IBM Culture and Principles of Good Leadership

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Individuals coming into the IBM from any other place should be aware of the availability of a type of hothouse quality within the company. This was like a secluded tropical environment, which had been set aside from the rest of the globe for a long period. In addition, IBM had generated some reasonably foreign life-forms, which were to be identified at some other place. Moreover, it had bewildered its strength since it was so extremely ingrown, hereditary and so much taken up by its norms and arguments or conflict. Therefore, this made it tremendously susceptible to assail from the outside. Some of the factors that made it vulnerable to its competitors were as follows; disinterest in the needs of its customers and internal politics preoccupation (Gerstner, 2002, p. 189).

Previously, from the year 1960s and 1970s, the self-absorption of the company (IBM) was very effective. This was because customers had no information or skills on the importance of data processing, therefore, IBM established the mysterious and powerful machinery. Progressively, individuals or business people started to comprehend the significance of information technology and the way it was associated with all things they intended to perform. Anyone who was promoted in this organization at that time made sure that there was a press release and the manager or boss needed to call for a conference to report the good news with the promoted individual sitting next to or behind the manager/boss. On the contrary, an organization fighting for survival need not publish its internal status of leadership as IBM did but rather focuses more on the marketplace and its customers. Due to IBM Company putting more interest into the internal status of leadership, the press release media group decided to ban the organization’s press releases (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 191-192).

IBM culture

The most remarkable culture of IBM was the fact that anybody, division, and the team could hinder actions or agreement. For instance, when members of IBM differed with some colleagues taking up some position, they could announce that they did not agree with the idea. At any organizational level, after the team had developed solutions for the company and the executive thought that the solution lessened his or her company’s position, a non-concord spanner was put into the works rather than announcing. Therefore, the form of approach IBM Company used to declare their stand was not appropriate and after some time, their culture was described as a ‘no’ culture since nobody would say yes but all could say no. In addition, senior executives in IBM frequently controlled every activity with the organization. For example, an individual or employee of IBM requested to be given comprehensive scrutiny of one of the main money-losing agencies at IBM. Later the same person wanted to know how the company was fairing on but the senior executive responded by saying that he would contact the company’s team and give the feedback later which he did not do even after several days of being reminded. In addition, the senior executive was not ready to give the name of the person in charge of the work within the company. This is a clear indication that the senior executive arranged for the activities and reviewed them after they had been completed. Excellent executives should always look into details, make an applicable decisions, solve problems daily and be a good example as he or she leads others rather than concentrating much on the titles (Gerstner, 2002, pp.194-199).

Principles of good leadership

There is a need for every organization to be managed and led by principles if its main objective is to perform well. Therefore, decisions should be developed by individuals who comprehend the measures that lead to success in an organization and then implement the principles to a certain circumstance with applicable knowledge, skill, and mind on the significance of the current surrounding. For IBM to perform well they needed to change their culture and apply the following principles within their company; instead of being much taken up with their notions of the type of business they needed to operate, they also needed to know that the marketplace was the determinant of the company’s success. This is because the company’s success results from the customer’s achievement. Secondly, arguments about what type of company was IBM needed not to be an issue but rather their main objective could have been to render quality services and be committed to their work. Moreover, the company should look beyond the company to satisfy its customers. An excellent entrepreneurial agency accepts improvement, attempts practical risks, and pursues growth and development by enlarging old businesses and looking for modern ones. To succeed, a company should have a mission and objectives that give it direction. In addition, the company ought to think and respond quickly to grow fast. The best method that companies like IBM can end the issues to do with turf wars and bureaucracy is by making everybody aware that the company appreciates and rewards teamwork especially if they are interested in giving quality services to the customers. Finally, the company needs to be sensitive to the community and more importantly its employees (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 200-204).

IBM allowed its members to apply the above-mentioned principles to develop their leadership competencies. Therefore, to assess the company’s executive, competencies became the main foundation. Thus, this was the strategy that was later used in IBM to promote individuals, and hence, most of the employees including executives went back to school. Some of the features of a competent leader included the ability to focus to win customer integrity, perform to achieve, and creative thinking. Secondly, decisiveness, teamwork, team leadership, and straight talk were observed for a person to mobilize others and execute his responsibilities effectively. In addition, some other requirements for a competent person included; maintaining momentum, personal commitment, training, and capability to build the organization. Although the principles were implemented, the IBM Company did not perform as expected and this led to other simplified principles. These were to win, execute, and team. Characteristics of a successful business and successful executive are as the following. They are focused on their objectives, they are excellent at implementation and they flourish due to competency in personal leadership (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 208-210).

