Vision of a Great Leader

Leadership Photo 5

The above quote captures the very essence of what my vision of great leadership is.  I first saw this inspirational quote in my former manager’s office and it caught my attention right away.  It shows what a great leader is capable of doing.  Great leaders realize the best qualities and strengths in their employees and try to push them to perform at their highest potential.  Their employees may not always be aware of the capabilities they possess at first, but, true leaders have the knowledge and ability to bring out the very best in their employees.

My father possesses the leadership skills that I eventually want to develop.  He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 34 years and held numerous leadership positionsThrough his actions as a father and a friend, he has shown me the qualities I want to foster one day as a leader, myself.  He is a very inspirational person, pushes me to be the very best in whatever I do, and is the most supportive and motivational person I have ever known.  After graduating from college, I struggled with the idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  For the next few years, I held a variety of internships and jobs, none of which lasted longer than 2 years.  During this time, I felt like my career wasn’t progressing like I wanted it to, but he was always there to support me as I changed directions.  All my life, my father has been encouraging and motivating me to believe in myself. He has offered advice and guidance while still allowing me to make my own decisions and to enjoy the successes as well as suffer the consequences.  I hope to one day inspire and lead individuals in the same way.

As of yet, I don’t know what type of leader I am, however, I would like to develop a charismatic and transformational leadership style.  The two styles are very similar to one another.  Transformational leaders, a concept first introduced by James MacGregor Burns in 1978, “stimulate and inspire followers to both achieve extraordinary outcomes and, in the process, develop their own leadership capacity” (Bass and Riggio 2008).  There are four very important characteristics of transformational leadership, they are: inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, idealised influence, and individual consideration.


Charismatic leadership theory, developed by Weber in 1947, articulates “an innovative strategic vision, showing sensitivity to member needs, displaying unconventional behaviour, taking personal risks, and showing sensitivity to the environment,” (Yukul 1999: 293).

Not only do I think these leadership styles are important to adopt, but I would also want to be led by someone with these characteristics.  Unlike laissez-faire and authoritarian styles, transformational and charismatic leadership offers a more personal approach.  They focus more on employees’ needs while motivating and inspiring.  Rather than just focusing on the bottom line, these styles aim to optimise individual performance, which in my opinion is a better way to increase efficiency and effectiveness in most employees.

During week one of my Leading in a Changing World module as part of my global MBA studies at Coventry University London Campus, I was placed into a small group of six students and we were asked to participate in weekly group activities.  At the end of each activity, team members were asked to give feedback to one another in the hopes of improving certain leadership skills.  By the end of this module, I received incredible feedback which will, without a doubt, help me improve several of my key leadership skills.  The following table illustrates some of my strengths and weaknesses that were mentioned:




Very supportive and quick to give praise for a job well done Needs to improve in the feedback exercises; doesn’t like to list people’s weaknesses
Looks at approaches from different perspectives Better time management skills
Treats other team members with respect Lack of confidence
Great communication skills Inclined to over worry about situations
Extremely organised and goal oriented Indecisive
Great attention to detail Reluctant to delegate tasks
A hardworking individual Can be a nit-picker


In week two, my group was asked to build a Lego tower while blindfolded, using specific instructions such as, the tower had to be built with alternating colours.  I found it difficult for me to convey to my blindfolded teammate which Lego piece to pick up and where it was on the table, however my teammates noticed during this exercise that I was very supportive and encouraging during the process, and once the right Lego was chosen, I praised them enthusiastically.  One area in which I need to improve is providing critical feedback.  After each activity, everyone was asked to provided positive and negative feedback to fellow teammates.  I know it’s necessary for leaders to be able to do this, but I found it difficult to provide critical feedback face to face with my teammates.  However, by the end of the module, it was easier for me.  I believe with additional experience I will be better able to provide direct critical feedback and to improve my other weaknesses listed in the table above.

Throughout this module, I have not only learned about, but have been able to practice effective leadership styles.  Managers and leaders need to be aware of specific aspects of the workplace, including diversity, change management and business ethics, and they need to have the knowledge and tools to be able to address them in a productive way.  This module has helped me to do this and has improved my leadership skills in general.



