This essay considers management and leadership at W.L. Gore. This company has a wide product range consisting of items such as shoes, electric cables, guitar strings, astronaut outfit, army outfits, divers etc. W.L. Gore is an organization that seeks to improve all aspects of its operation continuously. From human resource to environmental concern related issues, W. L. Gore strives to meet best standards possible. To drive this vision is a team of leaders and managers.
Differences between Management and Leadership With Reference To W. L. Gore
One of the greatest features of WL Gore is its organizational structure. At Gore, there is no CEO; all the employees are called associates (WL Gore, 2009). The lattice structure as favored by the Founder, Bill Gore puts no one on top of the other thus no body plays the role of assigning duty to others. The associates are organized in groups which have a leader who is elected by the group members. No employee has a title in this organization thus all the employees are equal. In addition, Gore does not have any organization charts and it does not have a defined communication channel. Communication therefore takes place within the groups and directly to the person with which one wants to communicate. This kind of scenario helps make a clear distinction between management and leadership. In principle, management is delegated leadership. Therefore, while management is more of institutional or office based, leadership is individual and initiative based. At W.L Gore, focus is on leadership as opposed to management. One has to be a leader before he or she can assume management (W. L. Gore, 2009).
The emphasis on leadership rather than management at Gore has resulted into a friendly working culture. With a team based approach and lack of hierarchies and supervisors, the associates are usually accountable to each other and not to a boss. Hands on approach to assignments are the order of the day at Gore and all the members taking part in a project have the mandate to contribute innovatively towards the success of the project. Believing that the abilities of the people are the key to the organization’s success, all members are given an atmosphere where they can maximize their potential while encouraging each other. At Gore, associates are hired without a specific job description and it is therefore the work of sponsors who have an idea of the needs of the company who later assign the new recruit in the place that suits him best. Four basic principles guide the associates in their day to day work: Fairness between associates and every other person, encouraging, assisting and letting fellow associates expand in knowledge, skill and responsibility score is encouraged, making own commitments and sticking to them and finally consultation between associates before any action.
Role and Responsibility of Leaders in Fostering a Healthy Organizational Culture
One of the key roles of leadership and management in the W. L. Gore set up is motivating and empowering employees. Every employee at Gore has a role to play. They are all involved in one form or another in the effort to ensure that the company succeeds in its endeavors. They are all recognized and appreciated because of their contribution to the company. Recognition is one of the key factors in employee motivation (Betamen & Snell 2009).
The second key role of leadership and management is to facilitate creativity and initiate. Facilitating creativity and initiative is one way of providing direction at a company without necessarily having to be dictatorial. Management only provides an enabling forum and gives specifications in terms of basic standards of operation. At Gore, every idea from every associate is valued and given a chance to prove its worth (WL Gore, 2009). Each associate has to identify personal development opportunities e.g. availability of learning and self advancement opportunities. All that the senior associates do is to encourage, allow and assist fellow associates to expand their skills and knowledge (WL Gore, 2009).
Leadership and management at Gore exercise and exert control but this is not hierarchy based. This is a leadership model that employees the systems management model. A system of symbiotic relations has been created where associates support each other with none looking down upon the other. For the purposes of control, the system and its standard operating procedures provide the limit. Leadership and management only ensure that the standard operating procedures are in tandem with changing times and suit the organizational objectives. This is established through participatory and consultative processes (WL Gore, 2009).
It is the role and responsibility of management to measure performance and productivity. Productivity is measured in terms of ratio of outputs against inputs. Outputs consist of all material, man-hours, methods, machines, measurements efforts employed in production of outputs. Outputs refer to the final products released or developed through a given process. Performance of employees is measured in multi varied ways. At Gore, self appraisal and peer appraisal is the norm. A 360 analysis is done to capture all functions that would inform an employee or associates performance. Employees are ranked against each other and paid according to their performance. Depending on the contribution of an associate to a given project, he will consequently get a pay that is relative to that contribution.
Leadership and management provide clear strategic objectives that translate into goals and action plans for employees (Betamen & Snell 2009). At Gore, strategic goals and all functions that develop out of ideas generated by associates are strategically planned for. Strategic management has been infused into the organizational culture. Every person has the knowledge that he must be creative and innovative. Apart from coming with a creative idea, every associate is expected to guarantee success for the idea though consultatively generating strategy and feasible action plans (W. L. Gore, 2009).
