Case Study: Fletcher Jones and Continental Airlines Managerial Leadership

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CASE STUDY:
FLETCHER JONES AND CONTINENTAL AIRLINES
MANAGERIAL LEADERSHIP

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION 3
SYNOPSIS 3
THEORY OF THE BUSINESS 4
COMPETING VALUES FRAMEWORK 5
4 + 2 FORMULA 7
THE FIVE PRACTICES OF EXEMPLARY LEADERSHIP 10
CONCLUSION 12
REFERENCES 14
APPENDIXES 15
Appendix 1 – Theory of the Business 15
Appendix 2 – Competing Values Framework 16
Appendix 3 - 4 + 2 Model 17
Appendix 4 – 4 + 2 Model 17
Appendix 5 – Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership Model 18

INTRODUCTION

This case study will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the managerial leadership of Fletcher Jones and Continental Airlines. In turn, four key managerial theories will be used, Drucker (1994) The Theory of the Business, Quinn et al (2011) Competing Values Framework, Nohria et al (2003) 4 + 2 Formula, and Kouzes and Posner (2007) The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership to compare and contrast the two companies, to identify any similarities and differences which may exist between the two styles of managerial leadership and if any patterns for success exist.

SYNOPSIS

FLETCHER JONES

A Fabric of a Dream – the Fletcher Jones Story (2007) is the story of how a stammering, shell-shocked World War One Veteran, who’d left school at 12, took to the road as a hawker and ended up creating a national icon. A story of a visionary man, one who was creative and adaptive in the way he managed his business. It is also the story of his vision to create a cooperative, Fletcher Jones and Staff, based on his inspiration from Kagawa a Japanese Christian Pacifist a labor activist. Managers and workers were equal – this was the culture Fletcher Jones was trying to create. He created a family. At one point the staff owned 71% of the business. Fletcher Jones died in 1977 around the same time a number of changes were taking place. The company had thrived in the economic environment of protectionism for over 70 years but then had to fight for survival due to the removal of trade barriers. New technologies were implemented but not enough to compete with imports. Fletcher Jones and Staff were determined to keep factories open but because of the overseas competition they became less efficient and the “lolly parade was over” (The Fabric of a Dream – The Fletcher Jones Story, 2007).

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES

In 1993, when Greg Brenneman started working at Continental Airlines, it was the most dysfunctional company he had ever seen. It had been through two bankruptcies and ten presidents in ten years. There was next to no strategy. The company was burning through money and employee morale couldn't get any worse. The airline was ranked tenth out of the ten largest US airlines in all key customer service areas. However, Brenneman managed to turn this around into a top ranking profitable growing business. Brenneman, and his new team at Continental's helm transformed the company "right away and all at once" Brenneman (1998 pg. 164). With Gordon Bethune, Continental's chairman and CEO, Brenneman devised the Go Forward Plan, a straightforward strategy focused on four key elements: understanding the market, increasing revenues, improving the product, and transforming the corporate culture. The tough part was getting it done. "Do it now!" Brenneman (1998 pg. 179) became the rallying cry of the movement, and the power of momentum carried Continental to success.

THEORY OF THE BUSINESS

Peter Drucker (1994 pg. 96) stated that every organization, whether a business or not, has a theory of the business and that a valid theory, that is clear, consistent, and focused is extraordinarily powerful. Referring to Drucker’s (1994) theory and the assumptions and specifications behind it (Appendix 1) we will compare and contrast it to the managerial leadership of Fletcher Jones and Continental Airlines.

Both Fletcher Jones, in its early days,...
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