Yukl, G. (1999). An Evalutaion of Conceptual Weakness in Transformational and Charismatic Leadership Theories. The Leadership Quarterly, 10 (2), 285-305

Bass, B. and Riggio, R. (2008). Transformational Leadership. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.


The Importance of Ethical Leadership

work ethics

According to the Center for Ethical Leadership, “ethical leadership is knowing your core values and having the courage to live them in all parts of your life in service of the common good” (Center for Ethical Leadership 2014).  In today’s global world, it is important for companies to conduct business according to high ethical standards.   Long-term success, or even survival, depends on setting these standards and making sure all employees follow them.

I concur with Rubin et al. (2010: 216-17) who state that “ethical leader behaviour can have important positive effects on both individual and organizational effectiveness.”  This is why it is a business leader’s responsibility to establish an ethical code of conduct, to clearly communicate and train employees in the expected ethical behaviours, and to set an example by modelling the policies in decision making and interpersonal interactions.

It is the actions of a firm’s individual employees in dealings with internal individuals and external contacts that establish the ethical nature of the business.  Ethical actions engender trust.  The opposite is also true.  The effectiveness of a company can be severely undermined by a lack of trust between employees, causing unhealthy competitiveness and destroying teamwork.  Furthermore, unethical interactions with external associates can destroy a business.  The importance of a business’ ethical reputation in the eyes of its customers and the communities in which it operates cannot be understated.  A firm that doesn’t hold the respect of its community will have a hard time recruiting quality employees from that community.  A firm that doesn’t hold the trust and respect of its customers will soon be out of business.

right vs wrong

One of the most infamous cases concerning unethical business conduct is the Enron scandal.  In 2001, Enron went bankrupt due to a loss of investor trust and resulting downgrade in their credit worthiness.  Several of its leaders were imprisoned due to convictions for insider trading, money laundering, conspiracy and bank fraud (Forbes 2013).  As a result, their accounting firm, Arthur Anderson, also went out of business.

Many view global corporations as “greedy, competitive, and only concerned with compensation” (Freeman and Stewart 2006: 2), however, the right ethical leadership can establish a culture of good ethics that can be recognised externally.  Premier Inc., a healthcare business located in the United States, was recently listed as one of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) companies, according to Ethisphere (2014).  Premier “not only promote[s] ethical business standards and practices internally, they exceed legal compliance minimums and shape future industry standards by introducing best practices today,” (Ethisphere 2014).  In the video linked below, Susan Devore, Premier’s President and CEO, discusses the reasons behind the company’s nomination, including the processes they have implemented for employees and customers to identify, discuss and report any unethical issues that might arise through hotlines and surveys.


Making the “right” ethical decision can sometimes be difficult.  There are two fundamental theories regarding ethics: deontological or duty-based and consequentialist.  The former holds that “ethics are concerned with what people do, not with the consequences of their actions” (BBC 2014).  Thus the right action is determined strictly by the moral merits of the action alone, regardless of its outcomes.  Duty-based ethics is concerned with people’s motives, affords certainty in decision-making, dictates that certain acts are always wrong, and takes into account human rights.  However, this approach can be overly dogmatic, lead to conflicting responsibilities and support actions that lead to results that leave the world a worse place.

Conversely, consequentialist ethics focus only on the consequences of the decision or actions and whether they are the most “right”.   Accordingly, “The more good consequences an act produces, the better or more right that act” (BBC 2014).  Depending on the approach a person takes to consequentialism,  this set of ethics can be very flexible and applicable to all moral dilemmas but extremely time consuming if not totally impractical, since the outcome of each possible act must be researched and evaluated (act consequentialism).  Alternatively, rule-based consequentialism judges actions or decisions based on a set of moral rules which predict the “goodness” of the outcome.  This approach is much more practical but also less flexible, since general rules don’t apply to every situation.

As a result of the limitations in both deontological and consequential theories of ethics, several more useful approaches to business ethics have been proposed.  I find most helpful five of the 10 characteristics of good ethical leaders that have been developed by Freeman and Stewart (2006: 3) through “observations of and conversations with a host of executives and students…and on readings of both popular and scholarly business literature.”

