Leading Teams

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Module 1 – Leading Teams

Assignment

April 2010

Word Count: 2653

The following report presents an analysis of Shell Oil, and the ways in which it incorporates team leadership concepts in balancing stakeholder needs. Stakeholders are defined in The Times 100 case study Balancing Stakeholder Needs as “anyone who has an interest in what a business does or an influence on the business”. The case study continues on to identify Shell’s stakeholders as shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers, local communities, and interest groups. It is vitally important for large corporations such as Shell to balance the needs of these parties, in order to ensure profitable, safe and continuous operations. In order to do so, Shell must consider what the needs of each of these groups are, and how to use leadership to control the effects of conflicting needs. a) Making reference to appropriate theory what aspects of leadership and team dynamics may Shell have considered when considering their approach to balancing Stakeholder needs? The leadership tactics employed by Shell in balancing stakeholder needs will be varied, but will no doubt include an assessment of its vision and principles, the corporate leadership style, and how to construct its teams to maximise performance. The statement “Begin with the end in mind” (Covey 2004 cited Benson and Rice 2009a, p.3), gives a fair indication as to the purpose and necessity of a corporate vision. Where is the business going, and how is it going to get there? An essential element to leadership, a vision defines the goal that everyone in the company should be working towards. Kotter (1990, p.105) suggests that a key part of vision is “how well it serves the interests of important constituencies”. In other words, Shell should display balanced stakeholders needs in the company vision. According to Nanus (1992 cited Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 1993), a vision should also display the following characteristics, which Shell would likely have taken into account for each group of stakeholders: * Attracts commitment and energises people

* Creates meaning in workers lives
* Establishes a standard of excellence
* Bridges the present to the future
* Transcends the status quo.
Shell publishes its vision, along with its core values and other operating principles in the Shell General Business Principles, which is widely communicated, and available for download from the company’s website. Shell has clearly recognised for quite some time the value and necessity for a vision in balancing needs, as the first set of principles was originally published in 1976 (Royal Dutch Shell plc 2005). It is important to separate leadership from management. Kotter (1990, p.104) states that “Management is about coping with complexity”, and that “Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change.” And what is a vision, if not an anticipated change to the company? The management of change is a key role of leadership. The recent corporate restructuring and appointment of a new CEO in July 2009 (Wighton 2010), shows that Shell’s leaders are required to consistently react to changes such as market conditions, and adjust its focus to ensure all stakeholder needs are still being met. The study of leadership in general has led to many differing leadership theories, which can essentially be divided into two categories; Behaviour Models, and Situational Leadership. Behaviour Models tend to address the personal traits of the individual leader, and Situational Leadership addresses a customisation of style to each new situation. While it is possible to apply some Behaviour Model theories to an organisation, it is more likely that Shell apply Situational Leadership methods, altering the balance of task vs. relationship dependent on which stakeholder group is being considered. Shell will also have spent considerable time finding the most...
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