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General Motors Company’s Multinational Management Essay


When excellent and experienced leadership is in place within a corporate organization, it may be experienced throughout the organization. With good leaders in control, corporate cultures are freely practiced by the stakeholders, especially the employees (Bruch & Vogel 2010). This also enhances communication between employees and leaders; in this case, everybody understands the goals, mission, and vision of the company (Bruch & Vogel 2010). Therefore, the success of a corporate organization, both at national and international levels, depends on the kind of leadership in place. This means that everything rises and falls on leadership (Bruch & Vogel 2010).

It is important to note that leadership in multinational organizations poses more challenges than those in national organizations (Rugraff & Hansen 2011). In this case, the multinational organizations have more challenging roles than the national ones have (Rugraff & Hansen 2011). This is the reason leaders have to lead by example to demonstrate how to be accountable for their actions and how to actually deal efficiently with adversities. This is the subject of this paper; this paper examines the leadership traits that can role-model the right behaviors within the environment of a multinational company operating in at least three countries. In tackling these issues, the paper focuses on General Motors and the three states in which it operates.

General Motors, commonly referred to as GM, is a multinational corporation whose headquarter is in Detroit, Michigan (Daft & Lane 2009). It is one of the largest automobile corporations in the world. It has its subsidiaries and operations in more than 150 countries around the globe (Lane & McNett 2009). In examining the context of General Motors, the focus is placed on three countries: Kenya, the United States, and China.

Leadership in the Context of General Motors

As a component of their responsibilities, managers of multinational corporations should influence other employees to concentrate on maximizing the value of the organizations across the world. However, it is essential to note that the leadership in a multinational corporation comes with more responsibilities than that of a national corporation (Rugraff & Hansen 2011). In this case, there are many reasons a leader should lead by example, especially concerning multinational corporations.

As earlier noted, business operations in a multinational context have several differences when compared with business operations in a local context; one of the differences is that a multinational business environment has diverse cultures (Kezar 2008). For instance, General Motors operates in the United States, Kenya, and China among other countries (Haviland, Prins, McBride & Walrath 2010); these countries have relatively different cultures and lifestyles (Landstrm 2005). Justifiably, there should be a shift from the types of thinking that has a singular cultural dimension to that of a cross-cultural dimension; this requires a blend of knowledge of how corporations may take advantage of different cultural diversities. Concerning this, it is important to note that emerging market economies have resulted in a change in the manner in which corporations deal with cross-cultural diversities (Semeon 2012).

Hence, the biggest question is how a corporation like General Motors can survive in a multicultural business environment occasioned by its presence in Kenya, China, and the United States. This is what necessitates the need for a leader who can take the lead and create the most appropriate leadership models that are inclusive; these leadership models should be mirrored by the junior managers and employees to successfully achieve organizational goals and objectives. The leader should have enough knowledge of the different cultural environments that his or her corporation operates in (Aswathappa 2010). For instance, General Motors has experienced tremendous success in its global operations because its regional leaders, like the one in charge of international operations, have experience working in different parts of the world, which have varied cultures and beliefs (General Motors 2012).

Leaders should also lead through actions (Blazey 2009). This means that they should not just be heard talking about corporate issues; they should also be seen to act on their words to achieve desirable results. Leaders may efficiently translate their intentions into realities by acting on the leadership models and messages they teach to their juniors. They should also act on the things they speak to other leaders and employees. The implication of this is that leadership is about setting the right example for the people who are led to follow; it is more of an active demonstration of one’s belief rather than just speaking about it. In this regard, General Motors has ensured that its subsidiaries in Kenya, China, and the United States, among others, are headed by visionary leaders (General Motors 2012). This has resulted in team-building and, hence, the achievement of company goals and objectives.

