Organisational Development - Leadership

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Organizations today are confronted with the need for change almost every day. In the increasingly unpredictable and complex environment, organizations must adapt for them to be successful. To better adapt to the changing environment, the pathfinder leadership style is the most ideal of all. It seeks both a high degree of effectiveness and a high degree of member satisfaction, believing that greater effectiveness is possible when all members are involved and problem-solving is done through teamwork. There is awareness that confrontation and conflict are often a means to a more effective organization and to more satisfied individual members. It uses collaborative problem solving and challenges the underlying patterns of member behaviour. (Waddell, Cummings and Worley 2007)

For an organization to perform effectively, six essential processes are focused upon: communication, member role and functions in groups, group problem-solving and decision-making, group norms and growth, leadership and authority, and inter-group cooperation a competition. (Brown and Harvey 2006)

This report examines the leadership styles and the changes for the company, Hewlett Packard (HP). Leading in information technology (IT) industry, it had a people-focused culture, namely the ‘H.P. Way’; which was the motivating force behind its success. The purpose of this report is to determine whether the change leaders should be internal or external by analyzing the effectiveness of HP’s internal leadership against external leadership.

The benefits for an external consultant to intervene would be to better probe difficult issues and question the status quo to provide a more objective perspective for the company as a whole. External consultant can be engaged to find out the true “voice” of its employees without the worries of internal conflicts between management and the work force. (Brown and Harvey 2006)

Moreover, depending on the external consultant’s profile, deference and power are factors that can be used to influence the mentality of the work force as a whole in terms of change resistances. However, the downside of an external OD consultant would be familiarization with the organization would take too long, resulting in changes that couldn’t be timely enough. (Waddell, Cummings and Worley 2007)

An internal change leader would mean easier establishment of rapport and trust with members of the organization. Also, knowledge of the organization’s current practices and dynamics may assist leaders to bring about change without creating more resistances. (Rothwell, et al. 2009) As the leadership in HP had always been led internally, the organization may be wary of external advisers whose less commitment in seeing through the changes proposed.

From a small electronic instruments company, HP grew into one of the global leaders in IT products and services by the year 2000 with the adoption of pathfinder’s leadership style, namely “The H.P. way”. However, things have changed after the style of leadership was transformed. Carly Fiorina, successor of HP’s CEO, who took over the reins of the company in 1999, had transformed the pathfinder’s style into the analyzer style, which places great emphasis on efficiency but gives little emphasis to member satisfaction. The analyzer feels most comfortable with a rational assessment of problem and assumes that the facts will lead to a solution. (Brown and Harvey 2006)

After drastic changes were made to the culture by Fiorina, HP experienced declining profits for the past decade due to the changing profile of the company and the dynamics of global competition. Due to losing market share to other competitors like IBM and Dell, Fiorina’s strategic plan was to buy over Compaq, one of the competitors to increase its market share in the industry. However, profits weren’t as promising even after the merger. It did however, further weakened the culture of HP when oppositions arose, causing the board to be divided...
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