Leadership Case Study

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Leadership Case Study

Introduction
The leader chose in this case study is Mr. Samuel Moore Walton (March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992). He was an American businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma in USA and the founder of American retailers Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.[1] Sam Walton began his retail career when he started work at a J.C. Penney store in Des Moines, Iowa in 1940. In 1945, he met Butler Brothers, a regional retailer that owned Ben Franklin chain stores and that offered him one in Newport, Arkansas. That store was running very successful by Walton and far exceeding expectations. Walton continued his retail business that he loved by overcoming many ups and downs. He opened the first Wal-Mart Discount City Store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas.[2] In 2003, the company operates more than 4,000 stores worldwide. In 1999, with 1,140,000 associates, Wal-Mart became the largest private employer in the world.[3b] What made Sam Walton a successful business leader in the retailer industries? Walton’s will to turn setbacks into opportunities[3a] is one of the following keys leading to the buliding of his venture. In 1950, when the lease came up for renewal for his first shop in Newport, Ark., his landlord refused to renew it. Walton had nowhere else to move the store but he sold it. It was the low point of Walton’s business life. But he did not blame on his misfortune. He moved his family to Bentonville, Arkansas and bought a new store, named as "Walton's Five and Dime" with a long-term lease. He picked himself up and did it all over again. There he achieved higher sales volume by marking up slightly less than most competitors.[2] This new store was then the start of what became the biggest retailer in the world – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Keep trying to improve [3b]– in Wal-Mart’early stage, Walton kept finding ways to improve and expand it more efficiently, he began reading about computers and hired some other staff in this field. The early adoption on technology turned out to be one cue to Wal-Mart’s great expansion. This also led him to create Wal-Mart Supercenters, which have both groceries and general merchandise, and Sam’s Club warehouse stores. Happy employees mean happy customers [3c]- Walton understood the fact that if management treats associates well, the associates would treat the customers well, too, hence the customers will always come back, and that made the continuous profit. Walton let workers buy stock at a discount and started a profit-sharing programme although the employees are paid lower wages than the industry average. He also shared responsibility and information. Even general clerk knew their store’s sales, profits, purchases, and markdowns. He often visited frontline staff at stores and asked them for their suggestions, as they daily talked to customers and knew what they need. Learn from the competition [3d] - Walton regularly visited the competitor’s store. He tried to get the idea on how they did business when he began discounting. He told managers not to concern with what the competitors are doing wrong but what they’re doing right. Do things your own way [3e]- Don’t follow the competitors blindly; Walton ignored the conventional sense and find the niche by going in the opposite directions – big retailers usually ignored those towns with small populations (under 50,000). That let Wal-Mart grow for years without competition from any giant national discounters, like Target and Kmart. Be your own worst critic [3f] One of the reasons the company survived in its early days is that he and the store managers constantly critique themselves. Admitted to mistakes and tried to figure out how to correct it, and then moved on to the next day’s work. Lighten up [3g]- Walton believed having fun sometimes also kept workers, customers, and shareholders happy and shows enthusiasm. Sometimes, he would have surprise visitors or singer in Saturday morning meetings to keep managers’ interest, and business...
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