The Ethics of Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Ethics, Robert Nardelli Pages: 5 (1648 words) Published: April 4, 2013
The Ethics of Leadership

David Draper

Ashford University

BUS 610- Organizational Behavior
Dr. Gary Shelton

March 18, 2013

The paper explores the leadership of Robert Nardelli at home depot during the years of 2000 through 2006. The paper focuses on his methods and actions in the context of leadership theory in an effort to define his specific leadership style. Once defined the paper examines his methods and actions to determine if they were ethical or unethical. Nardelli’s performance at Home Depot was statistically successful but his authoritarian leadership style, which he obtained while being very successful at GE did not mesh with the culture that existed at Home Depot during his tenure.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss and identify Robert Nardelli’s, former CEO of Home depot, leadership style and whether or not his actions and methods are considered ethical or unethical. In order to consider his actions ethical or unethical the paper will also explore a brief discussion of ethics and ethical behavior in the workplace or organization. LEADERSHIP STYLES

There are many general categories of leadership styles, trait, behavioral, situational, contingency, transactional, and transformational theories (Cherry, 2012). These categories highlight the evolution of leadership theories and study but also highlight the change in cultural beliefs in the world. There are several approaches within each category; we will leverage these specific approaches to define Nardelli’s style of leadership. Trait based theories focus on the characteristics that differentiate a leader from the generic employee. This theory focused on the inclination that leaders were born and had specific traits that made them leader. Such traits as height and physical attractiveness were just a few that were evaluated. They stated that if they were successful in one business they would be successful in another (Baack, 2012). Behavioral based theories focused on specific behaviors that made a leader successful. If specific behaviors could be identified in successful leaders it was then possible to train a person to be a successful leader (Baack, 2012). Situational based leadership theories focused situational variables; one such example would be knowledge about the business. A leader may be more knowledgeable than his followers and take and authoritarian type approach, if he was less knowledgeable about the business than the workers he may take a participative type approach to leadership. Contingency-based theories such as Fiedler’s (1967) suggested that success of the leader was dependent on that leader changing his style to match that of the situation (Baack, 2012). An example, would be that of an assembly line in which a different type of leadership would be needed versus a retail environment, like that at Home Depot. Transactional theories base leadership on a system of rewards and punishments (Baack, 2012). These are typical of sales organizations in which a person is rewarded for achieving a set quota and punished for not achieving the preset goal. Lastly, transformational theories, which seemed to be the theory of current day, “motivate and inspire people by helping group members see the importance and higher good of the task” (Cherry, 2012, para. 8) NARDELLI’S PAST

Nardelli was and is a product of General Electric’s (GE) legacy on leadership and leadership style. GE’s legacy was that of performance and execution. A majority of GE’s businesses are manufacturing type businesses, where process and execution are extremely important. Every leadership and management textbook has a reference to GE and the legacy that Jack Welch, Former CEO of GE, left on the management world. Nardelli was head of the power turbine business at GE and built that business for GE. He grew revenues from 770 million in 1995 to over 2.8 billion in 2000, by focusing on process improvement and cost reductions. GE has very...

References: Anonymous (2007) Home Unimprovement: was Nardelli’s tenure at home depot a blueprint for failure? Knowledge@Wharton Retrieved from
Baack, D. (2012). Organizational Behavior. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Cherry, K. (2012). Leadership Theories – 8 Major Leadership Theories. Retrieved from
Grow, B., Foust, D., Thornton, E., Farzad, R., McGregor, J., & Zegal, S. (2007). Out at home depot. Business Week.
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Murry, A. (2007). Home Depot’s Nardelli’s fatal flaw: failing to understand new demands on CEOs. Wall Street Journal Retrieved from
Nussbaum, B. (2007). Lessons from home depot’s Bob Nardelli—why command and control is so bad. Business Week. Retrieved from
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Stark, A. (1993). What 's the Matter with Business Ethics?. Harvard Business Review, 71(3), 38-48.
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