The Blue Sky Software Consulting Firm
While being a complex phenomenon, leadership affects different aspects of organizational performance and functioning. At Blue Sky Software Company, Max Blue, founder and CEO, was changed by Jim Willis, former VP for the HR software division. This leadership change caused management changes and revealed difficulties in several areas. In particular, it caused changes in leadership style, employee motivation, decision making, and openness to change. The latter two aspects affected strategic planning and organizational structure and control. This paper strives to present the major managerial issues at Blue Sky in more detail and suggest approaches and principles to improve organizational design.
Change in Leadership Style at Blue Sky
The first major issue at Blue Sky is the change of leadership style from autocratic to participative one. Max Blue was an autocrat saying that as the company is his, he knows best how to run it. Indeed, autocrats view decision making, planning, organizing, and controlling as only a leader’s function. Therefore, Blue personally led the development of the three main software programs. In addition, autocratic leaders focus on tasks rather than people. Hence, employee involvement was minimal at Blue Sky. Autocratic leaders also use formal downward communication and usually, operate within formal centralized structures with tight control. However, at Blue Sky regional leaders also had relative autonomy (as will be discussed further). Herewith, there are few if any conflicts within autocratic leadership as they are often suppressed or resolved in the leader’s favor (Warrick, 1981). Indeed, there were few conflicts at Blue Sky. In contrast, Willis is more collaborative and democratic. Generally, participative leaders focus on both performance and people. They view employees as trustworthy, hardworking, and striving to accomplish challenging tasks and achieve meaningful goals. They involve other people in managerial process while encouraging them to feel part of a company. Herewith, while focusing on people and performance, participative leadership assumes open confrontation of conflicts and emphasis on problems and solutions rather than finding guilty (Warrick, 1981).
Change in Motivation Approach
As these leadership styles are contrary, leaders’ views of employee motivation are also different and caused change in Blue Sky motivation system. Autocratic leaders believe that people work for money and other motives than economic incentives are unimportant. Moreover, autocrats believe that followers prefer to be led (Warrick, 1981). Blue focused on financial motivation and as a result, currently most executives and employees and financially well off. Participative leaders motivate employees through involvement and self-realization. Such leaders encourage followers to use their full potential. Motivation assumes challenging tasks offering opportunities for achievement, growth, recognition, responsibility, and advancement. Moreover, participative leaders assume that people are self-motivated (Warrick, 1981).
They also foster employees’ intrinsic motivation by linking their identities to organizational identity (Jung, Chow, and Wu, 2010). As a participative leader, Willis strives to involve employees and encourage their responsibility and innovativeness as vital aspects of their self-realization. Nevertheless, such change in motivation approach cannot be considered appropriate with regard to all employees. For example, while being used to …