Growth of a multinational corporation is very crucial for its survival in the global market (Levi 2009); the employees and other stakeholders within the organization should also grow. This requires higher standards of practice. Leaders may bring their teams to higher standards by committing themselves to greater challenges themselves (Levi 2009). In this regard, the capabilities, aptitudes, and traits of a leader in a multinational organization provide a broader foundation on which juniors and other stakeholders can grow both as individuals and groups. Therefore, leaders can encourage their followers to adopt a higher standard by being examples of greater control and drive (Levi 2009).

Leadership Accountability

Accountability throughout a multinational corporation is also important to its successes or failures (Banks 2012). Reliably, it is worth pointing out that all executives, supervisors and junior staff members are responsible for the ultimate results of the corporation. For all these people to work towards achieving organizational objectives, the top leadership must create an avenue of accountability by all; this starts by the executives themselves being accountable for the actions they take within the organization (Hansen 2010). When this happens, all other personnel also become motivated to follow in the footsteps of the executives. When this is replicated in all the subsidiaries, the multinational corporation achieves success (Hansen 2010). This is the scenario that exists in the General Motors and its subsidiaries, especially in China, Kenya, and the United States; every manager at every level of the organization can demonstrate his or her accountability, which consequently inspires other personnel to work as a team to achieve the organizational goals and objectives (General Motors 2012).

Dealing with Adversities

Operating a business in the global environment has significant challenges for leaders of multinational corporations (Samir 2008). Therefore, it is paramount that such kind of leaders should be resilient in the face of adversities (Samir 2008). Adversity may be an ongoing unfavorable business condition that may or may not have setbacks; but, it can slow down the process of achieving organizational goals and objectives (Samir 2008). Adversities can last for a prolonged period and include numerous events and changes in circumstances. This kind of scenario requires the leadership of an individual who is resilient and innovative to deal with it successfully without letting the core business of an organization to suffer setbacks (Samir 2008).

It is important to note that General Motors has also suffered many global adversities since its inception. One of the most significant adversities that affected the company was that of the Great Depression, which was aggravated by the effects of the Second World War (Smith 2006). However, the corporation came up with aggressive leadership, which helped in the management of the adversities. This saved the company from the brinks of collapse and ensured its success in the international market (Beaudan 2012). The leadership demonstrated how to deal with various adversities; this set precedence for succeeding leaders to follow, thereby becoming one of the strategies that have been helping the corporation to survive in the global market (Beaudan 2012). This is a testimony that when leaders demonstrate how to deal with adversities in a multinational corporation, their followers are also likely to gain confidence and deal with similar adversities. The overall result is the success of the corporation in the global market (Beaudan 2012).

Dealing with adversities in a multinational business environment does not just mean coming up with solutions; it also implies that leaders should share in the hardship of adversities with the rest of the personnel in the organization (Daft 2008). This makes junior personnel feel that they are all in the situation together with the leader. This constitutes a move and attitude that strengthen the credibility of a leader. Consequently, the credibility of a leader enhances the devotion of the staff members in improving the situation (Daft 2008).

Required Leadership Traits

A leader who can demonstrate accountability and how to successfully deal with recurrent adversities in the context of a multinational corporation should have some specific traits. It is worth recollecting numerous multinational corporations do fail due to bad leadership (Sornum 2010). This implies that some of the leaders lack the requisite character traits that can enable them to competently handle global business issues that may negatively affect their corporations. Besides, such leaders may not have the ability to rally their junior employees behind organizational goals and objectives (Sornum 2010). As a result, a leader who wants to be successful in a multinational corporation should have some crucial traits. These traits form the subject of the next paragraphs.

To be an exemplary leader in the context of a multinational corporation like General Motors, one needs to be able to identify paradigms that drive changes within a corporation, especially for different countries in which the company operates (Suder 2008). With this ability, the leader can demonstrate how to handle various situations within the organization, thereby motivating others to work as a team (Suder 2008). It is also important that a leader in such a context should possess mediation skills. This helps the leader to facilitate knowledge sharing among all stakeholders, especially the junior personnel. A leader should also be decisive in an ever-changing international business environment (Suder 2008). In this case, he or she should be able to prudently deal with challenges that affect the organization and also account for all the actions and decisions he or she makes while performing organizational duties (Suder 2008). This enhances teamwork and creates trust in his or her juniors.

