Leadership always generates debates in the media, among academicians as well as scholars in leadership researches globally. In view of this, a great deal of writing on leadership has been done. It is a greatly regarded sensation that is extremely intricate. Different quarters define and conceptualize leadership in different ways. Largely, leadership is a control process that helps groups of people in the direction of attaining a goal (Northouse 2013). In this context, the individual influences other entities to attain a common objective.
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Considering that leadership involves the leaders and the followers, it is imperative to comprehend the relative connection between the two. Some literature suggests that leadership in view of the followers is the ability of the leader to influence individuals forming a group to set aside their individual interests to support a wider agenda even if for a while. In this regard, effective leaders inspire individuals to perform beyond the call of duty to improve group accomplishment. Consequently, effective leadership is not about the leader with the most control over the group but the one who achieves great group performance through influencing the individuals (Kotterman 2006).
The current research focuses on a case study that touches on leadership. It involves a newly hired CEO to work with Hammond Aerospace. Cheryl Tobin is facing a situation where she suspects that the company involves corrupt activities to land huge contracts through bribing foreign officials. However, she faces diverse hurdles in cracking the case as the new management team is hostile and attempts to stonewall her efforts to dig the truth.
In the past six decades, more than sixty diverse cataloguing systems emerged, defining the perspectives of leadership. Most of these definitions assess leadership as the emphasis of group processes. In this context, the leader is in the middle of group transformation and action and exemplifies the will of the group (Northouse 2013).
Another conventional definition theorizes leadership from a personality aspect. In this context, leadership is viewed as a blending of distinct traits that some people possess. These distinct characteristics allow the person to persuade others to complete tasks. Other attitudes to leadership describe it as an act or conduct. These approaches regard the things a person in the leadership executes to get change in a group (Zaccaro 2007).
Other quarters view leadership from the perspective of the power relationship that occurs between the leaders and the groups. In this perspective, the leaders possess authority that they exercise to bring about change in the followers. Other quarters look at leadership as a revolutionary process that makes the followers achieve more than is typically anticipated of them by the organization. Other contenders regarding what leadership is looking at it from a skill’s perspective. The approach focuses on leadership from the aspect of the leaders’ capabilities. These include knowledge and abilities that enable effective leadership conceivable (Mast & Jonas 2009).
Theories and models
Leadership as a personal trait
In the past few decades, scholars focused on describing the personal characteristics of effective leaders. They found that personal characteristics are not much of a determinant compared to how the individual utilized the traits. They found that personal characteristics are outstanding forecasters of leadership development rather than leadership efficiency. The persons with the defined characteristics are more likely to be professed as leaders by others.
However, they are not automatically more effective leaders (Boseman 2008). Nonetheless, individuals possessing the defined traits are normally associated with leadership roles. The key defining characteristics include acumen, control, friendliness, self-monitoring, energetic and self-driven, self-assured, and broadmindedness for vagueness. When a person lacks these characteristics, they are unlikely to get the position to lead others (Boseman 2008).
Individuals are given a chance to lead not founded on the fact they are appointed by executives. It is the perception and acceptance by followers and subsequent demonstration that they are indeed leaders. The perception may fade away when an individual fails to demonstrate that they are capable of leading. At this point, followers gradually build their trust in leaders who are truthful, progressive, inspirational and competent.
Once an individual has these aspects expected by the followers, it is their obligation to attain performance through the energies of others. The defined characteristics enable the leader to achieve ‘positive energy’ which is the aptitude to invigorate others. It also involves the capability to summon the nerve to implement. These capabilities tie together the personal characteristics as perceived by the followers to the actual ability to influence the followers to perform (Trent 2004).
Most leaders with the defined characteristics are effective, given that they master four key actions to take to successfully lead a group to perform. These include the ability to think of a solution for emerging challenges. It also includes the desire to inspire the followers to pursue an objective and the capacity to mobilize the followers towards a goal. Finally, it entails the willingness to empower the followers so that the followers can make the right decisions without the fear of reprimand. The ability to think leads to innovativeness, development of a purpose, creation of a vision and determination of a tactical position.
