Case Study Exercise Essay Example

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Question One

Greg Brenneman and Fletcher Jones are great business leaders who put into practice the authentic approach leadership that led to success of their respective companies. When Greg Brenneman arrived at Continental Airlines the company was on the verge of its third bankruptcy in a decade. In many circumstances people will trust you if you are authentic and genuine but a mere replica of someone else. Individuals love originality in every sense. No one can claim to be authentic if he keeps on imitating other people. It is important to learn from other people’s experiences but not try to be them or act like them. Leaders who are authentic work at understanding themselves as well as developing themselves. Greg Brenneman in his leadership style did not try to be someone else and established a philosophy and culture at Continental Airlines that was authentic for everyone to see. As a transformative leader he rallied the employees to be on his side (George et al, 2007). Brenneman had to relate to the environmental reality when making decision at the company and he made sure the employees understood the vision of the company and implementation of any policy.

Fletcher Jones encouraged an atmosphere of creativity and experimentation that gave employees a platform to fully explore their talent. Fletcher provided leadership that propelled his company to success. Fletcher inspired his employees to give their best at their place of work. He was devoted to excellence and wanted things to be done in the right way. Both Fletcher Jones and Greg Brenneman established business cultures that were authentic to their companies and not a replica of someone else’s philosophy. They implemented their original philosophies of work and inspired employees to get on board and accomplish the mission of the company. Environmental reality was the business theory that Brenneman applied at Continental Airlines in order to turn around the situation at the airline
(Craig & Snook, 2014). Authentic leaders serving in mission-driven companies make a difference in the lives of all stakeholders like was the case for Fletcher Jones and Greg Brenneman. Practicing authentic leadership was also a weakness to Fletcher Jones leadership since allowing all members of the organization to act pose a challenge of harnessing all the ideas into one shared vision of the company. Fletcher included staff in decision-making and there were no privileges for senior managers. The decision-making process was therefore slow and challenging hence not making possible to take advantage of some nick of time opportunities.

Question Two

Three recurring paradoxes discussed by Smith et al include innovation paradoxes, globalization paradoxes and obligation paradoxes. Innovation paradoxes involve competing interests between managing for today or for tomorrow. Globalization paradoxes entail deciding to adhere within boundaries or crossing them. The obligation paradoxes revolve around creating value for the organization shareholders and investors or for a wider set of stakeholders (Ibarra, 2015). Brenneman focused on ensuring the company was profitable while also focusing on the future of the company. He had to fund the future while ensuring that the airline flew to win. He focused on the core assets and did away operations or flights that made the company to lose money. He tried as much as possible to make the company grow using its assets. On globalization paradoxes Brenneman he built hubs at Cleveland, Newark, and Houston. He built lasting relationship within and across organizations to assist in shaping the destiny of the company. He drastically reduced the fleet types from thirteen to four. He had to track how cash was flowing through the company and he restructured the balance sheet. On innovation paradoxes he expanded the customer mix from backpacks as well as flip-flops to briefcases and suits. He went ahead to revise the marketing policies for the purpose of enhancing relationships with travel agents, frequent fliers and corporations (Craig & Snook, 2014). On obligation paradoxes he made sure employee confidence is restored and Peace is maintained among the work groups. The changes that he made at Continental Airlines were able to get over the recurring paradoxes as discussed by Smith.

Question Three

A transformational business model integrates technology’s potential in order to deliver on emerging market needs. A business has to keep pace with crucial changes in the business environment as well as lives of consumers. Changes that Brenneman implemented at Continental suggest that he had a transformational business model because he inspired the employees to adapt swiftly. Drucker recommends that management has to go beyond the how-to and further consider why-to. Many successful organizations have a theory concerning how their business can thrive considering the versatile demands shown by consumers; as well as the competitive business world. There are three things that have to be considered and these include the environment, mission/purpose and competencies
(Ibarra, 2015). The environment has to do with other people and competencies describe what one has to be exceptionally good at providing the benefits. The mission is the benefits that one intends to provide. Many organizations fail because they do not continually re-validate the theory of the business. All assumptions concerning the core competencies, the environment and mission have to fit reality. Flexibility and being able to adapt to change is very important. The theory of business has to be known and be understood by everyone throughout the organization.

