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Strategic Leadership: Gap Inc. Case Study

Executive summary

This paper reviews leadership models and theories with reference to GAP Inc. It begins by reviewing the theory and model that is currently utilized in the company. In addition, it avails a number of methods to be highlighted to put the company back on the trendy success.

The paper further compares the management model with other successful companies such as Apple Inc. and Walt Disney. The comparison is used to highlight the success that these organizations have achieved with strategic leadership. Outlining all these will enhance the importance of strategic leadership to organizations.

Adair (2010, p.112) said, “Leadership position and model helps to inform the management to monitor development process”. The frame work of competency comes out clearly by giving out techniques to be used to develop leadership capabilities. Developing leadership strategy will enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Factors such as environment competitors and company resources contribute to strategic management (Finkelstein, Hambrick & Cannella, 2008 p. 8). With a proper strategic leadership, the management of the enterprise is able to have a substantive decision making as well as responsibilities. The performance of GAP Inc. is significantly determined by the choices the organization had to take.

The report concludes by giving recommendations to the organization of the best approach towards reviving the success of the company. It also summarizes the content in the report.


Every organization depends on leadership and management to guide them towards achieving their set goals and objectives (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison, 2003, p 5). When changes affect the organization strategic plans the same leadership and management are relied upon to guide the organization through these changes. Companies such as GAP have failed to adapt to change hence they are experiencing uncertain future. Change is perceived to the perfect way to create leadership capabilities.

Leadership strategies are believed to be the perfect solution to salvage such companies from uncertainty. Research carried out indicates, “Organizations need Leadership that will implement the changes in regard to their capability” (Pasmore 2009, p. 8). A superior leadership strategy will look into four basic factors that describe exemplary leadership in an organization.

These factors include; the quantity of leaders at every level and location. Another factor is quality desired in the selection of leaders. The third factor is to consider the skills, and behavior required to implement business strategies. The fourth factor is to evaluate the leadership culture in collaboration and relating to employees as well as creating opportunities. The last factor is to have a collective leadership capability across different managerial levels.

There are various methods that should be considered within an organization to instill competency framework and define qualities of outstanding leadership. Bleak & Fulmer (2009, p. 3) states, “leadership culture within the organization is the key to initiate values, and practices that will measure up to the changes that have affected the company”. GAP Inc. should consider utilizing innovative leadership, which will keep the company on the current trend in fashion.

This style of leadership requires the company to consider its entire consumers and their preferences (Pasmore 2009, p. 3). Under leadership, Steve Jobs is the most innovative CEO in the IT sector. “Apple inc. had constant innovations and renewal of its products” (Lin, 2011, par. 3).

Jobs placed much emphasis on innovations which accelerated the structural growth of the company. This style will influence staff to improve on efficiency. GAP management should learn from this example and pursue the usual trademark of being the trend setter in the fashion industry.

The second method that GAP inc. should consider is to embrace transformational or participative leadership style. This style will transform organizational performance. The concept changes the vision of leadership which transforms the company’s activities into the market (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 4).

The low performance by the company may be attributed to a deteriorating leader-follower relationship. In all organizations, human resource is the most crucial department. Like in Walt Disney Company, the Disney brothers instilled a sense of respect to their staff regardless of the status (Wade 2009, par 9). This has propelled the company to have a high standard performance.

The staffs are also intrinsically motivated. GAP should implement this on their entire outlets worldwide. The participative approach will result to progress in attaining financial benefits in the global market (Wade 2009, par 7). They rely majorly on their staff in all the retail activities in the market. A valuing human resource will motivate the employees’ performance and raise the sales of their product in the market.

Currently, GAP Inc. is using situational leadership style. The management of the company implements leadership according to the situation (Situational Leadership, par. 1). However, this style is not fully implemented since they have failed to assess which proactive measure should be taken when certain changes face them.

“Some situations will require autocratic leadership while others will need participative leadership” (Situational Leadership, par. 2). The management of GAP Inc. failed to instigate the different action for the different situation. For instance, when the company experienced a high demand for the latest style of fashion from its clothing line, the company could not meet this demand.

With such a failure, the company needs to review its leadership strategy. An outstanding Leadership strategy will close the gap between the current situation in the company and its desired destination. Adair (2010 p.113) said, “Leadership development strategy will identify the weakness of the current reality at the company and includes directions towards developing exceptional leadership skills and behavior”.

When developing leadership strategy, it is vital to identify opportunity for individuals to learn new skills. The GAP management ought to look for that momentous ‘teachable moment.’ GAP Company faces many challenges as a result of diversifying its product line and embracing changes in the market field.

