Organizational Behavior and Group Dynamics/Mgt 330
November 11, 2009
Wal-Mart Management and Leadership Analysis
Wal-Mart is arguably the most dynamic corporation in the last 50 years in the United States, if not the world. Arising from its beginnings in Bentonville, Arkansas, it has grown to over 4,400 discount stores, super centers and corner markets worldwide. Wal-Mart continues to expand despite public criticism of its labor practices as well as complaints about their treatment of competitors. The many strengths of Wal-Mart, like their low cost production and marketing practices, will aid Wal-Mart as it continues to grow in the retail industry. Ending their labor problems will strengthen their largest weakness further allowing growth. This author will analyze the management and leadership styles of Wal-Mart, in addition to the organizational culture, has made Wal-Mart the global powerhouse they are today. Management and Leadership
To be clear, management and leadership are not interchangeable terms. Leadership is an action; management is an administrative title. While leadership is the art of directing and influencing others to accomplish a goal, management, by definition, is merely a function of administration. There are many factors that determine how a goal is accomplished and for as many factors that there are, there are just as many types of leaders. Leaders can be charismatic and influential, but they can also be lame and impotent. Perhaps the best definition of leadership can be found in the following paraphrased quote by Cassie Skinnet: “A [leader]…is a person that can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.” Throughout history, there have been many effective leaders. No matter what their agenda, their one common attribute is that they were able to attract a following of people who strongly believed in them and their message. These leaders possess certain traits or characteristics that set them apart from most people. Leadership energizes a corporation and encourages followers. The highly successful management and leadership style at Wal-Mart is innovative and original. Developed by its founder, Sam Walton, in 1962, associates are often encouraged to “break all the rules” (Wal-Mart Management, para. 2) in an effort to provide the best customer service and lowest prices in the industry. In addition to continuous team training, management associates undergo an intensive leadership development course that focuses on communication skills, coaching for success and team building. Advanced senior leadership seminars are also encouraged so that managers can build on their skills and apply them to real-life situations (Wal-Mart, 2001). It is apparent that Wal-Mart provides its managers with every possible opportunity to become successful leaders and encourages their growth and success with the company. Organizational Culture
Although there is not one specific definition for “organizational culture,” it can be loosely defined as the beliefs and values around which a corporation is organized. Therefore, a healthy organizational culture would be one in which all members of management are working toward the same common goal by maximizing employees’ creative ideas and marketing strategies. Managers on every level have a direct impact on organizational culture and employee satisfaction, as their subordinates constantly scrutinize them. It is crucial that managers use caution when making decisions, ensuring that they execute determinations with fairness and that their ethical standards are in line at all times. An unhealthy work environment can lead to employee dissatisfaction and result in high turnover, costing the company thousands in training costs.
During the last decade Wal-Mart management has suffered extreme criticism over their unfair labor...