Effective leadership largely defines the development of the company. At present, business leaders contribute significantly to the development of communities. Philanthropic activities of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders are becoming a norm. However, these activities are still regarded as separate areas that have a weak connection with more conventional business activities. Leadership is often analyzed in terms of its impact on the business world, but larger contexts are somewhat neglected. For instance, the leadership style of such well-known figures as Ferdinand Porsche or Henry Ford is often considered within the scope of their business activities and strategies. Such people as Warren Buffett or Mark Zuckerberg are mainly discussed within the domain of their philanthropic activities. However, these two areas, business and social, are closely linked, so leadership should be analyzed in terms of these two aspects. In order to answer the question of whether a leader is good or bad, it is critical to analyze their business and social input. This paper includes a brief analysis of the leadership styles of Warren Buffett and Ferdinand Porsche as well as answers the question of whether they can be regarded as good or bad leaders.
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Porsche’s Leadership Style
Ferdinand Porsche is famous for his engineering talent and search for innovation. He developed the first hybrid vehicle, Lohner-Porsche, which earned him worldwide fame and recognition. He was a talented inventor who was passionate about the automotive industry. Ferdinand was born in 1875 to a family of a mechanic who lived in the Austrian Empire at that time. In 1893, the young man started working for a Vienna-based electrical company, Brown Boveri (“Ferdinand Porsche biography,” 2015). Porsche attended some courses at the Imperial Technical University in the late 1890s, but he never completed his formal education. Eventually, the innovator was granted an honorary doctorate degree from this educational establishment in 1917.
Porsche had quite a remarkable career path as he moved from a worker to a managerial position. In 1931, in the position of technical manager and executive board member, he left Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft he had been working for, from 1923 to build his own business. His company was successful due to the innovative approach and the owner’s perfectionist attitude (Wimmer & Muni, 2012). Under his supervision, the carmaker created vehicles that are still regarded as iconic. In collaboration with his son, Porsche introduced sports cars that became hits (“Ferdinand Porsche biography,” 2015). The founder of one of the most renowned carmakers died in 1951.
Leadership in Business and Social Contexts
Ferdinand Porsche’s leadership style can be characterized by such primary concepts as task orientation, perfectionism, authority, and productivity. From the behaviorist perspective, Porsche was an autocratic leader. He was rather demanding and tried to ensure that his ideas were brought to life in quite specific ways (Wimmer & Muni, 2012). Porsche was particularly impressed by the business strategies that were utilized at Henry Ford’s plant. Importantly, the innovator paid considerable attention to hiring and managed to gather a circle of experts who enjoyed trust and appreciation. This autocratic approach to leadership can be seen as one of the reasons for him to be called a bad leader. He failed to hear his subordinates, which was likely to lead to lost opportunities.
It is also possible to consider this leader’s style in terms of the path-goal theory (Daft, 2014). Porsche can be characterized by directive leadership that implies the focus on instructions, schedules, performance, and quality. The directive leader wants his subordinates to follow the established instructions and standards. Porsche was an innovator who had passion and vision. These qualities are visible in both social and business contexts. He tried to create cars of his dream, and the idea to develop a people’s car articulated by Adolf Hitler was hailed by Ferdinand Porsche.
The innovator was glad to be involved in such a project even though Hitler’s views and methods became clear to the public. In his autobiography, Ferdinand Porsche’s son wrote that his father did not share Nazi views on the future of Germany (Hawranek, 2009). He focused on his project. Moreover, being a representative of a capitalist world, he could have become a creator of the first Soviet people’s car as Stalin also invited him as an innovator and talented carmaker. One of the primary reasons to decline the offer had nothing to do with his democratic values or political beliefs. He did not accept Stalin’s invitation to work on such an ambitious project due to linguistic differences.
He was also target-oriented and seemed to pay little attention to such projects as the development of tanks (“Ferdinand Porsche biography,” 2015). This can be regarded as the second reason for his being a bad leader. He simply focused on his ideas and their implementation without thinking about possible consequences. He was involved in the military industry in the country that attacked other countries or even the very world order that existed at that time. This unethical decision-making makes Porsche a bad leader. Finally, the third reason to call Ferdinand Porsche a bad leader is his ignorance of the social context. The businessman did not contribute to the development of the community or country but focused on his company and his business ideas. He was not involved in many philanthropic projects, although it was possible to play an active part in the process of the continent rebuilding.