Brenneman had the go forward plan where the strategy involved improving products, understanding markets, increasing revenue as well as infusing employees with the energy and power to transform. He established Continental’s corporate culture that identified the company. Brenneman had crafted a business theory that he had to follow through in order to accomplish his mission at the airline. He made drastic changes to the airline that aligned it with the business theory that he had crafted. He went beyond how-to and considered why-to as recommended by Drucker. An organization has to understand who they serve, its structure, the market, their customers, competitors, and the implications (Craig & Snook, 2014). The purpose entails providing benefits that meet the demands of the environment. In order for an organization to excel it must maintain leadership and this is projected in the competencies such as conceptual skills, technical skills, and core competency skills. Brenneman went ahead to revise the marketing policy and inspire the employees by giving incentives that made them resonate well with the business theory that he had established. Drucker is categorical that the assumptions of a company concerning its environment have to resonate with reality. Continental Airlines seemingly was not aware of the needs of its customers and Brenneman had to make drastic changes in order to turn around the company to a profitable venture. Previously the management at Continental had not considered the impact of the environment when making changes to its business policy.

Question Four

Gino and Staats (2015) agree that conditions that are found in man workplaces hinder learning hence curtailing performance. The authors urge managers to enable employees to act. Some of the obstacles enlisted include insufficient reflection, fear of failure, having the conformity belief and inadequate frontline engagement in tackling problems. Brenneman created a platform for employees to explore their potential and demonstrate what they were capable of. He overcame fear of failure by implementing policies without having a double mind that they may backfire. One important thing that he did is that he made sure all employees are supporting the initiatives he had put in place to restore the company (Brenneman, 1998). He gave his staff a learning opportunity to experimenting some of the new policies. Brenneman had sufficient experience to overcome the challenge of insufficient reflection. Working as a team and involving all employees in shaping the work culture at the company helped Brenneman to overcome the challenge of conformity. The prevailing status of the company called for changes to be undertaken in order to turn around its fortunes. It was on the verge of being declared bankrupt for the third time in its history. Any manager who wanted to do something about this would not have conformed to pattern of events that had led to the existing situation. He changed the marketing strategy and dealt with of the aspects of the company operations that were not profitable. In doing this Brenneman made sure that he communicated effectively to all employees and assigned roles that were easily understood. Every employee realized that the problem affecting Continental Airlines was part of his own personal problem. They had to collectively look for the solution. This approach of making the workers to own up was very effective in steering the company to greater heights. Another way of overcoming the challenges is helping employees to identify their strengths and apply them in the company (Goleman, 2013). Brenneman created more room for employees to explore their talents and give the best to the company. He understood his purpose and established connected relationship within and outside the company to help mold a new direction that bore fruits. Self-disciple was important to him and following his plan to the end.

Question Five

Indra Nooyi sense of purpose is seen in her leadership by allowing others to come up and explore their potential. Jack Ma and Indra Nooyi were able to inspire a shared vision which is a big challenge to many managers. Indra Nooyi has done a lot to transform PepsiCo. She transformed the business mode at PepsiCo. The personal sense of purpose demonstrated by these leaders enabled other people working under them to act. Team work and collaboration was enhanced hence strengthening one another. Some attributes manifested through these two leaders include trust, confidence, teamwork, and empowerment. Creativity is enhanced when employees are inspired to share the vision of the business. Innovation can only be demonstrated where employees are allowed to explore their talents. Jack Ma was able to recognize the potential that other people could not recognize (Goleman, 2013). Jack Ma has a passion for climate change and hence ensures that the environment is taken care of by his business empire Alibaba. Ma inspires his employees and has emphasized the importance of a good attitude in order for someone to succeed in business. The emphasis in self-belief is very important in making the employees to have a sense of accomplishment and tackle any challenge with a positive attitude. Alibaba Business Empire has prospered because of the inspiration that is drawn from Jack Ma as its founder.

Indra Nooyi has been able to push the marketing of healthier products in era that people are more aware about the health implications of what they consume. Nooyi was able to apply his personal sense of purpose through strong marketing of products as healthy. The world is moving towards healthier products due to the increase in lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. She was able to create a team that is vibrant and resonate with her marketing campaign. Indra Nooyi sense of purpose can be seen in how she is committed to delivering the vision of the company through an appropriate strategy that reflects with reality (Craig & Snook, 2014). Both Nooyi and Jack Ma appreciate the importance of recognizing the impact of the environment on the company’s products. Jack Ma and Indra Nooyi are authentic leaders that projected what they believed in and inspired the employees to work towards a common goal. The sense of purpose enabled made the two leaders to be meticulous in their working towards a common goal for their respective organizations.


Brenneman, G. 1998, ‘Right Away and All at Once: How We Saved Continental’, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 76, Issue 5, pp162-173.

Craig, N., & Snook, S. 2014, From Purpose to Impact: Figure Out Your Passion and Put It to Work, Harvard Business Review 92, (5): 105–111.

Goleman, D. 2013 “The Focused Leader” Harvard Business Review, December, pp51-60

George, B. Sims, P. McLean, A. and Mayer, D. 2007, ‘Discovering Your Authentic Leadership’ Harvard Business Review, February, pp129-138.

Ibarra, H. 2015, The authenticity Paradox, Harvard Business Review