Nervewire: a Case Study of Leadership

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NerveWire: A Case Study of Leadership

Grand Canyon University

Professor Stephen Young
April 22, 2010
This paper is a review of the leadership of NerveWire, a professional services firm that was established in 1999. NerveWire’s Malcolm Frank, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Kirk Arnold, Chief Operating Officer (COO) are the key leaders in this company. Their leadership skills, attributes, personalities, and leadership styles are reviewed and compared to leadership theories; their effectiveness within the organization, as well as their effectiveness with customers and business growth is explored. Cultural norms and gender stereotyping and their influence on the leaders of NerveWire are also evaluated and explored.

Keywords: Coaching, In-group collectivism, Leadership, Team Management, Situational Leadership, Transformational Leadership NerveWire: a Case Study of Leadership
According to Peter Northouse in his book, "Leadership: Theory and Practice", the leadership style approach "emphasizes the behavior of the leader" (Northouse, 2010, p. 69) and "remind leaders that the action towards others occur on a task level in a relationship" (Northouse, 2010, p. 77). The style approaches to leadership include authority-compliance, country-club management; impoverish management, middle-of-the-road management, team management, paternalism/paternalism and opportunism (Northouse, 2010). The style leadership approach that was predominant in the leadership of Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold is “Team Management”. For example, according to Malcolm Frank, in the beginning days of NerveWire the major challenge was recruiting talent, more specifically finding individuals that embodied the values and organizational mission (Nohria & Mayo, 2008). This invariably meant "being cognizant of creating a culture and environment that reflected the type of business that we were trying to create", according to Malcolm Frank (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 1). Malcolm Frank also stated the leadership of NerveWire "consciously decided to hire colleagues that were phenomenally talented on an individual level, but more importantly, strong team players" (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 2). The Team Management style leadership approach "places a strong emphasis on both tasks and interpersonal relationships. It promotes a high degree of participation and teamwork in the organization and satisfies the basic need in employees to be involved and committed to their work" (Northouse, 2010, p. 75) according to two employees of NerveWire, the reasons for joining the company included (1) the opportunity to work for senior leadership which inspired employees through their commitment to building a business from the ground-up and (2) because the company expressed and demonstrated a commitment to securing the best talent possible, above consideration for the demands of expansion (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p.2). The Leadership Comparison Grid in Figure 1 highlights Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s management styles within the NerveWire organization relevant to their subordinates versus production. As indicated, both Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold leadership is based on a team management style. As already stated, leaders with a team management approach place an equal amount of emphasize on both tasks and relationships, thus creating a team environment; this creates commitment and motivation among subordinates (Northouse, 2010). Figure 1: NerveWire Leadership Comparison Grid

| | | | | | | | | | | |  |  |  |9,9 |  | | | |1,9 | | | | | | | | | Country Club |  | |...
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