Nissan Motors in Dubai: Leadership and Management

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The positions of a leader and a manager are often conflated, which may lead to drastic outcomes. However, the two have comparatively few characteristics in common. Although a leader and a manager share several traits, the goals and functions that are typically attributed to either are very different from each other. As a rule, the distinction between a leader and a manager is usually marked as the difference in priorities, with the manager being ostensibly focused on the processes, whereas a leader is concerned with people. However, the distinction between a manager and a leader is much more profound than that. Since a leader is seen as the guiding power, their function is typically seen as that one of promoting change in people’s attitudes, whereas a manager is usually defined as a coordinator (Graham, 2016).

The roles that a leader may play in the organizational setting overlap with those of a manager quite often. For example, as a leader, one will need to ensure that team members are motivated, informed, instructed accordingly, and are willing to contribute to the organizational progress. Therefore, the roles of a leader are typically defined as those of a planner, communicator, people manager, risk manager, team builder, and performance coordinator (Graham, 2016). In addition to the specified roles, the ones of an inspirer, visionary, and innovator are often mentioned and seen as legitimate requirements for the job of a leader. Therefore, similarly to a manager, a leader often ha to perform coordinator actions, yet the need to define the course of further development and motivate participants to perform appear to be the key traits that characterize a leader rather than a manager.

Since a leader’s main job includes serving as an inspirer and the example that the rest of the team needs to follow in order to meet the set requirements and engage in productive professional development, a leader can be characterized through the lens of a moral dimension. Namely, as a leader, one has to be honest and keep the corporate integrity intact. In addition, inspiration and commitment that often leads to passion are considered to be the cornerstone characteristics of a leader (Graham, 2016). Likewise, the characteristics of a communicator and decision-maker are typically deemed as those ones of a leader. Finally, Marques and Dhiman (2017) consider that a leader should possess the qualities such as empathy, resilience, emotional intelligence, humility, transparency, and vision.

Another difference between a leader and a manager can be seen when considering an instance of a workplace issue associated with the improvement of quality. While a manager is likely to restrict the specified process to setting priorities and assigning each participant with a set of requirements, a leader is likely to use their own example as the means of inspiring participants alongside with the development of a talent management approach (Graham, 2016). The described situation portrays one of the main qualities of leaders, which concerns the ability of promoting change and improvement among staff members.

As established above, there is a significant difference between the roles of leaders and those of managers. The application of corresponding theories of leadership and management allows conforming the specified statement. Namely, the Contingency Theory implies that a leader can choose which qualities to project onto a team of staff members, thus defining their further professional growth. In turn, the perspective in question relegates a manager to the person at the helm of key processes within an organization and the attempt at connecting the said processes into a single web.

Since a manager needs to be more down-to-earth in their management of the human resources to which they have been assigned, the managerial approaches toward issues that may possibly be observed in the workplace seems rather scarce. The exploration of the context on a deeper level allows examining the notion of the concept as a whole by introducing the separate items as a part of a functioning system. However, the proposed tool does not allow addressing employees’ needs fully.

In turn, the people-oriented approach toward managing implies centering staff members and their needs, thus shaping the management of the relevant issues according to the needs of employees. The specified framework can be applied when developing a flexible schedule for staff members or managing cross-cultural interactions in the workplace (Altamony & Gharaibeh, 2017).

Overall, the people-oriented approach might seem as hindrance to the implementation of the corporate goals, yet it proves to have tremendous effects in the long term due to the increase in employees’ loyalty. However, the specified approach may lead to the disruption of some of the workplace processes since staff members’ needs are prioritized.

In turn, the process of addressing workplace issues from a leadership perspective suggests a change in communication and the status quo of workplace relationships. Namely, the inclusion of the Situational Leadership principles into the organizational setting will allow fro greater flexibility in decision-making. However, the situational approach often fails to work when constructing a strategy for meeting long-term goals. The Systems Leadership has been seen as a reasonable substitution for the Situational framework since it helps to connect key processes within a company (Farrukh, Kalimuthuan, & Farrukh, 2019). However, it may lead to the centralization of power within a firm, as the case of Nissan has shown.