Buffett’s Leadership Style
Warren Buffett had a very different life and leadership style compared to Ferdinand Porsche. Remarkably, Buffett firmly believes that his origins largely defined his way of life, stating that he won the Ovarian lottery, in other words, he was lucky to be born to a wealthy American family (Schroeder, 2008). Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway as well as an investor and philanthropist. He was born to a family of a US senator in 1930. He received a good formal education. Buffett earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska and a Master’s degree in Economics from Columbia University. It is noteworthy that the renowned investor has been a successful entrepreneur since his childhood (Kilpatrick, 1995). He sold Coca-Cola and newspapers, and he had a small business with his friend when they were still in high school.
Leadership in Business and Social Contexts
The famous philanthropist’s leadership style can be regarded as democratic when focusing on the behaviorist paradigm. This leader always listened to and heard his subordinates (McGregor, 2015). He valued discussion during the decision-making process. He had his vision, but he also incorporated ideas articulated by his subordinates into the business strategy of his company. This is one of the reasons for calling Buffett a good leader. Such approaches have been regarded as effective in the modern business world. The diversity of views often translates into successful projects as bright ideas emerge. These ideas are implemented effectively due to employees’ involvement in the process of decision-making. Subordinates feel and are empowered, which contributes to their motivation and performance.
It is also possible to analyze Buffett’s leadership style within the framework of the path-goal theory. The investor’s leadership style can be defined as participative. Such leaders encourage employees to take part in discussions (Daft, 2014). Instead of giving detailed instruction concerning the implementation of tasks, a participative leader is likely to start a discussion on possible ways to address the issue. Warren Buffett is this kind of person, which can be regarded as the second reason for regarding him as a good leader. He makes employees feel empowered. More importantly, he encourages people to be more active and express their opinions. In simple terms, such leaders create an environment important for positive changes to occur. These positive changes transcend the business world. Clearly, businesses succeed, and new effective management strategies appear. This is a positive influence on the business aspect. However, active and empowered employees tend to contribute to the development of communities rather than focus on some business goals.
The third reason for calling Warren Buffett a good leader is related to his philanthropic activities. By contributing to communities, Buffett achieves the most important goal of the modern business world. This objective if making the world a better place. Sustainable business practices are now seen as a standard for leading actors on a global scale. His billions-worth donations to Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as other projects, made him one of the major philanthropists in the world. Apart from giving money, Buffett also encourages others to be more socially responsible. For instance, he auctions a dinner with himself and holds it in a restaurant that donates significant funds to charity projects. His philanthropic activities have resulted in many positive changes in communities as well as the entire society. By his projects and initiatives, he encourages people, sets the business culture that can contribute to the development of societies, and advances business approaches to social responsibility and sustainability.
To sum up, it is necessary to stress that the managerial side of contemporary business leaders should be analyzed when identifying their input and leadership style. It is important to pay attention to such aspects as their contribution to the development of communities as well. For example, the analysis of the leadership styles of Ferdinand Porsche and Warren Buffett shows that one of them is good while the other one is a bad leader. Ferdinand Porsche, whose business achievements, as well as engineering talent, are quite obvious, was a bad leader. He used autocratic and directive leadership styles and was too absorbed by his ideas. He was involved in the projects supported by the Nazi government. Porsche did not contribute to the development of the community or post-war society. On the contrary, Warren Buffet was a democratic and participative leader who encouraged employees to be active and participate in decision-making. His business projects are successful. Buffett contributed to the development of the philanthropic culture when businesses are regarded as actors contributing to the sustainable development of communities.
Daft, R. L. (2014). The leadership experience (6th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Ferdinand Porsche biography. (2015). Web.
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Hawranek, D. (2009). Designing cars for Hitler: Porsche and Volkswagen’s Nazi roots. Spiegel Online. Web.
Kilpatrick, A. (1995). Warren Buffett: The good guy of Wall Street. New York, NY: Primus.
McGregor, J. (2015). The leadership wisdom of Warren Buffett. The Washington Post. Web.
Schroeder, A. (2008). The snowball: Warren Buffett and the business of life. New York, NY: Bantam Books.
Wimmer, E., & Muni, A. (2012). Motoring the future: VW and Toyota vying for pole position. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.