on the company and the business processes. Attracting the attention of the major stakeholders will potentially influence the elimination of the blind leadership assumed by Fowler. The CEO seems to be blinded by the fact that Fowler brought tremendous growth to Northpark; hence, he needs someone to paint a clear picture of the implications of the current contract. The autonomy assumed by Fowler in the decision-making process needs to be limited to ensure that the objectives of his decisions are aligned with the ultimate goals of Centurion Media. Steve needs to be fired because he is not qualified for the job, which will also reveal that Fowler embraces nepotism (Jones, 2013).
Preventing such an issue from taking place in the future would require the company to assume a paradigm shift in the decision-making process, particularly by limiting the power of the president in making decisions for the company. The policies of the company should be altered in a manner that requires the members of the leadership function to be involved in every decision. Just like the board has to vote before any decision takes effect, the president and the vice presidents must vote before a major decision is made. Such a policy would force the president to get rid of the condescending and patronizing character that he has assumed in this matter. His reputation as a dictator led to the development of fear in his subordinates, which probably influenced the ability to make unchallenged decisions. The policies of the company must also strip the presidency’s power to terminate the employment contract of an employee without following the due process. This move should eliminate the ability of future leaders to use firing as a method of intimidating individuals challenging their unethical decisions (van Gils et al., 2015).
Centurion Media should also be compelled to develop policies that protect whistleblowers in the company. The employees should not be afraid to spread word to the major stakeholders whenever the leaders or managers are involved in unethical conduct. This should streamline the decision-making process of the current and future leaders of the company. It would also be important for the policies of the company to dictate that presidents assume a hands-off approach toward handling the various departments. Their role should be limited to executing the decisions of the board of directors and the CEO; rather than controlling the decisions made by the qualified vice-presidents at the departmental level. Lastly, there should be policies that require the human resource department to interview every employee of the company before being appointed to different positions. This will eliminate the possibility of Centurion Media having leaders who uphold nepotism, and every position will be filled by a qualified individual. Accountability should prevail at every level of the organizational hierarchy.
Centurion Media was looking to contract a leader who would drive the company into higher levels of success. However, despite Fowler having a good record in helping companies attain fast growth in revenue and profits, his leadership approach was associated with the use of coercion and the lack of concern in other leaders’ ideas. This led to the signing of a contract whose reason was based on the assumption that the company was not making any sales in the cable television department. Fowler clearly failed to consider the current data on the performance of the company and the cable television department. While this could have been a result of his demeanor, it is also probable that he was making the contract for the benefit of his past employer or for partisan reasons because he was a major stockholder at Northpark. Based on the analysis of the situation that was given by Bennett, there is no doubt that the contract would lead to the downfall of Centurion Media. This implies that he had to be bold and raise alarm because other leaders were not willing to take the risk. It was the ethical decision to make, despite being a risky move on Bennett’s part.
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Jaskiewicz, P., Uhlenbruck, K., Balkin, D. B., & Reay, T. (2013). Is nepotism good or bad? Types of nepotism and implications for knowledge management. Family Business Review, 26(2), 121-139.
Jones, R. (2013). Nepotism in Organizations. London, UK: Routledge.
Lydenberg, S. (2014). Reason, rationality, and fiduciary duty. Journal of business ethics, 119(3), 365-380.
Mulgan, T. (2014). Understanding Utilitarianism. London, UK: Routledge.
van Gils, S., Van Quaquebeke, N., van Knippenberg, D., van Dijke, M., & De Cremer, D. (2015). Ethical leadership and follower organizational deviance: The moderating role of follower moral attentiveness. The Leadership Quarterly, 26(2), 190-203.