Leadership and management Essay Example

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In what ways did Greg Brenneman and Fletcher Jones take what George et al describe as an authentic approach to leadership – and in what ways was being authentic not only a strength of Fletcher Jones’ leadership but also a weakness?

There are many leadership styles that people in authority adopt in influencing followers. Authentic leadership is one of the leadership styles adopted by leaders. George et al. (2007, p. 129) define authentic leaders as leaders who demonstrate passion for what they do, practice their values consistently and lead both with their hearts and heads. Such leaders also seek to establish a long-term and meaningful relationship with followers and have the self drive to achieve results. George et al. (2007) continues to say that authentic leaders do not try to emulate or imitate others. Rather, such leaders know who they are and do what they think is best to achieve results (Goleman 2013, p. 51).

Greg Brenneman is one of the leaders that have demonstrated authentic leadership style as described by George and colleagues. Brenneman demonstrated this leadership quality in turning around the ailing Continental at the time the company was at the verge of collapse. First, Brenneman demonstrated authentic leadership by doing what he believed was best to save Continental without necessarily trying to emulate what other leaders had done in such a situation (Landel 2015, p. 4). Brenneman explains that, to revive the ailing company, he identified five areas that needed to be corrected that included fly to places that passengers wanted to go; when they needed to go and in a clean and attractive fleets; ensure passengers got to their destinations safely on time with their bags and that they are served meals at the right time. This way, it becomes clear that, Brenneman was not emulating other leaders but adopted the strategies that he believed was best in turning around Continental. Besides, these strategies means that Brenneman had a self-drive to achieve result, a quality that is required of an authentic leader as George et al. (2007, p. 133) describes. Moreover, Brenneman authentic leadership is demonstrated by the fact that he managed to building a trusting relationship both with his colleague Gordon Bethune and over 40,000 with whom they inspired and worked seamlessly with, thus saving continental. George et al. (2007, p. 136) argue that authentic leaders must be able to build trust relationship with followers and inspire them to work towards the achievement of organizational vision and this is exactly what Brenneman to turnaround the ailing Continental.

Fletcher Jones is the other leader who has demonstrated authentic leadership. The leader demonstrated authentic leadership by creating a vision and inspiring followers to work towards the visions. The leader also demonstrated this leadership by empowering and building trust with its followers. The notable shortcoming of Jone’s adoption of authentic leadership is the fact that it sometimes gave employees more control, thus making the leader loses control over the leadership of the company (Bellingham 2017a, p. 5).

How did Brenneman manage all three of Smith et al’s recurring paradoxes and in what ways did he effectively address any two of Cameron et al’s competing values?

Smith et al. (2016, p. 64) describes three recurring leadership paradoxes that leaders are often faced with in an organization. The three paradoxes include “Are we managing for today or for tomorrow?”…“Do we adhere to boundaries or cross them?”…and “Do we focus on creating value for our shareholders and investors or for a broader set of stakeholders?”( Smith et al. 2016, p. 64). Smith et al. (2016, p. 64) argue that most leaders find it difficult addressing these tensions as they present opposing goals that require effective leadership and decision making. Deciding whether to manage for today or for the future is one of the leadership paradoxes that leaders face and the same applies to Brenneman who faced the same tension at Continental Airline. However, Brenneman managed to address this tension by focusing on long-term goals rather than short-term measures. Brenneman realized to not only revive the company, but also to achieve a long-term growth and success, the company needed a long term plan. For this reason, together with his colleague Gordon, Brenneman developed a long-term strategy dubbed “Go Forward Plan” that focused on three critical areas, namely financial plan, people plan and product plan. With these plans in place, Brenneman and colleagues were not only to turnaround Continental, but also created an elaborate long-term plan that would ensure sustainability of the airline.

The other recurring paradox that Brenneman has to overcome had to do with deciding whether to create value only for shareholders and investors or for the broader stakeholders (Ibarra2015, p. 54). Brenneman states that, to ensure long-term sustainability of Continental after turning it around was to ensure value creation for broader stakeholders, including shareholders, customers, employees and the society as a whole. To realize this, the company identified five areas that needed to be corrected to ensure value creation, not only for customers, but also to help generate returns for the company and shareholders. These included fly to places that passengers wanted to go; fly them when they needed to and in a clean and attractive fleets; ensure passengers got to their destinations safely on time with their bags and that they are served meals at the right time. These strategy worked well by attracting passengers to the airline, thus generating good returns for the company and its shareholders. Lastly, Brenneman addressed the paradox about boundaries by crossing the boundaries through the adoption of total culture change, adoption of new technologies and encouraging team spirit among employees.