The desire to inspire followers is the most discernible aspect of leadership. It is concerned with the sale of the vision to the followers through the narration of experiences and stories as well as demonstrating through action what the leader expects from the follower. The approach entails the confrontation of reality. Followers have trust in leaders who do not run away from reality by imagining a different situation from what the followers can obviously see. The leader must, therefore, face reality and endeavour to solve the challenge facing them (Northouse 2013).
Leadership from a characteristic personal perspective also entails asking the right questions to attain the position of the followers in regard to different situations. For example, in the situation facing Cheryl, asking questions about the alleged corrupt activities by the executives to get contracts gives her a rough idea of the depth of the unethical activities. Cheryl timely expressed her broadmindedness when she asked the executive administrative assistant (Jackie), the Head of Commercial Airplane Division (Hank) and the company’s Legal Counsel (Geoffrey) about the alleged corrupt activities.
The determination to get answers from the executives indicates the personal traits essential in a leader. In view of the prevailing situation at Hammonds Aerospace, it requires a leader with determination. Hank appears to be resolute in making Cheryl conspire to keep the corrupt activities undercover. The three employees are not willing to reveal what happens in the company despite that Cheryl is the new CEO. The hostility she receives from the employees may easily intimidate a person with a weak-will.
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The culture that James Rawlings had cultivated for the company was founded on his personality as opposed to corporate strategy founded on ideologies. He single-handedly created the company from a minor aeroplane windshield manufacturer to a major global aerospace company. The decorations inherent in the CEO’s office were strong indications of the occupant’s personal attributes. Rawlings had created a big-man ego and aura to deal with the anticipated customers. He does not appear to have had much of his employees in mind as a leader.
Transformational leadership involves a set of attributes essential when a company is going through change. The approach is inevitable for Cheryl, given that her leadership style is different from Rawlings’. The approach is natural whenever there is a change in top management. Transformational leaders motivate groups to surpass selfishness and opinions of their own restrictions to become more productive in achieving mutual objectives (Schaubroeck & Lam 2007). Cheryl plans to introduce the change by making herself physically felt through the transformation of the CEO’s office.
She feels that the office is too large and lacks the aura of a ‘real’ office. Her perception is that the setting is meant to impress visitors as opposed to handling the affairs of the company. Cheryl’s major concern is the development of a sense of direction and transparency. The approach is a departure from Rawlings’ style, where transparency and accountability were alien. His approach in conducting business appears to have coerced the executives to submit to him. The power he possessed seems to have intimidated the managers to the extent that they could still feel his presence even in death.
Defining and contrasting the gender theories of leadership
The gender ratios of several fields of corporate management have altered in recent years. Currently, there are more women in leadership positions. However, gender inequality persists in the workplace and other organizations. There are claims about the existence of the social contract that functions to the benefit of male workers. In this regard, it is claimed that within the social contract, males try to secure the rights of other males at the expense of females. The gender of the leaders in corporate settings has been shown to possess an influence on both the executives and workers reactions and attitudes.
Irrespective of gender, the idea for a leader is to have a high ranking within people-based and task-based perspectives. An effective leader would harbour characteristics, including admirable communication abilities, compassion, and understanding. These characteristics would allow the leader to be concerned with the individuals around them. The leader would also be practical in emphasis and hold characteristics such as firmness and corporate skills to deliberate on efficient completion of corporate goals (Rowley & Barry 2010).
Irrespective of the leadership style applied by a manager and its efficiency, gender seems to persist in managerial ranks. Despite basing the diverse values to the performance of the manager to attain the ‘one best way’ ideology of leadership, the essential behaviours to be an efficient leader seems, unfortunately, to be different for males and females given the same situation. The scenario is evident in the face of the Hammond Aerospace situation. From the moment Cheryl entered the CEO’s office, her attitude of how Rawlings used to conduct the business of the company emerges as negative.
