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According to Hughes, Ginnett, and Curphy (2009), values are among the central factors affecting leadership. Values affect the leader’s choices, his or her view of the problems, as well as attitudes to work, cooperation, risk, and other components of a business (Hughes et al., 2009). Values can also guide leaders in the decision-making process, helping them to distinguish between ethical and unethical actions and to choose the best path for business development (Hughes et al., 2009).
The leader’s values also define the workforce of the organization, as leaders usually choose to employ people who align with their vision as well as the company’s goals (Hughes et al., 2009). Hughes et al. (2009) define the key values affecting the leaders, such as recognition, power, hedonism, tradition, and commerce; however, in most cases, the leader’s decisions, views, and behavior are driven by more than one of these values. The case study is an excellent illustration of this idea. Gary Erickson is a founder and CEO of Clif Bar, Inc., which produces and sells sports bars. According to his description provided in the case study, he demonstrates five key values: power, hedonism, altruism, affiliation, and aesthetics.
Gary has strong power values. As defined by Hughes et al. (2009), leaders that are driven by power “enjoy the competition and being seen as influential, and drive hard to make an impact” (p. 178). Such leaders also value achievement and strive for accomplishments (Hughes et al., 2009). Gary’s Power values were particularly evident in his decision to turn down the $100 million offer from a food corporation, which was because he believed that selling the company would compromise the vision he had for his business. This shows that Gary values the control he has over the company and his role in its accomplishments. The decision has also made him seem more influential, as he preferred the company’s interests over commercial ones.
Gary’s Hedonism values are also evident in his attitudes toward constructing a working environment. He has made the workplace a fun place to be by providing bikes, dance floor, and gym for his employees. The company also offers personal trainers, massage services, hair salons, dog days, movie nights, and parties. According to Hughes et al. (2009), the leader’s Hedonism values are manifested similarly, as the leaders want the work to be enjoyable, fun, and rewarding; they “like to have fun at work and entertain others” (Hughes et al., 2009). These characteristics fit the description of Gary’s ideal working environment, proving that Hedonism values are among the most influential for him.
Some leaders are also invested in making the world better and helping less fortunate people. Such leaders have solid Altruism values, which motivate them to help others, improve society, and promote social justice (Hughes et al., 2009). A large share of Gary’s work is concerned with social and environmental efforts. For instance, his 2,080 program encourages workers to work as volunteers on company time, and he also supports employees who wish to volunteer in developing countries by covering travel expenses and providing salaries. Gary is also committed to decreasing the environmental imprint of his company by producing bars from organic ingredients, funding a wind farm, and reducing shrink-wrap use by altering the packaging. Overall, it is clear that Altruism values greatly influence Gary’s work as a CEO and his leadership.
Affiliation is considered to be among the most popular key leadership values. As noted by Hughes et al. (2009), leaders for whom affiliation is crucial, enjoy being around other people and working in cooperation with other employees. They value a friendly working environment, networking, and meeting new people (Hughes et al., 2009). Erickson is also committed to his team. He works to make the environment in the office friendly and enjoyable for all employees, thinking about their feelings and interests. Clif Bar has 130 employees, making it a medium-sized company. From the case study, it seems that Gary is involved in many processes within the company, which means that the organizational structure is relatively flat and that effective communication is part of the company’s policy. However, as the employee count grows further, Erickson may be required to introduce more organizational levels, and his focus on Affiliation values will help him to do so in an efficient way.
Aesthetics is also among Erickson’s key values; in fact, quality and creativity are at the foundation of the company. Gary states that the idea to create the Clif Bar came to him after a cycling marathon when he found the taste of other popular sports bars unsatisfying. Ever since then, ensuring excellent taste and quality of the product has been among his priorities. This fits the Aesthetics leader profile. Hughes et al. (2009) describe that, for leaders with strong Aesthetics values, experimentation and creative problem solving are very important and that they place more value on appearance and quality rather than quantity.
Overall, the different aspects of Gary Erickson’s strategy are connected to different types of leadership values. A combination of Aesthetics and Power values makes his business decisions more efficient and contributes to the company’s profitability. Affiliation and Hedonism values, on the other hand, make Clif Bar an excellent place for its employees, thus raising their motivation. Finally, strong Altruism values encourage corporate responsibility, ensuring low environmental imprint, and contributing to volunteering efforts that promote social justice and well-being.
Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2009). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience (6th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill Irwin.