Transformational Leadership in Welcome Aboard Case

Problem Identification

In this case study, Cheryl Hailstrom, who is not from the Swensen family, is appointed the CEO of Lakeland Wonders. Cheryl Hailstrom was promoted to this position by the previous CEO, Wally Swensen IV. Lakeland Wonders is a company that manufactures wooden toys of high quality, and Cheryl Hailstrom becomes the first person out of the Swensen family to hold the CEO position. Even though Cheryl Hailstrom takes over the CEO position, she is not new to this company as she has been working with one of its largest customers to develop many best-selling products (McNulty, 2002). She knew how to generate profits and had the energy to drive this company to the next level. For almost six months after taking over as the company’s CEO, her vision to lift the company is not taking shape. She plans to reach the board’s growth goals and launch more products in the midmarket to have contracts with new customers. However, her senior managers don’t seem to support her in this course as they fear that offshore outsourcing will destroy their brand reputation, thus leading them too complicated negotiations.

Central Facts

There are two main central facts of this case study. The first one is that Cheryl uses the wrong leadership approach to push too many changes in this organization quickly. She should take time to learn her team and make changes one at a time. If she works with the current team, she should keep trying and motivating the team towards the set goals. Her leadership skills are questionable, and her relationship with the team cannot bear any good fruits. Another central fact of this case study is that Cheryl Hailstrom leads the team without emotional intelligence. The leading cause of the problems is the failure to share her vision with the rest of the team. She disregarded the company’s culture and ways of approaching challenges.


The primary stakeholder in this case study is Cheryl Hailstrom herself. She might be right in pushing for several changes in the organization and the need to cope with the developments in the market. However, her approach is wrong. Many employees feel as if the new CEO is making many changes and wants them to comply with these changes as fast as possible (McNulty, 2002). Instead of training the team and directing them to achieve the goals, she intends to hire other people likely to support her plans. Directors such as Mark and Barry are also the stakeholders in this case study; they seem to know the company better than the CEO. Finally, another stakeholder in this case study is Wally Swensen, a member of the board. They evaluate the progress of the new CEO and the leadership strategy that he employs to make the changes in the organization.


This case is applicable in modern-day organizations. The issue of transformational leadership is common in our organizations. Today, many companies have no clear strategy and processes to lead the companies (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Many in the management positions cannot align their driving styles with the organizations’ cultures. Companies have leaders who can never trust their employees with their visions and correctly list their priorities. A leader should monitor all the plans and activities meant to insert changes in an organization in business.

Topic Analysis and Integration

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a leadership style aimed at implementing new ideas through a more flexible approach and positively influencing the followers. Usually, various leaders have different leadership styles, and they employ authority and power to influence the multiple decisions of the followers. In transformational leadership, the idea is to bring the team together by exercising power to understand the leader’s visions (Bass & Riggio, 2006). This type of leadership calls for leaders and teams to work together and motivate one another toward achieving an organization’s vision. A transformational leader is, therefore, someone who is enthusiastic, passionate, and energetic.

Transformational leaders are involved in any processes aimed at helping each other grow and improve in levels. Transformational leaders enhance morale, motivation, and the performance of their followers (Bass & Riggio, 2006). In addition, they understand their abilities and focus and stand firm on their leadership beliefs. They have confidence in themselves, which motivates them towards achieving their goals, helping them connect to the organization. They are determined to achieve, and they greatly influence their team members, which encourages them to propel the organization on the right course. A transformational leader has loyalty and respect; he inspires the team members by sharing the visions, thus letting them know they are essential (Rubin et al.,2005). A transformational leader respects people’s decisions and appreciates every little effort that one puts into the organization. These leaders achieve a lot through encouraging and praising statements.

Transformational leaders understand those around them, especially the team they lead. They are willing to help their team members in whichever situation and prefer to carry their burdens. To do this, a transformational leader must have proper communication skills. They must relay their vision to the team using the proper communication. Finally, a transformational leader is brave and doesn’t fear failure (Rubin et al.,2005). They make changes in an organization without interfering with the organization’s core business. They fully understand the organizational structure and know the limits to exercising their visions and powers. In summary, transformational leadership combines the right employee and the right motives. It inspires employees towards achieving the set goals that ensure accurate results are delivered to the organization through consistent desired changes.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to manage your own emotions positively. It is an essential aspect of leadership, also referred to as the emotional quotient, the power of an individual to identify their own emotions (Chrusciel, 2006). Some people are born gifted with some level of emotional intelligence, while others learn and adapt the techniques through constant training. People with, a high level of emotional intelligence understand their feelings and can manage them well. They are fully aware of how their emotions can affect others. Emotional intelligence is something that is not only for leaders but also for individuals who tend to impact people’s lives. In leadership, emotional intelligence is a critical aspect of success (Kerr et al., 2006). Good leaders are participative, team-oriented, charismatic, and humane-oriented. Looking at these three characteristics, it is true that emotional intelligence is a key to becoming an effective business leader.

In business leadership, Emotional Intelligence dramatically influences the productivity of a leader. It increases team collaboration and helps to raise operational efficiency. An effective leader who always listens and pays attention to details defines expectations and expects results. The most common problem in organizations today is that most team members don’t know what they expect. A good leader clearly defines results based on expectations for their employees (Mayer et al., 2016). He is sincere in every action involving employees; a leader should let employees know when he is joking and serious. If a leader is not honest with his team members, the team will sense a lack of sincerity, limiting the success of the leadership.