1.  Articulate and embody the purpose and values of the organisation.

2.  Create a living conversation about ethics, values and the creation of value for stakeholders.

3.  Create mechanisms of dissent.

4.  Frame actions in ethical terms.

5.  Connect the basic value proposition to stakeholder support and societal legitimacy.

Ethical leadership is essential for a business to thrive and the embodiment of these characteristics will go a long way to establish that leadership.



BBC (2014) Consequentialism [online] available from <> [14 June 2014]

BBC (2014) Ethics Guide [online] available from <> [14 June 2014]

Center for Ethical Leadership (2014) Ethical Leadership [online] available from <> [14 June 2014]

CNBC (2014) Premier, Providing Ethical Health Care: Survey [online] available from <> [15 June 2014]

Ethisphere (2014) World’s Most Ethical Companies- Honorees [online] available from <> [15 June 2014]

Forbes (2013) 5 Most Publicized Ethics Violations By CEOs [online] available from <> [15 June 2014]

Freeman, R. and Stewart, L. (2006) Developing Ethical Leadership [online] available from <> [14 June 2014]

Rubin, R., Dierdorff, E., and Brown, M. (2010). Do Ethical Leaders Get Ahead? Exploring Ethical Leadership and Promotability. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20 (2), 215-236.

Change Management


change quote

In today’s global world, changes within organisations are inevitable.  Some drivers of change include: mergers and acquisitions, globalisation, changing demographics, or changes in policy (Millar et al. 2004).  For change to be successfully implemented, it is critical for leaders to know how to properly handle change management.

The first step of implementation is to efficiently and effectively communicate that the change is coming.  Certain individuals act differently when facing significant change.  According to Mullins (2010: 753), some individuals “actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change.”  It is important for leaders to understand the reasons why employees may resist change.  Some reasons are: fear of the unknown, trust issues, lack of communication, set in old ways and security factors (Mullins 2013: 716-717).  Apart from individual opposition, organisational resistance can also result from a strong sense of culture, “maintaining stability, past contracts or agreements, threats to power or influence” (Mullins 2013: 717-718).

“The concept of change management is familiar in most organisations today but how they manage change (and how successful they are at it) varies enormously depending on the nature of the business, the change and the people involved,” (NHS North West n.d.).

Communication and understanding are key factors when motivating people to change and leaders in an organisation must be completely committed in helping and effectively communicating to their employees to understand why change is necessary.

Kurt Lewin, a social scientist and physicist, presented his Change Management Model in 1951.  This model is still used in understanding and handling change processes in organisations today, mostly due to French and Bell’s addition to the model in 1985 (Connelly 2014).

Change Model 1

(Mullins 2010)

Lewin describes three stages to managing change: unfreeze, change and refreeze.  Unfreezing is the process of identifying and understanding the need for change.  Changing is the method of encouraging behaviours that are necessary in order for change to ensue and alleviating any uncertainty that may still be present in employees.  Refreezing occurs by stabilizing and supporting the changes that have occurred.  While this model is rational and goal oriented, many have criticised it for “transforming from an initial state to a final stage.  Today, change is widely recognised as being a constant and continuing phenomena for all organisations, albeit at a faster rate for some compared to others,” (Rees and Hall 2013).

French and Bell took Lewin’s model a step further when they introduced eight factors to help the process of Lewin’s original three stages.  The following image explains which key factors fall under which stage.


(French et al. 1985)

If there is any ambiguity or confusion, employees will resist change and inevitably, it will not be successfully implemented.

In 1992, IBM, a once thriving global company, was in crisis mode.  They had a corporate loss of $4.9 billion, a significant drop in their share price, and layoffs of 107,000 employees (Weeks 2004: 1).  In 1993, Lou Gerstner stepped in as Chairman and CEO and through successful change management and leadership revived the company.  Applying Lewin’s Change Management Model to Gerstner’s style of management, the three stages are evident in IBM’s recovery.


Unfreeze: When Gerstner, who was not a technologist, initially arrived at IBM, he immediately sensed an urgency to change IBM’s “cult-like” culture.  “Gerstner learned the culture only by living in it, experiencing what it meant and seeing the reaction when he imposed his will on it” (Weeks 2004: 10).  This is how he obtained his data and initially identified the numerous problems within the organisation.


