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Jeanne Lewis’ Leadership at Staples, Inc. Essay

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Updated: Oct 20th, 2021


The management’s behavior and attitude towards the subordinates is a crucial indicator of the leadership model that particular management has adopted.

Result oriented behavior.

The behavior of Lewis towards her employees can be described as one that was geared towards helping them achieve professional growth in their careers. In a situation whereby the stores were not performing well she went straight to work and made tough choices. For instance in a span of 12 months she had replaced 25 employees who were store associates. Lewis was hardworking and her personality was a motivation to the other employees to work hard towards achieving the organizations objectives.


Her style of management was tight at times but she tended to loosen it with time according to the situations. She was a tough decision maker. At the same time her leadership was full of challenges as she also promoted employees to challenge one another in the course of executing their duties. In her leadership she demonstrated her strategic talents and penetrating mind. She was a manager who liked to inspire the spirit of dialogue and debate on issues so as to dig deep into problems and come up with workable decisions. Her interactions with the employees were intense and hence very much productive. Lewis in her leadership was influential and hence was respected by the employees. This can be attributed to her great insight which she combined with her natural personality. When she was given new appointments like to head the marketing team she worked hand in hand with the employees first by knowing them better and had a desire to learn from their expertise. She achieved this through a lot of questioning and constant meetings with those who reported to her to understand better their roles in the team. Lewis was approachable in the sense that she adopted an open door policy whereby the employees were free to come in and share views with her or even joke with her as long as it was the right thing. She always put on a smile even during tough times as the employees revealed, she was a very positive person even on a bad day. She was very sensitive in terms of reading the minds of the employees for instance when she noticed that the bi-monthly meetings were not productive, she shifted to the one-on-one status meetings where she found that real work was being done.

Lewis’s leadership style is related to the path–goal theory.

Supportive leadership

First of all it is important to mention that her leadership was supportive in a number of ways according to her behavior analysis. In the course of her leadership she showed consideration to the needs of the junior employees under her. She created a free and approachable working environment whereby the workers were free to express their grievances for instance when she adopted open door policy whereby employees could even pop in for jokes with her.

Participatory approach

Lewis’s style of leadership was participative characteristic of the path-goal theory. Before coming up with decisions she had interactions with the other employees and dug deep into issues so as to incorporate their views and opinions into the overall decision making process.

Directive leadership

In this discussion it should be known that Lewis leadership was directive in some sense. As she executed her duties she ensured that the employees knew what was required and expected in their duties. She called for employees to follow rules and the prescribed procedures in the course of performing their duties. This was especially in evidence in the one-on-one meetings when she had been appointed to head the marketing team.


Lastly concerning her leadership being related to the path-goal theory it is vital not to overlook the fact that in all her duties she was focused towards achieving a certain goal for the organization. As earlier indicated she was a leader who liked challenges and that is why she went through many ranks because of her qualities and leadership talents. She believed in the expertise of the employees and appreciated their efforts towards achieving the company set goals. Her meetings with the employees were all aiming at improving their performance to ensure that they achieve high standards and professionalism in whatever role they played in the organization. To some point she demonstrated commitment to boosting self confidence in her subordinates especially when they were faced with challenging tasks and goals for the organization. ( House 330, 1971).

Employee’s behavior

On the part of employees their response towards Lewis leadership was positive and I think I can point out that this is because the leadership was helping them in some way to develop individually and professionally towards greater performance in the future.


The employees responded to her behavior by respecting her and what she stood for. The employees established a good working relationship with Lewis simply because she was approachable and willing to accommodate their views in decision making. These are the basic principles that a good working relationship can be founded. The fact that she was supportive to her subordinates made them appreciates her leadership to the extent that when she moved from one department to other feelings that they had lost her leadership were felt among the employees.

Sense of inspiration

Her style of leadership coupled by her natural personality was an inspiration to many of the employees as they noted. Most of them admired to be true leaders like her. She therefore can be looked at as a motivation for the other employees to work hard in their respective duties for the overall wellbeing of everybody. Because of her leadership talents and strategic management her colleagues and other employees reciprocated by respecting her. This was particularly when she advocated for dialogue and debate so as to get deep into the roots of issues before decision making This then follows that whatever decisions she managed to come up they were all binding and welcome by all and this kind of leadership was really appreciated by the employees. Another important thing to note why the employees found it easy to work with this kind of leader, concerns her better knowledge and understanding and of what is required by each and every individual in the department she was in charge. This was noticed when she was given a new position in marketing and she had to take employees through questioning so as to arrive at this understanding.

The behavior that the employees demonstrated towards the leadership of Jeanne Lewis is very much related to the path-goal theory and this can be viewed in a number of ways.

Improved participation

In terms of participation, it is vital to mention that it is because of the relationship that existed between Lewis and the employees that facilitated their participation in the decision making process. This participation of the employees is an important aspect of the path-goal theory. The employees behavior demonstrated relationship to the path-goal theory in the way under the leadership of Lewis they showed commitment and handwork to their duties. This was mainly because they had been made aware of what is expected of them through the directive nature of Lewis’s leadership. Most of the employees while they performed their duties followed the rules and regulations of the company as directed by their leader. This is quite evident of the feature in the path-goal theory being put in practice. The employees expressed satisfaction in what they were doing for the organization particularly when they witnessed some of their views being incorporated in the decision-making process. This satisfaction is what is associated with the path-goal theory of leadership in management. The employees in their behavior demonstrated to have benefited from the path-goal leadership by the self confidence they showed in their responsibilities. They therefore could work more efficiently and increase the outcome of the organization. Through the leadership of Lewis the employees were able to create a friendly work environment whereby each and every individual feels the sense of belonging and is appreciated. This is very important for the organization and its leadership as far as productivity is concerned.( House 322 1971).

In conclusion it is essential to mention that Jeanne Lewis in her style of leadership has demonstrated a good example of how the path-goal leadership model can be applied in various organizations for the benefit of both the employees and the managers. The employees also through their behavior towards their managers have demonstrated a relationship towards the path-goal theory of leadership. This model of leadership in application keeps everybody focused to the set goals hence increasing the output from all.


Jeanne Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A) (Abridged) Case 78 © The McGraw−Hill Companies, 2002 Harvard Business School 9-400-065 2000

Management of Organizational Behavior ISBN 81-203-2042-5

House, R.J. (1971). A path-goal theory of leader effectiveness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 16, 321-339

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