Moreover, a leader in a multinational corporation needs to get motivated by personal values, and not just financial performances, to deal with various business issues within a corporation (Suder 2008). General Motors’ success has been pegged to the fact that its leaders are guided and motivated by their values (Griffin &Moorhead 2011; Dierkes, Antal, Child & Nonaka 2003); this is therefore exemplary. This implies that leaders need to demonstrate a commitment to their beliefs over a relatively long period so as encourage other personnel to ensure continued efforts within the organization. In General Motors, these leadership traits have been demonstrated in all the countries in which its subsidiaries are located. The consequence of this is that all personnel in every country are always motivated to give their best to the core company’s business operations (Mobley 2012).


With good leaders in control, corporate culture is freely practiced by the stakeholders, especially the employees. This also enhances communication among employees and leaders; in this case, everybody understands the goals, mission, and vision of the company. A leader should be able to account for his or her actions and decisions that impact company operations in an international business environment. Besides, a leader should also demonstrate how to deal with company adversities that come due to international operations, which may threaten company performances.

References List

Aswathappa, K 2010, International Business 4e, Tata McGraw-Hill Education, New Delhi.

Banks, E 2012, Risk Culture: A Practical Guide to Building and Strengthening the Fabric of Risk Management, Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Beaudan, E 2012, Creative Execution: What Great Leaders Do to Unleash Bold Thinking and Innovation, John Wiley & Sons, Winchester.

Blazey, M 2009, Insights to Performance Excellence 2009-2010: An Inside Look at the 2009-2010 Baldrige Award Criteria, ASQ Quality Press, Milwaukee.

Bruch, H & Vogel, B 2010, Fully Charged: How Great Leaders Boost Their Organization’s Energy and Ignite High Performance, Harvard Business Press, Boston.

Daft, R & Lane, P 2009, Management [With Access Code], Cengage Learning, New York.

Daft, R 2008, The Leadership Experience, Cengage Learning, New York.

Dierkes, M, Antal, A, Child, J & Nonaka, I 2003, Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

General Motors 2012, About GM: GM Corporate Officers, viewed 27 February 2013, <http://www.gm.com/company/aboutGM/GM_Corporate_Officers/timothy_e_lee.html>.

Griffin, R & Moorhead, G 2011, Organizational Behavior: Managing People and Organizations, Cengage Learning, New York.

Hansen, E 2010, Responsible Leadership Systems, Springer, New York.

Haviland, W, Prins, McBride, B & Walrath, D 2010, Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge, Cengage Learning, New York.

Kezar, A 2008, Rethinking Leadership Practices in a Complex, Multicultural, and Global Environment: New Concepts and Models for Higher Education, Stylus Publishing, LLC., Sterling.

Landstrm, H 2005, Pioneers in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Research, Springer, New York.

Lane, H & McNett, J 2009, The Blackwell Handbook of Global Management: A Guide to Managing Complexity, John Wiley & Sons, Winchester.

Levi, M 2009, International Finance 5th Edition, Routledge, New York.

Mobley, W 2012, Advances in Global Leadership, Emerald Group Publishing, Bingley.

Rugraff, E & Hansen, M 2011, Multinational Corporations and Local Firms in Emerging Economies, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam.

Samir, D 2008, Understanding The Global Environment, Pearson Education India, New Delhi.

Semeon, R 2012, Working in the Global Economy: How to Develop and Manage Your Career Across Borders, Routledge, New York.

Smith, R 2006, The Great Depression, Teacher Created Resources, New York.

Sornum, K 2010, Poor Leadership Leading to Organizational Failures, GRIN Verlag, Munich.

Suder, G 2008, International Business Under Adversity: A Role in Corporate Responsibility, Conflict Prevention and Peace, Edward Elgar Publishing, Northampton.

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