Movement: Through leading by example, Gerstner changed and implemented new policies within the organization.  For example, he abolished the rigid dress code of only wearing blue suits and white shirts; he motivated employees to boost performance by showing them pictures of rival business leaders and relayed the disparaging comments that they said about IBM; he implemented eight principles that “he thought should be the underpinnings of the new culture at IBM” (Weeks 2004:13); and he encouraged employees to have open communication by promoting debate and individual creativity and eliminating the extensive use of transparencies during meetings.  These are just a few examples of the many changes Gerstner implemented throughout his time in office.


Re-freeze: Gerstner initially thought that implementing a total culture change within IBM would take roughly 5 years.  In the end, it actually took Gerstner 10 years to successfully implement change within IBM.  Throughout these years, he reconditioned IBMers to the new changes within the company and reversed the company’s decline.


The following is a video that might provide some insight regarding change management mistakes to avoid:

In conclusion, change is not an easy process and it can’t be done quickly or taken lightly.  While some employees thrive on innovation and change, others openly resist it. Leaders need to carefully plan which method of change management to use, such as Gerstner did in accordance with Lewin’s model.  Leaders also must understand the company as well as the employees, be flexible and accepting of change themselves, and clearly communicate, motivate and encourage employees throughout the change process to achieve a successful outcome.



Connelly, M. (2014) The Kurt Lewin Change Management Model [online] available from <> [9 June 2014]

French, W. L., Kast, F. E. and Rosenzweig, J. E. (1985) Understanding Human Behaviour In Organizations, Harper and Row

Millar, C., Choi, C. and Chen, S. (2004) Global Strategic Partnerships between MNEs and NGOs: Drivers of Change and Ethical Issues. Business and Society Review, 109 (4), 395-414.

Mullins, L. (2010) Management and Organisational Behaviour, 9th Edition. Harlow: Pearson Higher Education

Mullins L. and Christy G. (2013) Management and Organisational Behaviour. 10th edition, Harlow: Pearson

NHS North West Leadership Academy (n.d.) Lewin’s Change Management Model [online] available from <> [9 June 2014]

Rees, G. and Hall, D. (2013) Managing Change [online] available from <> [10 June 2014]

Rick, T. (2012) Top 20 change management mistake to avoid [online] available from <> [3 July 2014]

Weeks, J. (2004) Culture And Leadership At IBM  [online] available from < [15 June 2014]



Leadership vs. Management Styles

Is there a difference between a manager and a leader?  Although they share similarities, there are clear differences between the two.  According to Michael Maccoby (2000), a world-renowned expert in leadership, “Management is a function that must be exercised in any business, leadership is a relationship between leader and led that can energize an organization.”

Leadership Pic

Both roles are crucial in an organisation, however, all too often, the two terms are used interchangeably.  It is important to understand the similarities and differences between the two.

Kris Parfitt (2009), Operations Manager at Lenati, points out several comparable characteristics between good managers and good leaders, all of which aim to encourage commitment, action and personal growth: taking responsibility, active listening, consideration and courtesy, open communication, demonstrating intellectual and emotional aptitude, good judgment, open mindedness, and a focus on immediate, intermediate and long-term achievement, as well as others.

While there are many obvious similarities between the two roles, the differences outweigh the similarities.  Effective leaders and managers often have different personality styles.  Leaders are frequently described as brilliant, courageous, charismatic, risk takers, aloof, imaginative and especially motivating.  Their ideas of success typically focus on achievements.  Managers, on the other hand, are often described as rational, problem-solvers, goal oriented, persistent, analytical and intelligent.  Managers’ ideas of success generally center on results.

According to Kotter (2012), the table below describes the typical approaches to tasks for managers and leaders.



Planning and budgeting Creating vision and strategy
Organising and staffing Communicating and setting direction
Controlling and problem solving Motivating action
Taking complex systems of people and technology and making them run efficiently and effectively, hour after hour, day after day

Creating systems that managers can manage and transforming them when needed to allow for growth, evolution, opportunities, and hazard avoidance

  Aligning people

“A management model is the choices made by a company’s top executives regarding how they define objectives, motivate effort, coordinate activities and allocate resources; in other words, how they define the work of management,” (Birkinshaw and Goddard 2009). When describing management techniques, three models stand out: Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y, Max Weber’s Principles of Bureaucracy and Henri Fayol’s Principles of Management.

