1.0 Extended Introduction
There are many theories that have been put forward that try to address the issue of leadership and success in an organization. Many theorists have taken different issues and focused on them to try to explain the disparities in leadership styles that are adopted by different leaders in different organizations. Since the seventeenth century, there have been researches that have been focused on leadership in relation to hereditary attributes as seen in the works of Galton and Eysenck (1869; Derue et al. 2011, p. 7). In their research, it was intended to explain leadership attributes and identify persons with leadership traits and those with what they termed as non-leadership traits (Galton and Eysenck 1869; Derue et al. 2011, p. 7). In addition to identification of leaders and non-leaders in this research, it was also possible to identify individuals who possessed effective leadership traits (Galton and Eysenck 1869; Derue et al. 2011, p. 7).
This early research has been credited to be the origin of the study and formulation of trait theory that has revolutionized the understanding of leadership and trait (Derue et al. 2011, p. 7). Early research work focused its research on identification and differentiation of character traits that make good leaders which included the person’s experience, academic and/ or technical training that the person had undergone through, leadership style, gender and locus of control to mention but a few (Bridges 1982; Heck 1991; Heck 1996).
Snell and Dean (1992; Naquin and Holton 2006) proposed the use of their competency-based model. In this model, it was noted that the more skilled an employee is and the more likely that this employee can integrate with the core competencies of the organization, the higher the output by the organization (Snell and Dean 1992; Naquin and Holton 2006). This approach is mostly used in building stronger teams at workplaces to be able to address the changes that occur in the organization and the ever dwelling desire of the organization to increase their production.
Blake and Mouton came up with a theory that has been widely accepted although with some minimal critics disputing the findings. According to Blake and Mouton’s (1964; Bolden et al. 2003; Bernardin and Alvares 1976; Norris 2009; Derue et al. 2011) managerial grid, all the concern that pertain to production are plotted on the horizontal axis with numerals ranging from 1 through 9. On the vertical axis, all the concerns that pertain to the employees of the organization are plotted with similar numerals running from 1 to 9.
The best way to describe the leadership thinking is using the McGrath (1984) model on team process model.
2.0 Case Study Analysis
In this case study, the learner will address individual question as posed for better analysis of the BMW case study for the year 2011/12. The learner starts by looking at the leadership style that has been adopted by the BMW CEO Joachim Milberg. Under this section, the leadership style will look at the success or otherwise of this leadership approach based on the case study. This will be followed by an analysis of the technical skills with special emphasis on skill approach as adopted by BMW for successful leadership. Using Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid, the learner will analyze the leadership behavior adopted at BMW. Finally, there will be critical evaluation of the leadership thinking using the McGrath team process model.
2.1 Joachim Milberg
According to the description given in case study on BMW, Joachim has been depicted as a visionary leader. Using trait theory, there is enough evidence that show that Joachim possess good education background. According to Bridges (1982; Heck 1996) and Heck (1991; Heck 1996), it has been noted that experience is a vital tool that has to be considered in the trait theory. In the case study, it is noted that Joachim was a professor having done a doctorate degree in Berlin. In addition to this, Joachim possesses a lot of experience in the management and performance of the organization having served within the organization in the production sector.
Secondly, Research has shown that males are better organizational managers as compared to their female counterparts (Karin et al. 2009). This places Joachim at a better position in management.
Thirdly, trait theory posits that a good leader possesses and continuously undergoes through training to sharpen and increase knowledge (Bridges 1982; Heck 1996) and (Heck 1991; Heck 1996). Looking at the leadership style that Joachim adopts, there is creation of hundred of flexible work shifts that enable employees within the organization to undergo through training. In so doing, there is employee satisfaction since there is a feeling of both job security as well as career development instead of stagnation as evident in most companies.
Joachim does seem to engage all stakeholders including the employees rather than having the all saying and all-knowing dictatorial attitude. While ensuring that the CEO position does remain relevant in the organization’s management, there is the formation of teams that are mandated to achieve different things within stipulated time frame and these teams tend to manage their operations such that they also have a leader who acts as a spokesperson. ,
Based on the leadership profile given in the case study, Joachim posits transactional leadership as proposed by Bass (1985; Karin et al. 2009). For example, it is noted that an employee during an interview said that with Joachim at the helm of the company, employees were satisfied and there was a high possibility that internal wrangles that have continuously characterized the top management board were bound to end. This gives the feeling that Joachim seems to understand the feelings, motivation, expectations and inclination of the employees and other managers and thus every decision that is made is done with all players in mind. This is truly transactional leadership model (Bass 1985; Derue et al. 2011). In addition to this, Joachim understands that there is a high tendency for people to want to continuously increase their academic levels and thus gives the employees the option of virtual/ online studies that are quite flexible to employee’s timetables.
2.2 How BMW Applies Skill Approach
Looking at the leadership approach adopted in BMW, it is evident that there is an inclination towards continuous research and study to ensure that employees remain up to date with the current trends in the technological arena and research on these technologies’ integrate-ability with their current systems. Snell and Dean (1992; Naquin and Holton 2006) proposed a model that they termed as the competency-based model. In this model, it is noted that a well trained employee who is competent in the field is quite critical if at all the organization has success as its focus.
Lado, Boyd and Wright (1992; Naquin and Holton 2006) in their research found out that the competency-based model gives sustainable advantage by ensuring that the organization remains focused and successful. This may be the reason why the BMW has adopted this approach since it is in line with the company’s policy of generational sustainability without reliance on another generation’s investment.