She does not like the setting of the office that she perceives as displaying the ‘big-man syndrome’ which she appals. During her tenure at Boeing, she was successful to the extent that Hammond Aerospace poached her for the position of CEO. On the other hand, Rawlings was successful in building Hammond Aerospace from a small windshield manufacturer to an internationally renowned aerospace company. However, Cheryl (not necessarily founded on gender) appears to be a transformational leader.
According to Rowley and Barry (2010), females, more than males, possess leadership styles related to efficient performance as leaders. There are research findings such as one conducted by Rowley and Barry that indicate that females are more concerned with tracking answers. The assertion is evident when considering the Hammond Aerospace situation. Despite the fact that Cheryl has officially reported to her CEO’s office for the first day, she is eager to get answers to the issues that are too sensitive specifically founded on the fact they may touch not only her reputation but also others as well as the company.
She indicates that she heard of the rumors while at Boeing. At that point, she would not have put much effort to establish the truth since she was not part of the Hammond Aerospace company. Now that she is the CEO, it is her responsibility to dig the truth and put an end to the corrupt activities of bribing foreign officers. Any CEO would be concerned about such activities taking place in their company. However, the swiftness and eagerness that Cheryl demonstrates puts a stamp on Rowley and Barry’s finding that female leaders are eager and persistent to pursue answers. Additionally, they bring a more cooperative approach to leadership compared to the male equivalents.
Whereas a male executive who acts aggressively and forcefully is perceived as acting suitably, a female counterpart who acts in the same manner is observed as inadmissibly forceful. Consequently, majority of females in leadership positions struggle with the deficiency of respect from male managers. The line management prevents the female leaders from accessing the subordinate. The phenomenon is associated with the female leader’s effort to act in a style different from their gender stereotype. Consequently, female leadership styles are founded more on leadership traits.
Cheryl creates a different perspective that contrasts the stereotype regarding women in leadership. In circumstances that involve high profile males, she has the backbone to inquire for the truth where others may just let go. She has the characteristics of a good leader. She can detect when her management team is stonewalling her and takes note.
Developing Innovative Decision-Making
The evolution in corporate management challenges such as succession planning, employee management and development of adaptive strategies for corporate executives make decision-making confusing and nearly overwhelming. Irrespective of implementing the best tactical planning, there is probability of mishandling a leadership tactical decision. There are myriads of decision-making challenges that top executives face.
In Cheryl’s situation at Hammonds Aerospace, similar hurdles face her. Contemporarily, executive decisions entail extensive consequences in the way that companies fail or succeed in linking business and sympathy, and sustainability and success, and move from vision to operational, strategic implementation. Resolving glitches, making resolutions, and picking the options of action are among the most critical features of being in control considering the risks involved, making it very difficult.
A bad choice of decision by the CEO is likely to damage the career of some individuals, influence the lives of many stakeholders and damage the corporate performance. In most situations, bad decisions can be tracked back to how the decision was made. In the majority of cases, the right questions are not asked. On the other hand, the right questions may be asked but the correct options are not explored.
Typically, the error of unfortunate leadership choices lies not in decision-making procedures, but rather in the mind of the decision-maker. In other companies, poor decisions arise due to failure of making decision at all in circumstances that require decisiveness. The situation arises in companies where obligation, answerability, culpability, and reprimand are connected to an action verdict that is unsuccessful while the same degree of reprimand and culpability are often not imposed on individuals who do not risk and do not make a decision.
The situation facing the new CEO is dire considering that crucial corporate core values are endangered. The launch of investigations into the potential corrupt conduct of the top executives of the company is likely to cause severe damage to the reputation of the company. In such a situation, the application of critical thinking is vital. The application of managerial critical thinking regards applying experience-founded, group-based, and proper troubleshooting techniques to the circumstances. In the case of Hammonds Aerospace, it is vital for Cheryl to develop a strong capability to overcome and be self-aware of prejudices, incorrect suppositions, mythologies, rumors, and defective hypothesis that can hinder effective decision-making (Safi & Burrell 2007).