McGregor, a social psychologist, thought that there were two types of employees; those who dislike work, are unambitious and avoid responsibility (Theory X) and those who are relatively self-motivated and use their intellect and creativity in working toward organisational objectives without external pressure and who readily accept responsibility (Theory Y). Supervising Theory X employees requires an “authoritarian management style” which uses directives and punishment threats as motivation. Supervising Theory Y employees entails a “participative management style” which offers recognition and rewards as motivation. I believe today’s management should have the flexibility to use an appropriate combination of both depending on the personality of the employee. McGregor’s theory is too black and white and most employees fall somewhere on the continuum between these two extremes (Manktelow 2014).

McGregor Theory X and Theory Y

Weber, a founding figure of modern sociology, introduced his Theory of Bureaucracy in the late 1800’s, advocating that organisations should manage employees in an impersonal and hierarchical way, with strict rules, regulations and division of labour. The following video describes his theory in greater detail:

While there are advantages to Weber’s theory such as rapid decision making and working efficiently, I think the disadvantages outweigh them. In this type of organisation, individuals who are self-motivated and enjoy using their intellect and creativity (the majority of people, according to McGregor) would be demoralised and dissatisfied. Under these conditions, innovation and teamwork is discouraged and the organisation would be less able to adapt to changing business conditions.

Fayol, often referred to as the father of management, first introduced his 14 Principles of Management in 1916. They explain how managers should organise and relate to their employees in a productive manner. The 14 principles are listed and described in the table below (Manktelow 2014).

Fayol Principles of Management

Even though current managers find Fayol’s principles common sense, they paved the way for successful management in the early 1900’s. His theory serves as the foundation for many future management theorists. It is still considered the most comprehensive and is offered as a reference to assist managers today.

Because no two people are alike, effective managers must be able to employ a variety of management styles depending on the personality of the individual being managed. It is important for managers to understand what motivates each employee and implement the style that maximises their productivity.

Of these three managerial theories, and my research on others, I would want to be managed using a combination of Fayol’s principles and McGregor’s “participative management style” because I’m self-motivated and enjoy applying my ingenuity and creativity. Since I desire a limited amount of direction, I find a democratic leadership style more motivating than an autocratic or laissez-faire one.

I leave you with this video of quotes from some of history’s greatest leaders.  I hope you find it as inspirational as I do!


Birkinshaw, J. and Goddard, J. (2009) What is Your Management Model? [online] available from <> [25 May 2014]

Kotter, J. (2012) Change Leadership [online] available from <> [26  2014]

Maccoby, M. (2000) Understanding the Difference Between Management and Leadership [online] available from <> [26 May 2014]

Manktelow, J. (2014) Henri Fayol’s Principles of Management [online] available from <> [25 May 2014]

Manktelow, J. (2014) Theory X and Theory Y: Understanding Team Member Motivation [online] available from <> [26 May 2014]

Parfitt, K. (2009) Are Leadership and Management the Same Thing? [online] available from <> [26 May 2014]

Sentenn Capital Investments (2009) Great Quotes from Great Leaders [online] available from <> [25 May 2014]

Vonteese, D. (2013) Bureaucracy Max Weber’s Theory of Impersonal Management Free Principles of Management [online] available from <> [25 May 2014]


Diverse Teams Produce Better Results


Donald Fan, senior director in the Office of Diversity at Walmart, says that “diverse teams often outperform teams composed of the very best individuals, because this diversity of perspective and problem-solving approach trumps individual ability,” (2014).

Diversity Photo 6

What is the definition of diversity?  Ask a thousand people and you will get a thousand different answers.  Diversity can be defined by age, gender, race, religion, culture, upbringing, sexual orientation, lifetime experiences, skill, etc.  In today’s global world, it is important to understand that every individual views problems and solutions in different ways.  We all learn from our own experiences and bring new thoughts and ideas to the table; no two people are alike.  Thus teams composed of diverse individuals will approach problems from a wide variety of perspectives and be able to generate a variety of successful solutions.