They lack a leader who will bring in new skills in the management. Business strategy report indicate, “this new leadership strategy will be a perfect opportunity for the management to have the most appropriate individual for any higher level opening in the managerial post” (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 8).

The teachable moment will articulate direction for the firm to achieve an excellent leader in the future. The leadership development attained should be linked to corporate strategy as well as, a business strategy. This leadership development program seeks to reinforce success in the market place through the introduction of new, fresh skills (Pasmore 2009, p. 23). Moreover, the recognition of values in leadership development will lead to competency for better performance in the market.

Designing a leadership plan will ensure the business satisfies its needs. It aligns its activity towards achieving set objectives. Bleak & Fulmer (2009, p. 5) claim “the best plan is to establish a cross functional program which will transform the human resource to be flexible in all departments”.

This will be an opportune venture for the company to diversify its product line. The program will employ certain criteria to identify people within a perspective strategy. This framework will be a conceptual approach to resolve problems that may affect the company.

The plan instills a participative program where all employees will participate to ensure the company goes back to the helm of the market. Hughes & Colarelli (2005 p. 9) claims, “The plan will also take the company back to its competitive advantage in the market”. In order to improve performance in the market, there are five core areas that the business strategy will upgrade. Bleak & Fulmer (2009, p. 6) continue to observe “the plan will ensure that GAP Inc. has a high performance record”.

This will be attained by evaluating standard procedures in the current operations and making crucial changes that will bring about development. Employee behavior will also be a subject to review since peer recognition and employee opinion will assist management in rectifying its shortcomings.

Furthermore, GAP Inc. should shift its focus toward customer preference and satisfaction. The company will put all customer expectation into consideration. These should be followed by a continuous improvement of products in the market. The company should build a mutual relationship with its customers. In addition, leaders within the company will be expected to provide direction and clarify the strategic plan implemented (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 10).

This will ensure the commitment of all employees towards making the company a success. The same strategy is applied by Steve Jobs in his style of leadership (Lin 2011, par 5). The flexibility instilled among the employees should also be implemented in the market field on a global perspective. GAP Inc. boasts of having more than 3000 stores globally.

The company should be flexible to cater for this large market. In the past, it has majorly relied on American market. It has been designing stylish clothes according to the demand in the market. The main customers are optimistic American casual style.

Apart from the brands it has GAP Inc. should introduce more products in the clothing lines. This will enhance its globalization process. With the change of the economic climate, the company should look into new avenues to improve its earning in the global marketing. The entrepreneurial leadership provided by Glenn Murphy has a high potential to push the company into a profitable business operation.

All he has to initiate is a proper task aspect for his employees. Murphy should display professional mastery of the business and focus on improving the company’s position in the market.

Moreover, managing resources should be a prime concern for the company (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison, 2003, p 21). When resources are properly managed the company, will be able to make massive strides towards success. The same should be replicated towards ensuring that all the staffs are well managed. This will promote and facilitate the development in the company.

The development of skills requires the company to undertake several steps. First, the leaders must be socialized to take the leadership position in the company. This will make them aware of the developmental requirements. Secondly, the company should allow individual assessment as well as organizational assessment.

This will open up for self awareness and information to identify fit personnel to fill up managerial posts (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 6). Thirdly, leaders should undertake work assignments as well as a special assignment to make the leaders ready to address the ongoing issues and changes in the company. It will also initiate leadership culture. Lastly, cross-functional learning will execute staff to work together as a team across boundaries of managerial levels.

The skills and talent will develop over time. Most leadership development programs have a period of three to five years. This period allows for both organizations and individuals to grow with resource management. The development will cut across work assignments mentoring and learning opportunities.

Developing leadership skills should consider the difference in requirements in the different managerial levels (Pasmore 2009, p. 20). It should also consider requirements of the different functions and location. Implementing this skill will diversify leadership ability and complement attention to specific needs of the learners within the different levels, function and location (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 8).

The skills can be instilled via various channels. The best possible channel is through a company’s activities. Employees are expected to engage in these activities in a meaningful way. By their engagement, the management will get a response on the weakness of their system, and they can attempt to align positive directions (Pasmore 2009, p. 22).

An executive engagement in talent and skill development supports the company into investing for future model behavior (Finkelstein, Hambrick & Cannella, 2008 p. 29). This will create new leadership cultures that demonstrate support for change. Another channel of initiating skills development is to organize leadership meetings and events.

With the high economic climate at the moment, this is the most cost effective procedure to ensure the company meets its obligation of skill development within the minimum cost. Moreover, team building will come in handy to supplement skill development. This will also enable the organization to break boundaries within its departments and enhance cross functional process (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison, 2003, p 18).