In view of the prevailing circumstances, Cheryl should first seek to establish the existence of the corrupt network of bribing individuals in other companies to get contracts. The move will enable her to find the individuals responsible for the corrupt activities. The existence of a slush fund account will give her the grounds for establishing the transactions that take place through the account. It is, therefore, imperative for the CEO to conduct strategy reviews on how to apply her proposed strategy if any.
During these formal meetings, the entire management team should be involved (Dervitsiotis 2007). An approach that will allow her to set forth the direction of her strategy is to reiterate the statement she made to Jackie about her expectations of the company’s reputation. However, Cheryl should be aware that those who may be involved in issuing briberies are still in the company’s top echelon. At this point, this is an option but not the best. A more suitable option will be discussed later in this research.
The timing of the decision and the action that Cheryl should take in handling the issue at hand should be well thought out. Many organizations experience a timing challenge with decision-making. Despite the fact that leaders assign sufficient time in tactical development to contemplate tough issues, the timing of the entire process can generate hurdles regarding how decisions are made.
The fact that Cheryl is the new CEO with immense experience accumulated after working for Boeing does not mean that she does not require consulting other stakeholders. Considering that the decision the CEO makes in regard to launching an internal audit will have a far-reaching impact on the top managers, it is imperative that she conduct a thorough study and analysis of the foundation of the company’s organizational culture. As evident from the hostility she receives from Hank, others are likely to possess similar attitude, irrespective of whether or not they are impacted by the decision.
The change in leadership especially when the top seat is occupied by a woman may not go well with the male top management. She is bound to encounter resistance to change for any change she proposes. Further, Hank had his eyes on the top seat. He seems quite aware of the cartel involved in the bribery of foreign officers. The excuses Hank and Geoffrey expresses against internal audit or launch of an inquiry appear to be intentional conspiracy to derail the work of the new CEO.
Solutions to the case
The alleged corrupt activities taking place at Hammond Aerospace are complex with potentially detrimental ramifications for the individuals involved as well as the reputation of the company. Executives ought to have strategies that facilitate the prevention of mis-steps thereby avoiding major liabilities and damage to their own and organization’s reputation. The first step towards the mitigation of the damage and resolving the organizational problem is managing the processes and not the calamity.
The approach means that one should not rush to launch an inquiry. The executive should assess the possibility of corrupt activities to enable the careful selection of the course of action. In so doing, the concerned executive should reflect on whether or not the organization has an anti-bribery agreement policy and to what extent the policy is implemented. In this case, Cheryl should seek to establish whether the company policy has laid down the procedure for such kind of a situation.
Second, Cheryl ought to establish whether the information she has demands a legal reaction from her. Cheryl’s situation is precarious. She had to pressure her assistant regarding the rumors of bribing foreign officers. Prior to this, she had no direct information or fiduciary responsibilities. If Cheryl assumed corruption was only at the subordinate levels of the organization, she would have more room for flexibility. However, she supposes that the corruption is taking place at significantly superior levels of the company’s ranks. The situation requires critical thinking on her part considering the reactions the issue will generate.
Should a private investigation be conducted?
Cheryl is attempting to be modest about the situation she is facing as the new CEO considering the gravity of the situation. She considers the ramification of revealing her concerns further than she already has. So far, the reception of her concerns by the subordinates is hostile. None of the staff is ready to stand behind her. The assistant who possesses substantial information has to be pressured.
Additionally, the executives who are aware of the entire situation are unwilling to support her in making the decision to launch an internal audit. If her concerns are unsupported, the management team may set against her. As the CEO, she has a responsibility to pursue the issue. However, it is difficult to get the truth especially from the hostile Hank and the legal counsel who can easily turn against her given his legal experience and probable involvement in the deals.
To expose the truths, somebody must scrutinize the phone annals, spending accounts, and bank statements among other records. Gaining admittance to these records requires that her external counsel clarify his purpose. The action would consequently create an effect more than what an internal audit would generate. Although we are not told why Cheryl called Hamilton Wender, it is presumable that she was resolute in launching an internal audit and wanted Hamilton to represent the company.