Diversity is critical for a global organisation to compete and succeed in today’s modern business world given that these teams are well led.  Therefore, the ability to lead a diverse team is a crucial skill for leaders to possess.  Diversity, especially in the workplace, promotes creativity, innovation and problem solving (WISELI 2010).

In the video above, Leadership and…Strengthening a Diverse Team, Ron Desi highlights ten ways to strengthen a diverse team in order to succeed in the workplace.

  1. “Celebrate what you have in common.” Highlighting the team’s common interests and goals will help develop a sense of belonging and build emotional connections which will induce better teamwork and produce better results.
  2. “Reward differences.” For team members to feel comfortable in sharing different ideas and visions, leaders must recognise and reward diverse contributions. This will help to engender good teamwork and strengthen the team’s output.
  3. “Be clear on team roles.” Every team member must know exactly what their individual role is to fully contribute to the team’s common goal.
  4. “Provide a clear vision.” Leaders need to clearly and unambiguously communicate objectives and direction for achieving team goals.
  5. “Never tolerate discrimination.” Leaders should never allow any bigotry or prejudices. Otherwise the value of the team’s diversity will be undermined.
  6. “Obtain quick wins.” Since diverse teams generally take longer to build cohesiveness, it is important to set early targets and to celebrate quick successes to build team effectiveness and create unity.
  7. “Be a true leader.” Effective leaders offer guidance, support and advice which help each individual contribute to their full potential.
  8. “Have patience.” Successful leaders allow diverse teams time to build cohesiveness to maximise team effectiveness.
  9. “Volunteer.” Leaders should provide opportunities for their team to volunteer as a unit outside of the office. This will help build good relationships and lead to a successful team.
  10. “The ‘old’ rules still apply.” As a leader of a diverse team, be sure to inspire open communication between team members and with the leader, establish team and individual accountabilities, and reward good individual ideas as well as team accomplishments.

By following these ten guidelines, leaders will be able to successfully manage diverse teams and ensure that their teams will produce better results in the workplace (Desi 2010).

Diversity Photo 5

While it’s extremely important for leaders of a diverse team to understand what guidelines to follow to help improve team members’ productivity, it is equally important for leaders to understand “what diversity is not about.”  According to the Chartered Management Institute, diversity is not about diminishing quality, eliminating prejudices, politically correct appearances, filling a quota or a distraction from the team’s purpose (Chartered Management Institute 2007).

Moving abroad to earn an MBA in Global Business from Coventry University London Campus has opened my eyes to a world of diversity.  Understanding my own cultural background, values and experientially-based beliefs in comparison to others has encouraged me to appreciate the value of diverse thinking and approaches to issues.  Throughout my studies, students have been assigned group activities and projects which demonstrate the value of some of Desi’s ten guidelines for building successful diverse teams.

For one of our group activities, students were divided into diverse teams and assigned a scavenger hunt.  As a result of the contributions of the diverse classmates, my team was able to designate individual responsibilities, establish communication channels, and set an intermediate goal to review progress.  One of my team members couldn’t complete her task.  However, she quickly communicated this to the team allowing us to discuss the problem and identify an alternate solution.  The wide range of solutions provided by the different teams, taught me the importance of establishing unambiguous goals.  This activity also demonstrated the value of establishing communication channels and assigning individual responsibilities with holding both the team and individual members accountable.

In today’s global business world, diversity will continue to increase.  Thus, it’s vital for leaders to not only embrace diversity but also to possess the skill sets needed to successfully leverage the potential of a diverse team to produce maximum results.

Diversity Photo 10


Chartered Management Institute (2007) Embracing Diversity: Guidance for Managers [online] available from <> [12 May 2014]

Desi, R. (2010) Leadership and…Strengthening a Diverse Team [online] available from <> [12 May 2014]

DiversityInc (2011) Proof That Diversity Drives Innovation [online] available from <> [13 May 2014]

WISELI (2010) Benefits and Challenges of Diversity in Academic Settings [online] available from <> [12 May 2014]