The Competing Values Framework (CVF) by Cameron and colleagues is an important tool for analyzing organizational culture. The framework highlights three competing values that include leadership, effectiveness and organizational theory; competitive values of human resource management (HRM) and competitive values of total quality management (TQM) (Cameron et al. n.d, p. 12). Analysis of the turnaround at Continental Airline indicates that Brenneman addressed the competing values of TQM by adopting a clan culture based on employee empowerment, team building, employee involvement and open communication. Brenneman states that, to turnaround the company, employees had to be empowered inspired and actively involved in decision making and this helped achieve a common goal quality delivery of services to the passengers that focused on correcting the five areas that triggered the airline’s failure. Brenneman, however, adopted an adhocracy culture in addressing competing values of HRM. This is demonstrated by the fact that Brenneman used HR as a change agent and as a means of facilitating transformation in the company so as to ensure the achievement of the desired change for turning around the company.

In what ways (if any) did Brenneman’s actions suggest that he had a transformational business model and in what ways did his actions align with Drucker’s recommendations?

Kavadias et al. (2016, p. 93) introduced the concept of transformational business model that is premised on changing the status quo to a profitable business through change. Brenneman’s actions turnaround strategy at Continental Airline clearly indicates that the leader was a transformational leader who believed in bringing about positive change to the company and steering it to the path of success by creating a new vision and rallying followers towards the achievement of the new vision. Brenneman’s transformational leadership is demonstrated by the fact that he managed to transform continental Airline from the verge of bankruptcy to a company that consistently make huge profits. He did this by adopting a transformational business model that began with the creation of a new strategic plan called Go Forward Plan. Within new corporate strategy, Brenneman was able to cultivate a new and winning corporate culture. One of the key transformations that Brenneman made in Continental’s business model was the fact that he changed the airline’s traditional business model that focused on low-cost that was not helping the company win the market by refocusing the airline’s competitive position around reliability and efficient delivery of services to customers with the help of its Go Forward Plan that had four critical components, namely fly to win, fund the future, work together and making reliability a reality (Bellingham 2017b, p. 5). The introduction of the new business model indeed resulted in a culture change that helped save Continental Airline from the verge of bankruptcy.

Peter Drucker is often considered the father of management. His works have remained relevant to date. He made a number of recommendations that have proved important in saving companies in crisis. In fact, Drucker was of the view that managers should see crisis as opportunity that needs to be maximized on. Drucker recommended that businesses need to keep up to date with the changes happening in the business environment and the consumers’ lives. Drucker also suggested that businesses must ensure that the business environment, mission and core competencies are evaluated periodically to see that they fit with the reality (Drucker 1994, p. 96). The actions of Brenneman align with Drucker’s recommendations in the sense that, after taking over the helm of leadership at Continental Airline, he changed the business model by introducing a new business model that aligns with the reality. The first thing he did with the support of his colleague Gordon was to create the Go Forward Plan that involved changing the corporate strategy of the company and aligning it to the reality in business environment by focusing on reliability and efficient delivery of services to passengers instead of focusing on cost. Accordingly, it was by aligning the company’s mission and corporate strategy to reality in the airline industry that Brenneman was able to turnaround the airline into a vibrant and profit making venture.

Explain what Brenneman did to overcome two of the obstacles to learning discussed by Gino and Staats; and provide clear examples of him effectively enacting any three of the five key leadership practices.

Gino and Staats (2015, p. p. 4) identified four obstacles to learning in an organization, namely fear of failure, having a fixed mindset, overdependence on past performance and the attribution bias. Fear of failing is one of the greatest obstacles to learning. Even at Continental Airline, Brenneman faced a similar situation as he was not sure as to whether his new Go Forward Plan would work. However, as Brenneman reveals, he managed to turnaround Continental Airline because they acted and never looked back. In this regard, Brenneman tolerated errors and mistakes that could result from their new strategic moves and was able to learn from them and this made it possible for Brenneman to transform the company. As Gino and Staats (2015, p. 6) allude, the best way to overcome fear of failure by being tolerant to errors as this indicates a sign of learning. Fixed mindset is another obstacle to learning according to Gino and Staats (2015, p. 6). The authors argue that individuals with fixed mindsets always look for perfection and are not ready to accept failure as they see failure as a sign of incompetence. However, Brenneman was able to overcome these obstacles by adopting a growth mindset as he sought for challenges and opportunities that were available in the market. Brenneman’s growth mindset is demonstrated by his willingness to change the culture of the company to one that could promote growth and success.