The Contingency Theory offers a similar range of flexibility that the Situational Leadership provides. However, in addition to the specified range of flexibility, the Contingency Theory also encourages professional development in staff members, emphasizing the importance of professional improvement. However, as a framework to be adopted to the management of corporate processes, the Contingency Theory becomes very complicated and suggests that a leader should adopt a reactionary approach, which may harm the enhancement of leadership initiative (Altamony & Gharaibeh, 2017). Therefore, while in some cases, the Contingency approach could become viable, it needs to be applied together with the framework that encourages change.

To understand the concepts of leadership and management better, one should look at the situation observed at Nisan in its UAE location. Namely, the company has been facing several issues associated with the appropriate use of leadership and the implementation of key management-related tasks. According to the report issued by Reuters, Nissan Motors, UAE has had certain difficulties with the choice of approaches to leadership and management (“How the ‘cult of Ghosn’ may have led to Nissan leadership crisis,” 2018). Namely, the company had been clutching at its traditional approach toward managing operations and people within its setting, which could be seen as a reasonable step to take.

However, given the nature of the problems and the necessity to reallocate the resources that the company had at the time, it would have been much wider for Nissan to apply a different approach, namely, the Situational Leadership framework, which would have prepared the organization for the need to transition to a different mode of operations (Dugan, 2017).

At the very least, the Contingency Theory would have helped as the tool for assisting Nissan Motors in transferring to functioning in the economy where increased financial risks were common. However, in an attempt to preserve its legacy and keep its approach to leadership consistent, the company chose to follow the Systems Leadership framework, which has complicated the process of changing the company’s supply chain, updating its infrastructure, and the approach toward managing the key production process.

In addition, the focus on the Charismatic Leadership approach may have made the organization sway toward the adoption of the Authoritative Leadership approach. Specifically, its former UAE leader, Ghosn, created the system that thrived solely on the power of his decision-making and his ability to navigate the organization’s key issues. However, apart from creating a rather biased setting that did not allow for the consideration of alternative solutions and side opinions, the specified framework also led to Nissan UAE’s dependency on Ghosn and his perspective.

Thus, without Ghosn in chair, Nissan was facing the threat of falling apart since the rest of the company members were not privy to the strategies that Ghosn utilized and the reasoning that he used when choosing a corresponding tool (Blair, 2019). As a result, Nissan UAE has been suffering from the lack of flexibility up until recently, yet opening the company to a free selection of strategic management and leadership strategies may have caught its members rather unaware.

The continuation of the Systems Leadership approach as the main tool in addressing the corporate issues could have been considered the reasonable choice if the company had been placed in the same setting (Dugan, 2017). However, with the need to encompass a wider audience and expand, the use of the Situational Leadership strategy would have made much more sense.

However, after the strategy used by Nissan Motors’ leader led to the drop in the quality of relationships between the organization and its core partners, namely, its suppliers, the correct decision was adopted. Specifically, a new leader was appointed, making a pivotal change to the leadership and management processes within the firm. Specifically, the application of the Contingency theory approach, which allowed introducing change on the systems level, and the people-oriented managerial framework have led to a gradual rise in the company’s performance (Ikegami et al., 2017). As a result, Nissan Motors currently has a chance at regaining its position in the automotive industry and the global market, correspondingly.

The attempt at conflating the concepts of leadership and management, as well as the idea of juxtaposing them in fixed relationships, often leads to an organizational failure, as the case of Nissan Motors has shown. Instead, companies need to focus on developing the leadership and managerial strategies that show a more intricate and better-balanced relationship between leadership and management. Specifically, Nissan Motors has proven that the transfer to the Situational Leadership approach and the application of the Contingency Leadership strategy along with the people-oriented management framework will lead to significant improvements in the quality of performance and the coordination of workplace processes. Moreover, greater flexibility that the suggested strategies provide encourages innovativeness and employee engagement.


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  2. Dugan, J. P. (2017). Leadership theory: Cultivating critical perspectives. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Farrukh, M., Kalimuthuan, R., & Farrukh, S. (2019). Impact of job satisfaction and mutual trust on employee loyalty in Saudi hospitality industry: A mediating analysis of leader support. International Journal of Business and Psychology, 1(2), pp. 30-52.
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  7. Blair, G. (2019). Why has Nissan lost two leaders in quick succession?. Al Jazeera. Web.

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