An Analysis of Kevin Rollins and his Leadership Style
MBA 517 –T
This paper will discuss some elements on what makes an effective leader and how their leadership style can transform a company. This paper will specifically discuss the leadership style of Kevin Rollins, who was the chief executive officer of the computer giant, Dell from 2004-2007 (BBC 2007). In 2004, Mr. Rollins took over the CEO position from the company’s founder, Michael Dell. This transition allowed Mr. Rollins to take over the day-to-day business operations, take on new responsibilities, and develop the opportunity to grow as a leader. Mr. Rollins utilizes transformational leadership and focuses on his own continuous improvement, direct communication with his subordinates, and taking responsibility for his actions as CEO.
Elements of Leadership
From the case, we analyzed Kevin Rollins Leadership style and gathered that he has five distinct elements. First, he is a formal leader. As CEO, he is given the authority to allocate the company’s resources the way he feels will make the company more productive and profitable. He was given this power when he succeeded Michael Dell as CEO. Another element to his leadership is his need for continuous improvement. After the huge decline in revenue Dell decided to sell its products in Wal-Mart stores in order to reach lower income consumers as well as continuing to sell directly from their website, however, Rollins saw that in the long run this could actually cause the company to lose money because Dell only provided their products in certain retail stores. This demonstrates how he jumped right in to tackle the company’s biggest problem: not meeting their projected revenue, and how he comes up with ways to improve their current situation. Mr. Rollins has said, “Maybe I can’t be a George Washington in terms of inspiration, but certainly I know I can always do better” (Rivlin 2006). This quotation shows that Mr. Rollins acknowledges the need for continuous improvement. Tying in continuous improvement, Mr. Rollins uses 360-degree reviews to obtain feedback on his leadership and managerial style.
Utilizing 360 reviews is another element of Mr. Rollins leadership style. A 360-degree review is a performance review that is evaluated by a variety of people who are in a position to evaluate the employee’s performance (George and Jones 2008). In the case of Kevin Rollins, he received feedback from his underlyings. He learned from these reviews that he is perceived as being arrogant and opinionated. I believe that these characteristics are what led him to take responsibility for the low revenues Dell experienced. He wanted to show that he was capable of being the leader in good and bad times. He also wanted to exemplify humility and show that he is not such a bad guy.
Another element to his leadership style is task orientation. Rollin’s is a task oriented leader because he pushes everyone, with no exception to stay on task, all the way from the assembly line workers to upper management and especially himself. The article shares with us that he works 70 to 80 hour workweeks in order to make sure that everything is being accomplished, he does not expect more out of his employees than the same expectations he sets for himself. Finally, Rollins’ leadership style takes advantage of initiating structure. As CEO, Mr. Rollins is always analyzing the day-to-day operations of all Dell employees and trying to create new ways and processes for them to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This can be seen by the fact the every employee is on the page regarding Dell’s initiatives. Mr. Bell, head of Dell’s European operations, calls this Mr. Rollins’ “tight messaging” (Rivlin 2006).
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