Impact of Globalization on Management across Borders
Due to globalization, competitiveness of every organization, whether small, medium, or large has changed (Betamen & Snell 2009). For whatsoever organization, every possible avenue has to be explored towards maintaining a competitive edge not only over domestic but often international competitors as well. Due to technological advancement the world is to a great extent a small village. Information flies around like air the more reason why everything is e-‘something’. From marketing to governance, the internet has taken over; digital is the password and electronic devices life essentials. From more connectivity through increased flights from city to city and town to town, international interactions and transactions are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Multinationals have not been left behind; rather the globalizing economy has empowered them and breathed new life into most of them. They are now entrenched in host countries under the guise of partnering with locals. These quasi partnerships plus other real partnerships give multinational business a formidable base against any local competition. This case is more evident in developing or underdeveloped countries.
Globalization has necessitated change in the general management models applicable in organizations (Betamen & Snell 2009). Most strategic decisions have to be made with reference to issues occasioned by globalization. For example, in considering competition, marketing managers have to scan beyond the local market or environment thus establishing an international competitive advantage. Unless strategy is designed with global competition in mind, a company risks loosing its clients to some other company on the far opposite end of the globe.
Globalization has also occasioned change in values and cultures of a people. Management has to be responsive to culture. Unless management espouses a people’s values, conflicts between company and environment are likely to cause problems for the company. With globalization, paradigm shifts in management were occasioned. There is now a tendency towards adoption of certain philosophies that have a global appeal. Such philosophies as Kaizen, 5S, just in time production, lean manufacturing, and green productivity (among others) inform management decisions.
The idea that the understanding and application of management principles and procedures is shifting to take on a global face is evidenced in the fact that leadership and management gurus have become popular around the globe. The last few decades have seen high rise in management and leadership gurus or consultants that posit leadership or management paradigms that are universal or global in their appeal.
Most SMEs around the globe are engaging management gurus or consultant due to the challenges they face adopting their corporate culture to changing management situations (Betamen & Snell 2009). The risk or being out competed by multinationals is also forcing many to outsource or engage management consultants. Companies have been forced to implement international focusing activities. This is very challenging as business bases have to be shifted somehow.
The challenges occasioned by globalization and its impact on management, it follows that more concerted effort is necessary to create and maintain a healthy organizational culture. A healthy organizational culture empowers employees. It is characterized by freedom, opportunities and other motivators. Whatsoever strategy employed by an organization’s management or leadership, concerted effort is required towards ensuring creativity and initiative amongst employees.
The two strategies I would suggest are continuous streamlining standard operating procedures or organizational system of operation and emphasis on leadership as opposed to management. Standardization is important. An organization whose operating procedures are well outlined motivates employees. However, standard operating procedures have to be streamlined as often as possible. Strategic planning is important however, in a globalizing economy, long term planning proves to be somehow tricky. Regular refreshing based on re-evaluation is very important.
Continuous streamlining in line with environmental scanning thus responding to environmental factors appropriately is very important. Environmental factors consist of internal and external ones. Often external factors are taken for granted when considering an organizational culture; this can not be the case in a globalizing economy are the external. Continuous streamlining, for example, would help an organization realize when strategic alliances would be the best strategic decision.
For continuous streamlining of standard operating procedures to be realized, leaders and management have to be keen on controls and measurements. By concerted efforts to regularly measure and pay attention to progress, stream lining that serves the organization is possible.
Two Strategies of Maintaining a Healthy Organizational Culture by Leadership and Management
The second strategy I suggested is focus on leadership rather than management. Leadership is informed by initiative and personal responsibility. A healthy organizational culture is necessarily characterized by freedoms that allow for creativity. Initiative is not possible without freedom. Management is often informed by role and position. One is a leader in the position and role to which he or she has been delegated. His or her initiate is often limited to the delegated powers. Leadership is more visionary and change oriented.
Focus on leadership rather than management like what has happened in W. L. Gore makes an organization competitive because each individual in organization takes full responsibility for the decisions he or she makes. This model is advantageous to the organization because work in itself will become a motivator to the workers as opposed to say money or other benefits. It is very gratifying to start something and nurture it to completion.
Team building and team work is an essential element or aspect of a healthy organizational culture. Team work is at the heart of general performance of an organization. Teams are only possible when proper leadership is achieved. By focusing on leadership as a personal attribute rather than position of power given through a management model, organizational managers and leaders are able to build great teams that guarantee success or a competitive advantage.
Developing leadership in an organization relies heavily on modeling, training in communication and group dynamics (Betamen & Snell 2009). Proper leadership is when one learns how to influence without struggling to dominate or control. When all in the organization have been developed into leaders, managing of different projects becomes an easy task. It is said that leaders are individuals who understand how to be led. They basically know how they would react or respond to given approaches were they to be the led. Proper leadership juxtaposed with mere scientific management is more empathetic and nurturing.
Bateman, T. & Snell, S. (2008). Management: Leading and Collaborating in the Competitive World. USA: Mc Graw Hill.
WL Gore & Associates. (2009). About Gore. Web.