Leadership Style : Sam Palmisano, Former Ibm Ceo

Topics: IBM, Computer, Samuel J. Palmisano Pages: 9 (2924 words) Published: March 23, 2012
1.0 About Sam Palmisano

He began his career with IBM in 1973 as a salesman in Baltimore Maryland, Since then, Palmisano has held a series of leadership positions during his IBM career, including senior vice president for the Enterprise Systems and Personal Systems groups. Mr. Palmisano also played a key role in creating and leading IBM’s Global Services, rising to senior vice president, and building the largest and most diversified information technology services organization in the industry. He also served as senior managing director of operations for IBM Japan. He became president and Chief Operating Officer (CEO) in 2000. Sam Palmisano is a graduate of The Johns Hopkins University. In recognition of his leadership role as co-chair of the Council on Competitiveness’ National Innovation Initiative, as well as his many business accomplishments, Palmisano was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2005. In 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the London Business School.  He has received a number of business awards including the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Business Leadership Award in 2009 and the inaugural Deming Cup, presented in 2010 by the W. Edwards Deming Centre for Quality, Productivity and Competitiveness at Columbia Business School.  He is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

2.0 IBM company background

As late as 1960 IBM was still primarily a punched-card machine supplier. It was not until 1962 that computer sales equaled those of its traditional punched-card products. But by the end of the decade, its punched-card machine sales were essentially vestigial. While IBM was making this transformation in its product line in the 1960s, it was also growing at the rapid rate of 15 to 20 percent a year and soon achieved a domination of the computer market that was historically unparalleled in any other major industry. IBM's success was creating a difficult environment for its competitors. By 1960 the mainframe computer industry had already been whittled down to just IBM and seven others. Of all the mainframe suppliers, Sperry Rand had suffered the biggest reverse, consolidating a decline that had begun well before the launch of the 1401. Despite being the pioneer of the industry, it had never made a profit in computers and was gaining a reputation bordering on derision.  For many years IBM's domination of the computer industry was attributed to a variety of factors like managerial competence, technological excellence, formidable marketing organization, monopolistic, antitrust business practices and the leadership exerted by the Watsons.   A key difference between IBM and its competitors persisted right into the computer age. Thus, when company used equipment from one of IBM's office machine competitors, it was all too likely to acquire a problem rather than a solution. Often the computer and its software were no more than a set of tools with which to fashion a solution, instead of the solution itself. Only IBM guaranteed a complete solution to business problems, and an IBM salesman was all too likely to remind a data processing manager that no one ever got fired by hiring from IBM. This was a patronizing attitude that came close to condescension, and often resulted in a love-hate relationship between IBM and its customers.

3.0 What was Sam Palmisano trying to achieve with his style of leading?

While there are many factors that drive a leader’s success, style plays a key role in effectiveness. No matter what style a leader embodies, they all provide value to the organization. From the case studies, we found that there are several factors that have made IBM’s grown successfully year by year under Palmisano style of leading.

1-Major player in the Industry.

Palmisano is leading IBM back to greatness. He chose to shift IBM from being a company that produced commodities to one...
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