Integration of Topics

Transformational leadership and emotional intelligence are two related topics, and you can never talk about good leadership strategies without mentioning emotional intelligence. A good leader should employ emotional intelligence in self-awareness, conflict resolution, and effective communication. Leadership uses emotional intelligence to avoid far-reaching consequences that result in lower employee engagement and a higher turnover rate (Kerr et al., 2006). Research has it that emotional intelligence is a crucial leadership skill, and influential leaders must be watchful of their relationships positively. While the company’s production is high, a leader must constantly communicate with the team or collaborate with others. Having a high emotional intelligence places the leaders in the employees’ shoes, thus leading to more thoughtful and deliberate decisions (Ferris et al., 2007). Human emotions are constantly in flux; therefore, adaptability is essential to becoming a great leader. Finally, employing emotional intelligence in transformational leadership reduces employee stress and motivates them to meet organizational goals. Therefore, emotional intelligence and transformational leadership positively impact the success of a business.

Case Analysis and Recommendations

Case Examples

In this case study, Cheryl Hailstorm has been recently anointed as the CEO of Lakeland Wonders and is employing various leadership styles to change and expand the market for this organization. However, the CEO is pushing too many changes quickly. Cheryl is correct in suggesting that she needs to change the company to cope with the business environment. However, she has adopted the wrong leadership approach. Cheryl’s leadership approach is not effective in this case, and most employees now see her as an outsider trying to dictate new terms to people who have worked for years in the same organization. She intends to hire other people from outside to help achieve her course ad support her plans (McNulty, 2002). Cheryl is confident about this new position; her leadership approach is questionable and does not seem to deliver any good to the organization. Her intentions of being a step ahead of the competitors in the market are good, but she needs support from the managers and team members. She has to accept that she is moving too quickly to deploy the changes she is making. As a leader, Cheryl is conducting proper planning and trying to think ahead of the competitors. However, she is not winning the hearts of the team members with her vision.

In Retrospect

Cheryl Hailstrom has to overcome these challenges by employing transformational leadership skills in her management. She has to improve her communication skills and share her visions with the rest of the organization (Sanchez, 2018). In addition, some team members have been there longer than her to understand the organization better and help her take the company to the next level. Her actions are not taken lightly by the employees; she could have persuaded them, inspired, and allowed them to table their views of her actions. Cheryl should have some people monitor the projects intended to change the organization’s plans and only preside over these changes to achieve the overall goals of Lakeland Wonders.


My advice to Cheryl is to take some time to reflect on her performance over the last six months. Cheryl has done a lot trying to effect changes in the company; she has improved her productivity and has moved to a new office. However, her leadership style is not aligned with the company’s culture. Cheryl has to trust her employees, specifically directors such as Mark and Barry. She has to listen to them and consider their arguments genuinely as they know the company better than her; also, the board of directors and the trade union both need to know her vision. Cheryl has also to identify her priorities in order of importance. Cheryl has to change her leadership style to use a more cultivating and effective leadership style that will run smoothly and without pressure from employees and the management. (Sanchez, 2018). Cheryl bringing in other people from outside to help her make these changes faster was a wrong decision. As much as they may help her achieve her plans, she should trust her current team and motivate them first before going for an outsider. It is not wrong to bring in outsiders who have more experience, such as Cecil and Pat, however, as a leader, you should train your team to try and achieve your vision (Schaffer, 2017). Cheryl has to listen to other team members and take feedback from them about her mistakes, and she has to be open to people about her intentions and visions for this organization. If she continues to lead the team with the same spirit, she will lose the confidence bestowed on her by the company stakeholders. Cheryl has to mend the broken relationship between her and Mark so that they can work tother. She has to convince mark by sharing her vision with him. If both can come together, they can develop a plan that solves the current problems, leading to her success.


If Cheryl were to follow this advice, the outcome would be positive for the organization. There would be a smooth transition of changes in the organization and a great motivation for the employees. By doing so, Cheryl would be proud of her success as a leader and her excellent leadership skills in implementing various changes in this organization.


Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership.

Chrusciel, D. (2006). Considerations of emotional intelligence (EI) in dealing with change decision management. Management decision.

Ferris, G. R., Treadway, D. C., Perrewé, P. L., Brouer, R. L., Douglas, C., & Lux, S. (2007). Political skill in organizations. Journal of Management, 33(3), 290-320.

Kerr, R., Garvin, J., Heaton, N., & Boyle, E. (2006). Emotional intelligence and leadership effectiveness. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.

Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The ability model of emotional intelligence: Principles and updates. Emotion Review, 8(4), 290-300.

McNulty, E. (2002). Welcome aboard (but don’t change a thing). Harvard Business Review, 80(10), 32-5.

Rubin, R. S., Munz, D. C., & Bommer, W. H. (2005). Leading from within: The effects of emotion recognition and personality on transformational leadership behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 48(5), 845-858.

Sanchez, P. (2018). The secret to leading organizational change is empathy. Harvard Business Review.

Schaffer, R. H. (2017). All management is change management. Harvard Business Review, 26, 2017.

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