In addition to the responsibility of reporting corrupt activities in the company, the CEO has to put into consideration the prospective benefits and expenses of the investigation. The involvement of the former CEO in bribing foreign officers is an indication of the alleged bribery. If the words of the assistant are reliable and credible, it means that Cheryl has an enormous task, and the internal audit may unearth more dirt. A comprehensive organizational inquiry may be expensive. However, if the move will mitigate further bribery and advance the reputation of the company, it warrants an internal audit.
Under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Cheryl has a legal responsibility to report what she is aware of to the board of directors (Finder 2007). Failure to reveal the matter to the board places her and the board at personal risk. The move is advantageous for Cheryl as she will build rapport with the board. She will also open the course of the inquiry and be perceived as a CEO with interest in protecting the interest of the directors.
It is advisable for Cheryl to avoid taking the issue into her own hands considering the magnitude and the implications to the company she is supposed to lead. The decision she makes about the matter is also critical since she cannot sit and assume everything is running smoothly. She should air her concerns to the board chairman. It is imperative that Cheryl and the chairman create rapport considering that he has just completed the recruitment process.
Obviously, he must have chosen Cheryl over Hank. Cheryl should consider the confidence the chairman expressed by selecting her over experienced executive managers he is familiar with and subsequently return the confidence by letting him know what she has heard. Typically, she should approach the issue in a manner that expresses that she is seeking advice on how to approach the matter without compromising the reputation of the company.
In any organization, the alternative of deliberate disclosure ought to influence the way an organizational inquiry is organized and undertaken. It should also determine how internal audit and compliance packages are developed. Regular, continuing training of the staff by proficient legal advisors can assist directors and staff to precede and face a crisis. Therefore, good process management results in sound decision-making and eventual proper corporate governance. It is at this point that the wisdom and experience of the chairman comes into play.
The chairman should advise the CEO to ask the chief finance officer well-phrased queries irrespective of the hostility. The questions should not be personal but professional to reflect on the actual position of the matter. The answers to these queries will give Cheryl comfort or develop extra concerns. The response by the CFO may make it appropriate to request for an internal audit to collect further information. If the emerging information reveals that the issue is grave, the chairman should facilitate the creation of a sub-committee of the board to assist the new CEO.
The approach is essential considering that she is already facing hostility from those affected by the matter as well as others who may have nothing to do with the matter. Naturally, there are employees who would want to see Cheryl fail for fear of change emanating from change of guard in the CEO’s office. The situation is particularly delicate considering that the new CEO is a woman hence attracts dissent from the company’s male fraternity (Finder 2007).
The sub-committee might find it essential to involve an external legal counsel considering that the high profile managers may compromise the internal counsel. The internal counsel already appears to have taken a position in the case. If the board finds it necessary to initiate the process of internal auditing, Cheryl should avoid as much as possible getting involved given that it involves exposing a lot of ‘dirty linen’. She requires running the daily corporate business hence cannot afford to engage in an inquiry.
She will have the opportunity to start on a clean slate without engaging in cleaning the past. Cheryl should be aware that one of the primary roles of the board is to offer oversight and direction to the top management. There is no board or company that expects any CEO – even one who has been with the company for years – to know all on his or her own. It is essential for Cheryl to reckon that CEOs functions at the pleasure of the board. If Cheryl cannot trust the board and particularly the chairman, more problems are imminent (Finder 2007).
Perspectives on ethical leadership
Attention to the nature of ethical leadership increases over time. The phenomenon is particularly so given the multiple recent scandals in the corporate arena. In leadership, ethics entails what leaders do as well as who they are. The nature of the leaders’ behavior and their integrity are the primary concerns of ethical leadership. The aspect of ethics in leadership emerges when leaders have to make decisions. In these situations, ethics are involved either implicitly or explicitly. Ethics influences the decisions the leaders make as well as their reaction to specific situations.