Analysis of Brenneman’s turnaround strategy at Continental Airline also shows that the leader did enact most of the five leadership practices proposed by Kouzes & Posner (2010, p. 6). The leadership practices include modeling the way, inspiring shared vision, challenges the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. First, the case indicates that effectively enacted the leadership practice of inspiring a shared vision. Kouzes & Posner (2010, p. 9) argue that an effective leader is that who is able to communicate the company’s vision and persuade followers to commit to it. Brenneman’s core vision was to turn it around into a profitable venture. To make this a reality, he effectively communicated this vision to all the employees of the company and inspiring the subordinates to believe in the future success of the company after many years of misguided vision. Second, Brenneman effectively enacted the leadership practice of enabling other to act as Brenneman together with colleague Gordon fostered collaboration with each other and employees and rallying the employees to work as a team to ensure the realization of the company’s vision. Brenneman states, “Our message was this: Continental is your company to make great. Go do it-now’ (Brenneman 1998, p. 176). This is implies that Brenneman made employees feel a sense of ownership of the company and thus had to work hard together as a team to ensure its success. Lastly, Brenneman enacted the leadership practice of encouraging the heart. The leader did this by rewarding employees for their achievements and this had a motivational effect on the staff of the company, thus resulting in improved efforts and commitment to the company’s goals. Some of the ways Brenneman encouraged the heart was by offering on-time bonus and incentives that included an award of 15% of Continental’s profits, as well as profit-sharing during Valentine’s Day (Brenneman 1998, p. 176).

In what ways can Jack Ma’s and IndraNooyi’s personal sense of purpose be seen in how they lead their businesses?

Craig and Snook (2014, p. 2) argue that personal sense of purpose is an important leadership skill. The authors state that purpose driven leadership is critical to exceptional performance. Jack Ma of Alibaba and Indra Nooyi of Pepsi are some of the modern business entrepreneurs and leaders who have demonstrated a sense of purpose in how they leader their businesses (Christensen et al.2017, p. 8). Jack Ma of Alibaba has demonstrated a sense of purpose in his leadership by creating a clear and precise vision for the future that is aligned to the purpose of the company. Alibaba has the vision of making Alibaba a global leader in the e-commerce business environment but to achieve this vision, the company has continued to focus more on small and medium-sized businesses. It is indicated that the purpose of the firm has not changed as the Ma see purpose of the key driver of its strategic planning. In other words, purpose acts as the reference point for all the strategic plans and visions created by Ma. Additionally, Ma’s sense of purpose is demonstrated through his ethical leadership approach as he states that his business is not about policies, but about the good of the future generations.

Indra Nooyi of Pepsi is another great leader whose leadership is driven by a sense of purpose. Pepsi embraces purpose holistically and forms the reference for everything that is done in the company. Since Nooyi became the CEO of Pepsi, he has defined performance with purpose, as does her operating strategy and mission for the organization. For instance, under her leadership, Nooyi has adopted an amalgamated approach that defines country-specific performance targets and highlights the objectives that benefits not only his workforce, but all the key stakeholders, including environment, shareholders and the society. With its performance for purpose, Nooyi has ensured that there is efficient consumption of electricity and water at its production plants, promoted sustainable farming practices with its suppliers and increased affordable nutritional products for lower-income consumers.


Bellingham, J 2017a, “Self-efficacy and self-leadership instruments,’ Leadership and management Lecture, pp. 1-43.

Bellingham, J 2017b, “Transformational Leadership,” Leadership and management Lecture, pp. 1-30.

Brenneman, G 1998, “Right away and all at once: How we saved Continental,” Harvard Business Review pp. 162-179.

Cameron, K. S., Quinn, R. E., DeGraff, J., & Thakor, A. J n.d., Competing value framework, pp. 11-34.

Christensen, C. M., Ojomo, E., & Van Bever, D 2017, “Africa’s new generation of innovators,” pp. 1-10.

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Ibarra, H2015, “The authenticity paradox,” Harvard Business Review pp. 53-160.

Kavadias, S., Ladas, K., & Loch, C2016, “The transformative business model how to tell if you have one,” Harvard Business Review pp. 91-98.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z 2003, The five practices of exemplary leadership, pp. 1-13.

Landel, M 2015, “How we did it…Sedoxo’s CEO on smart diversification,” Harvard Business Review pp. 3-5.

Smith, W. K., Lewis, M. W., & Tushman, M. 2016, “Both/and” leadership don’t worry so much about being consistent,” Harvard Business Review pp. 63-71.