Most of the senior executives do not engage in tough battles of strengthening, resurrecting, and resuscitating the foundation of the company, or they lose hope in the foundation of the company too soon. For instance, IBM Company diverted from its main objectives of constructing powerful, large-scale computers and instead brought in other machinery like telephone switching company. In addition, in the year the 1980s when the travel business and charge card were hit, the boss of American Express attempted to engage in the Television cables, book publishing, and entertainment businesses. This is what occurs to most businesses or companies when they shift from their central competencies. Its competitors get happy and gather more cash due to the failure of the former company or business and eventually the former business collapse (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 214-216).

Any organization has its competitive benefits set in its foundation business. It might be difficult to re-energize or re-direct an already existing business. History exhibits that most successful and great organizations experience continuous and at times hard self-renewal of the business foundation. They do not get into new business automatically where they have information of the risks and benefits that are anticipated. This is like a communicable illness, which many executives suffer from. In case they are offered a choice of performing hard to work on a business base or rather to finish a glamorous achievement and bragging on its pledge of the TV station’s finances, they will choose the latter (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 220-222).

Strategy implementation/execution

Similarly, it is easier to appreciate the skills of developing a strategy but executing it is rarely appreciated though it is the most important section of a successful strategy. Strategy implementation involves changing the strategy into activity programs and evaluating their outcomes. Appropriate execution of strategy requires one to form assessable targets and holding individuals responsible for them. Excellent implementation involves commitment and values. It is not just doing the correct thing but rather doing the correct thing better, more productively, faster, and more often (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 229-234).

For there to be excellent execution, there must be effective personal leadership. Personal leadership involves, communication, openness, honesty, readiness to speak, visibility such as CEOs solving the company’s problem by themselves. In addition, it involves one being operational and strategic. For one to run IBM, the following is required; energy, organizational leadership, personal qualities (like self-confidence, visible passion, smart, customer-based), and market leadership (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 237-240).


An excellent organization will always ensure that during decision-making, decentralization is utilized to serve the customer in a better and faster way. On the other hand, centralization is bad since it leads to the top slow process of decision making. Similarly, decentralized organizations possess their financial analysis team, data processing center, and human resources group among others. The Decision-making process becomes faster when decisions to be made concerns one decentralized unit. However, if several units of the business have to be catered for, the greatly decentralized form resulted in insufficient customer response and turf battle due to incompatible settings of the business (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 242-243).

In the recent greatly competitive, drastically changing globe, there are very few businesses or organizations that can conduct a strategy by use of total decentralization. This is because it is too slow and too expensive especially when important alterations need to be made within the organization. Therefore, managers and CEOs are supposed to identify what needs to be decentralized and what needs to be centralized. There is a high risk in requesting a decentralized business unit to be perfect in its convectional mission as it attempts to achieve a common responsibility in forming core values in a modern mission. The disagreements associated with the allocation of resources, distribution, pricing, and branding will be devastating. In addition, in big organizations, individuals or members tend to behave in competitive and unsupportive ways towards other organizations that compete with them. For the IBM Company to be an integrated company, they ought to plan their resources near the customers rather than geographies or commodities (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 250-252).

Therefore, IBM needed to make alterations on who managed the budgets and who permitted the workers to go for an off, who affirmed workers’ salary rise and benefits or bonuses, and who came up with the concluding decisions on investments and pricing (Gerstner, 2002, p. 257).

Business world

Corporations become successful when they work in a vibrant and healthy society. They must have the communities around them since these are where their workers and customers reside though they require successful planning, advertising, and research. Corporations, as distinctive agencies in our community, carry out certain activities better than in any other sector within the society. Most significant, these corporations know how to organize, control resources, commune to constituencies and carry out other effective actions, which are also needed by almost all nonprofit-making organizations. Knowledge and skills in the corporations’ areas are very significant to benevolent organizations, though such competencies are hardly found inadequate amount to permit the emergence of doing well, self-renewing agencies (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 270-274).


In conclusion, many companies, small or large, should identify chances or opportunities where they can bring in a difference by infusing their particular talents and resources apart from giving out only money to their communities. In addition, they need to approach the roles or responsibilities as if they are business opportunities by knowing the required programs and resources, and measures that can be used to have to work completed faster and well (Gerstner, 2002, pp. 277).

Reference list

Gerstner, L. (2002). Who says elephant can’t dance. New York: Harper Business.

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