Naquin continues to note that the competency-based model is a model that identifies the knowledge, behavior and skills of the employees and thus the probability of predicting an employee’s action becomes a possibility and thus aids in future organization’s decision making process.
BMW has been able to adopt this approach by creation of strong teams that have proved quite effective in their work. These teams of between eight to fifteen members have been empowered such that they appoint a leader among them that acts as their spokesperson. The person does not have the mandate to give orders nor take punitive measures against another employee but rather such a person is accorded the role of team coordination. In so doing, these small teams act as independent cells that are almost self-sustaining and can raise issues that need to be addressed.
For example, it is noted that there are even award scheme for employees who contribute viable and practical ideas that add to the possibility of reducing cost and increase quality and engagement and can earn up to € 15 000 as a boost for good ideas. This skill approach makes sure that there is continuous skill development in line with the organizations’ core competencies (Naquin and Holton 2006).
2.3 BMW’s Leadership Style and Goal Accomplishment
In the case study on BMW, there is no evidence that lead to one thinking that there are possibilities of overlapping job descriptions. Instead, what is evident is the fact that the leaders have created a flexible worksheet that employee can work in shifts and have off days such that there is continuous production regardless of other commitments or academic pursuits by the employees.
Given that there are small teams that are created in employee’s working environment ensures that there is no disregard of the management and leadership. The fact that these teams have a team leader who acts as their spokesperson shows that there is strict adherence to rules and regulations. To avoid impunity in the same workgroups, these team leaders are denied disciplinary authority and thus lets the top management to carryout disciplinary measures if need be and thus no breach of organizational hierarchy. Based on the Blake and Mouton’s (1964; Bernardin and Alvares 1976; Bolden et al. 2003; Norris 2009; Derue et al. 2011, p. 8), the best position on this matter wound be graded at around 9.
In addition to this, the company demonstrates a lot of care and concern for its employees. For example, employees are given hundreds of flexible work schedules that ensure that the employees have ample time to do other things like attend classes to advance their careers. In addition, since it is expected that employees’ shift take about nine hours per day, arrangements are made such that the successive week the employee can take five days off to compensate for the additional working time and thus time for personal relaxation and reflection with family and friends. It is also stated in the case study that employees’ ideas on ways of improving the organization can be awarded and thus an added advantage for employees to come up with more ideas to improve the organization. The employee interviewed in the case study seems happy with the organization and classifying this on the Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid, the most likely position in terms of employee concern would earn 9.
In aggregate a (9, 9) are evident from the case study (Bernardin and Alvares 1976). This has good ridings in that there is increased organizational performance as well as employee satisfaction hence the continued lead on the sustainability index by Dow Jones. This supports what Blake and Mouton (1964; Norris 2009) explains as effective leadership that demonstrate high stakes in task performance and relation behavior that is visible in overall employee performance (p. 64).
2.4 Team Leadership Research, Thinking and Models
If there is one thing that BMW can be credited with is successful creation and maintenance of effective teamwork program. According to McGrath (1984; Blendell, Henderson, Molloy and Pascual 2001), there are four process factors that integrate the input and output factors for success in any undertaking. To start with, knowledge is very important. For example, in leadership appointments, it is noted from the case study that for top management position, it is quite rare for an outside person to be put in such position but rather those within the organization that have the qualification are the ones that are promoted instead. The reason for this is that they are deemed to have the necessary experience coupled with an embedded leadership style adopted in the organization over time (McGrath 1984; Blendell, Henderson, Molloy and Pascual 2001).
Secondly McGrath stipulates a leadership approach that provides guidance (McGrath 1984; Blendell, Henderson, Molloy and Pascual 2001). There are numerous leadership levels (teams comprising highly trained and experienced personnel) that have been set up that are evidence of leadership support and guidance that enable the organization to fulfill its set objectives.
There is also the behavioral aspect that McGrath (1984; Blendell, Henderson, Molloy and Pascual 2001) proposes. In the case study, there is strong support for communication with the CEO demanding a report in the event that an action that was to be completed within a stipulated period of time fails to meet deadline. There is no mention of punitive measure upon lapse of such deadliness but rather creation of confidence on the employees and open communication channel. This shows the leadership personality that is supportive and gives room for error rate monitoring as well as review of the operating procedures (McGrath 1984; Blendell, Henderson, Molloy and Pascual 2001).
With such an attitude towards work, there is a motivational climate that is created that lets responsible persons aim to reduce errors in whichever field they are placed. Reporting also allows accuracy when it comes to response to alarms and creates team satisfaction on the process openness and enables products to be delivered timely (McGrath 1984; Blendell, Henderson, Molloy and Pascual 2001).
In conclusion, it is evident that BMW’s management and leadership profile as per the case study is upbeat. With Joachim being in the lead, there is clear evidence from trait theory on leadership analysis that the CEO has what it takes to be a good and effective leader since the CEO has good education background and experience while working in the production department of the BMW Company. It is evident that there is high esteem by the BMW management towards people with excellent skills and adoption of a learning lifestyle. On Blake and Mouton’s managerial grid, BMW has evidence of (9, 9) that is excellent for organization’s success. In all things, using McGrath’s team process model, there is enough evidence to show that the organization possesses good teamwork management that has been effective as evidenced by employee satisfaction and overall organizational performance.
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