Martha Helen Stewart is the founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, L.L.C, a leading multimedia company (Sellers, 2005). The company grew and become very successful, thanks to Martha’s autocratic leadership style which gave her unlimited supply of power and authority. Quite often, she would use coercion, intimidation and even exploitation in her bid to achieve her goals. She would often make decisions and implement them without consultations.
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She was so meticulous that she would not allow any detail to escape her attention. She was also quite demanding and keen on perfection, much to the discomfort of employees. This however saw her business expand and remain profitable. It is accepted that her success in the very competitive entertainment industry was credited to her autocratic leadership style.
Apart from her autocratic leadership style, Martha pursued her business with purpose and passion. She also espoused values, which made her concentrate more on giving her customers quality products and services. Her focus was on customers who had the desire to use products and services in the improvement of their style of living. This gave her an edge over her competitors. Martha also valued team rather than individual work.
This is how she won her employees’ commitment. The company was also keen on building loyal and lasting relationships. This way Martha chose to stick with Kmart even with bankruptcy staring at it and was able to help it emerge successfully. It is also evident that self-discipline played a role in MSO’s success because the company was able to remain focused on its products and services and consumer demands.
There are a number of leadership practices and approaches which could be better utilized at different times of the organization; whether the organization is going through times of success or a crisis. Times of organizational success will usually be content with convectional leadership because there are few environmental challenges. There might be no need to revise the way things have been happening due to lack of threats.
Quite often, there will be a lot of emphasis on hierarchical relationships as opposed to task-driven initiatives. Leaders might insist that employees follow prescribed procedures, rules and regulations that dictate organizational activity (Kouzes, & Posner, 2002). In times of organizational crisis, there is likely to be constant environmental shifts, hence calling for a leadership that constantly revises the way of doing things.
Teamwork could be encouraged as a way of making everybody work amicably. Emphasis could be placed on achievement as opposed to procedure so that employees are encouraged to exceed the set standards. Leadership would therefore emphasis on planning, teambuilding, flexibility, communication and urgent conflict resolution and leading by example (Harris, 2003).
MSO needs to take deliberate efforts aimed at shifting its leadership approaches and actions in order to deal with the current crisis. The interactive leadership approach would be the best option (Kazemek, 2008). Interactive leadership encourages employee participation in the organization’s activities and affairs, with the result that the feel part and parcel of it.
The leaders would willingly share information and power, without the need to worry about that their own power will diminish. The interactive leader would release classified information to his colleagues and explain the reasons behind his decisions. This way, he would be making himself vulnerable to his juniors, while enhancing their self-worth.
Those with whom information is shared would share it with others and in the process; encourage their participation in working hard to turn the organization around. He would also give credit to those who deserve it, and avoid asserting his superiority over his subordinates.
There is no evidence of organizational politics in the way Stewart withdrew from being the CEO of MSO, yet continued with her presence in the media. This is due to the fact that she had been found guilty of insider trading as well as obstruction justice. She was consequently fined $30,000 and sentenced to 5 months in prison.
She also agreed that upon her release, she would not hold any position as CEO of a company, or any other that would involve preparation, auditing or disclosure of financial results. She was not barred from media presence. Her autocratic and pushy nature must have egged her on top maintain media presence.
Harris, Michael. (2003). Leadership in a Time of Crisis: The Shackleton Way. Michigan: Eastern Michigan University.
Kazemek, E. (2008). Managing a Business: Leadership Styles Case Study. Journal of Business Management, 1, 45-52.
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Kouzes, W., & Posner, E. (2002). The Leadership Challenge. 3rd ed. New York: Jossey- Bass.
Sellers, Patricia. (2005). Remodeling Martha. Fortune,1, 49-62.