2. Did Harold have a clear vision for HTE ? Was he able to implement it ?
Harold did have a clear vision for HTE, and he managed to communicate this vision throughout the company. However, his behaviour shows that he did not support this mission wholeheartedly, and the transformations which he had planned were dealing with formal organizational issues, instead of addressing strategic goals. The appropriateness of Harold’s vision is also questionable, as his formal approach to management might have spread onto the vision as well. His vision did not grow out of the needs of HTE, and, most likely, it was not claimed by employees.
The transformations initiated by Harold resulted in confusion, decrease of motivation and morale of the employees, and added bureaucracy to the system. The productiveness has decreased as well, and the democratic values proclaimed by Harold were definitely not supported and not implemented. Overall, it is possible to say that Harold had some vision for HTE (which, most likely, did not match the company’s real perspectives), and Harold did not succeed in implementing even that mission.
3. How effective was Harold as a change agent and social architect for HTE ?
Transformational leaders act as social architects, i.e. they shape the shared values of the company, communicate the new direction of changes and mobilize people to accept these changes (Northouse, 2009). From this point of view, Harold was highly ineffective. First of all, he did not consider the views of middle and lower management as well as of ordinary employees, and the transformations were designed by Harold himself and several senior managers. Secondly, the changes created managerial chaos instead of improving performance, and Harold did not consider the feedback of the employees for these changes. Thirdly, the changes were not communicated to the team, and the inconsistency of these changes created significant confusion among HTE staff; the employees could not understand in which direction they were going, although they were aware of the vision. This also points out to Harold’s inability to shape the values and direct the team towards new perspectives. Finally, Harold did not exhibit a particular style of leadership, and this discouraged the employees, because of arbitrariness of his reactions, and due to discrepancies between his claims and actions. The final story with the operations officer also proves that Harold was not able to motivate people and did not succeed as a change agent and a social architect for HTE.
4. What would you advise Harold to do differently if he had the chance to return as president of THE?
Before developing a vision for HTE (perhaps, even before accepting presidency at HTE), Harold should have analyzed his leadership qualities and abilities, using either MLQ or other methods. He seems to be an experienced transactional leader, but transformational leadership requires a different set of actions. It would be possible to recommend the leadership model of Kouzes and Posner to Harold (Northouse, 2009), because this model offers on the practices of transformational leadership. Five key practices identified in this model are modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart (praising others for their achievements) (Northouse, 2009). Harold could adopt these practices in order to become more effective as transformational leader.
In addition to this, Harold should improve such qualities as getting employee feedback and establishing two-way communications, analyze and accept his own strong and weak traits, and learn not to proclaim values which do not correspond to his personal vision. Finally, Harold should pay more attention to the roots, history and culture of the company before devising and suggesting any transformations.
1. Learning about one’s self is an essential step in becoming an authentic leader. What role did self-awareness play in Sally’s story of leadership ?
In the modern conditions of global corporate scandals and overall informational abundance, there is a high demand for authentic leaders, who are real and genuine. The very concept of authentic leadership is rather new and has been not formalized and researched yet. However, there are common traits of an authentic leader present in each model, such as self-awareness, personal balance, optimism, hope and devotion to own values and principles. All existing approaches to authentic leadership stress the importance of such leader’s qualities as personality, personal confidence and originality. The intrapersonal definition of authentic leadership is focused on the self-concepts and the associated actions of leaders; according to the research of Shamir and Elam, truly authentic leaders lead from conviction and exhibit genuine leadership, base their actions on own principles and values and are original (Northouse, 2009).
From this point of view, Sally is a clear authentic leader: her own point of view and experience are the result of high level of self-awareness, understanding of particular features of her own character and individuality, as well as personal courage and optimism, have led Sally to become an authentic leader. She had enough courage to claim that she was a writer, and took the opportunity to write a book on the role of independent oil producers in Texas. She devoted all her time and efforts to this project. Although the project did not receive much recognition, Sally did not give way to despair and did not quit writing. Instead, she felt greater confidence and continued to explore the society, acting as a separate observer, and developing own authenticity. Her success in 1988 was the logical consequence of her devotion, self-awareness and unique vision of the world.
2. How would you describe the authenticity of Sally’s leadership ?
There are many views on authentic leadership. One of this views, intrapersonal leadership, was considered in the previous question. Another view on authentic leadership is the developmental perspective (Northouse, 2009). The components of authentic leadership, according to Walumbwa at al. (Northouse, 2009), are self-awareness, balanced processing, internalized moral perspective and relational transparency. The self-awareness of Sally Helgesen is one of the key components that led her to success. She has chosen a moral perspective basing on her original view and managed to persuade the publisher and the society that the role of women in the transformational periods was highly important. The term “balanced processing” can also be traced during the whole Sally’s life: she kept preserving her originality and analytical approach, while she was looking on the different problems and sides of life.
According to Bill George, authentic leaders have an inner sense of purpose (Northouse, 2009). Sally’s leadership has emerged from her awareness of own role in the society and the ability to clearly communicate her own position. She possessed all five qualities of authentic leader outlined by George (): passion resulting from the sense of purpose, values-driven behaviour, connectedness to the public through trusting relationships, consistency following from self-discipline. She acted from the heart and was passionate about her mission, and these are the qualities showing that Sally had grown into a true authentic leader.
3. At the end of the case, Sally is described as taking on the “mantle of leadership”. Was this important for Sally’s leadership? How is taking on the mantle of leadership related to a leader’s authenticity ? Does every leader reach a point in his or her career where embracing the leadership role is essential ?
Taking the “mantle of leadership” was important for Sally and for her leadership position, because she did not expect such exact visibility and acclaim, and she had to determine her leadership role and position in the new conditions. Since authentic leaders are original, they might often appear in the centre of attention, their opinion and statements can be highly influential as well. Thus, the issue of taking the mantle of leadership is rather likely to emerge for authentic leaders. However, the issue of this “leadership mantle” is uniquely different for every person: for some individuals publicly expressing own opinion and guiding other might be a natural state, and for other leaders, such as Sally, the increase of attention might be unexpected and/or unusual. Also, not every leader might reach a point where he or she would have to embrace the leadership role; for this, the leader should not only possess appropriate qualities and be authentic, but should also address actual problems of the society and appear in the right time (as it happened with Sally).
Northouse, P.G. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice. SAGE.