Typically, ethics can be viewed from two major perspectives. These include the leader’s conduct and the leader’s character. The perspective that is concerned with conduct of the leader further falls into two categories of theories. These involve the concepts that focus on the outcomes of the leader’s actions and concepts emphasizing the role or guidelines that direct the leader’s engagements (Nishii & Mayer 2009).
Teleological theories attempt to respond to concerns of what is right and what is wrong by concentrating on whether an individual’s conduct produces the desired outcomes. Subsequently, the outcomes of a person’s actions define the goodness or wickedness of a specific behavior. On the contrary, deontological theories attempt to answer the question of a leader’s duty. The aspect is concerned not only with the outcomes of a specific action but also whether or not the action itself is desirable. Honesty, fairness, respect and keeping promises are illustrations of innately good actions irrespective of the outcomes (Vugt & Kaiser 2008).
The deontological perspective concentrates on the actions of the individual and the moral duties and accountabilities to implement the right decision. The actions of the leader are considered ethical if the individual has the ethical right to perform them, when they do not invade the privileges of others, and when they promote the ethical privileges of others.
How gender impact Hammond Aerospace case
The attitude of males towards females in the workplace plays a major role on how men respond to senior females (McKenna 2008). The assertion is evident in Cheryl’s situation. The management team comprising of Hank and Geoffrey display hostility and stonewalling respectively. Prior to her disclosure to Hank that she was aware of the bribing that took place in the company, Hank had already started showing his contempt for her. When he met her in her new office, he did not bother acknowledging her role as his senior.
He made cynical remarks about the changes he anticipated her to make. Such an outright hostility from a senior manager showed what could not be explicitly disclosed to Cheryl as a female CEO. The employees did not initially know Cheryl personally. Therefore, the hostility was not based on personal familiarity but gender. Those involved in the case may perceive her pursuit of the case as meant to demonstrate to the male fraternity that she was in charge. Consequently, her concerns may not receive as much attention as when presented by a male colleague.
Helpful leadership approaches and outcomes expected
The situation at Hammond is delicate. First, the management team had been assimilated into Rawlings’ way of getting things done. He had an advantage over Cheryl based on the fact that he was a man. The team was used to his leadership style. For Cheryl to be effective in the new position, she requires implementing transformational leadership. The approach will open the avenue on how to gradually introduce fundamental changes in the organizational structure and corporate culture (Dyne & Ang 2009).
The management team will gradually accept that there is a change in the leadership. Transforming the CEO’s office by giving it a new appearance will psychologically prepare the management team for more radical changes. Whereas it is important to maintain a positive corporate culture that holds the company together, it is equally imperative to introduce a culture that respects the position of all the individuals irrespective of gender (Vroom & Jago 2007). Cheryl stands the opportunity to pioneer the culture of respect for individuals.
Evidently, leadership is critical in the success or failure of any organization. The style of leadership employed by individuals or designed by an organization determines the continuity of the organization in case of the departure of an individual from the organization. Leaders and followers are essential in the leadership process. However, the leaders have more critical roles to play in determining the direction the organization should take. The situation at Hammond Aerospace demonstrates this assertion.
The alleged bribery by top executives including the former CEO Rawlings makes it challenging for Cheryl to expose the truth as there is the possibility of tainting the reputation of the company. However, there are various perspectives that require critical thinking to solving the problem. The ability to think critically is put to test. Leadership skills and style will prove fundamental if the company is to survive the crisis. Considering that the definition of leadership remains contested by many quarters, it is imperative to conduct further research to establish the best style and approach to achieve the best results.
The content of this paper is original. However, there are concepts and theories that have been incorporated as researched by other scholars. In scenarios where the work of other scholars has been used, due diligence is made to credit them through citing the source of the concept or idea. Typically, the concepts of the textbook used in class are used to demonstrate that I have comprehended the topic. It is imperative to mention that only the concepts and theories have been used but not necessarily the content.
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