As a result, the organization will fulfill its learning objectives as well as internal assessment. Team members will provide the necessary information and relationship ideas in the organization. This will be supplemented by coaching or mentoring programs. Most employees will look upon their superiors to mentor them towards achieving career success. This tool is quite powerful for the freshly recruited trainees. This is because the company will invest towards employing well-trained personnel in the future.

The usefulness of the plan in place will shape the staff towards becoming effective and efficient employees. It gives a reflective mindset of managing oneself. Developing the ability to reflect and make meaning of intelligence within the company. Research indicates “Plan is a perfect opportunity to enhance management within the organization” (Bleak & Fulmer, 2009 p. 6).

It is a reliable channel for the leadership to analyze and synthesize different strategies for making the business a successful. This planning method will open up for the ability to challenge unproductive decisions taken by the management. It will provide entrepreneurial leadership within the company.

The planning method has a prudent framework, and effective control measure that will see to it that the business does not fail (Pasmore 2009, p. 23). The control measure assesses the risk facing the company and manages it before it dawns on the company. Planning method sets the company’s values and standards at all managerial levels in the company. Moreover, the plan aligns to the objectives and goals of the organization.

A useful point of this planning method is to ensure the company is in a better position to review its objectives and management performance. The planning method enhances proper financial and human resource management (Hughes, & Colarelli, 2005 p. 11).

Moreover, the plan outlays ethical consideration within governance in the company. The ethical framework will portray transparency and a sufficient corporation in a more democratic manner. As a result, the level of responsibility within the organization is heightened. Leadership competency report asserts, “The planning method seeks to instill integrity, courtesy, competence, and objectivity among the employees” (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison, 2003, p 7). This will spark professionalism and enhance performance as well.

The review of leadership theory will encourage participation and commitment of employees (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 9). It gives the company several options of leadership styles to initiate in the company. Apart from the reviewing leadership theories, the planning method will develop skills to the potential leaders.

This is a crucial tool for diagnosing leadership and management. The control process of monitoring upcoming leaders will involve evaluation and assessment of potential personnel (Hughes, & Colarelli, 2005 p. 14).

This ensures that the leaders in the leadership position have undergone a healthy learning climate and have qualified diligently to fit into those leadership positions. Bleak & Fulmer (2009, p. 1) explains, “With all this importance of the planning method, the company will have covered the gap between the current reality at the company and its desired future destination”.


Pasmore (2009, p. 27) claims, “Having the right leadership strategy in place will spark talent sustainability”. This opens up a great opportunity for the company to implement its business strategy. Research shows “Leadership strategy supports the effective performance of the organization” (Bleak & Fulmer 2009, p. 11). Business strategies that accompany a perfect leadership propel the company to embrace the changes in the market.

Leadership strategies and leadership development act as an investment for the business. It is an advantage for the management because of the learning opportunity it provides. A good business strategy is the foundation for a successful organization (Bolden, Gosling, Marturano & Dennison, 2003, p 40). The CEO hopes to achieve new leadership team and leadership culture. On the other hand the employees are bound to be open to influence by their leaders.

This analysis of threats affecting organizations safeguards members of staff and the interests of the organization as well. There is no institution or organization that succeeds without strong leadership. Effective leadership can be attained by leadership development and learning process.

Adair (2010 p.110) claims, “by having a strong leadership, the company will benefit in having flexible and collaborative employees who will adapt to change circumstances with much ease”. Great leaders play a pivotal role in the success of their companies. As a result, companies prosper in the global market fields.


Adair, J 2010, Strategic Leadership: How to Think and Plan Strategically and Provide Kogan Page Publishers, Direction London.

Bleak, J L & Fulmer, R M 2009, ‘Strategically Developing Strategic Leaders’, Best Practices in Leadership Development Handbook. pp. 1-12. Web.

Bolden, R, Gosling, J, Marturano, A & Dennison, P 2003, A Review of Leadership Theory and Competency Frameworks, Centre for Leadership Studies, pp. 1-44. Web.

Finkelstein, S, Hambrick, D C & Cannella A A 2008, Strategic leadership theory and research on executive top management, Oxford Press, New York.

Hughes, R L & Colarelli, K B 2005, Becoming a Strategic Leader – Your Role in Your Organization’s, Wiley Enduring Success, West Sussex.

Lin, L 2011, ‘Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs’, Article Dashboard. Web.

Pasmore, W 2009, ‘Developing a Leadership Strategy: A Critical Ingredient for Organizational Success’, Centre for Creative Leadership, pp. 1-28. Web.

, n.d. Web.

Wade, S 2009, . Web.

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