This paper aims to discuss the peculiarities of leadership in such international company as Boeing. In order to do it, we need to focus on such aspects as managerial competence, the policies, established in this organization and the relationships between leadership and employees. During assessment we need to refer to such concepts as the source of power, the role of a leader, the difference between the leader and the manager. The most important task is to identify both positive and negative sides of this enterprise. This can enable us to propose recommendations that can contribute to improvement of their performance. This report is based on both primary and secondary sources. These sources include interviews conducted with the executive officers of the firm as well as scholarly sources, dedicated to the study of this enterprise. On the whole, it is quite possible to argue that Boeing has established a very elaborate network for training, promoting and encouraging leadership skills and behavior but they are too conservative and formal in their policies and this diminishes the quality of their leadership.
Leadership in Boeing
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership in any organization, we should first identify the major functions which a leader needs to fulfill. According to the James Kouzes and Barry Posner, this individual should be able to cope with the following tasks:
- model the way or develop key strategies;
- inspire a shared vision;
- challenge the process,
- enable the subordinates to act,
- encourage the heart or promote emotional well-being of the employees (Kouzes & Posner, 3).
This model is traditionally called MICEE. Although none of the officials actually identified those tasks. But even despite this fact, they appear to be very competent in their professional area. When modeling the way they first consider long-term objectives of Boeing and the interest of their clients. It should be noted that some of them do not provide autonomy to the subordinates. For example, Phyllis A DiTocco is more authoritative when she challenges the process. She demands strict subordination from the members of her team.
We need to say that these officials have different managerial and leadership styles: for instance, Mr. Barry Glass prefers liberal approach. He always collaborates with the team while making decisions. He says, “Its always a team decision. It has to be a consensus”1. In her turn, Phyllis A DiTocco advocates hierarchical or even commanding style of management. Probably, this choice significantly depends on the nature of their work because in some cases the situation requires quick decision-making and this can be achieved only through more authoritative policies.
In this respect, it is critical for us to discuss the differences between such concepts as leadership and management. Leaders attach primary importance to creating and communicating vision. They set directions for further development and make other people believe that organizational goals are feasible and achievable. In their turn, managers are engaged with procedural parts like budgeting, planning or scheduling (Hannagan, 5). Naturally, all of these aspects are an inseparable part of effective performance. Judging from the interviews, Boeing officials try to keep balance between management and leadership, which means that their power relies both on persuasion and persuasion. For example, Phyllis A DiTocco may talk to her subordinates, identify their problems, and give them a chance to adapt to the company and rehabilitate themselves if they make any mistakes. Trust is one of her topmost priorities. But at the same time, she is a very strict executive, who pays careful attention and documents every case of misdemeanor.
Still, they seem to be more concerned with delegating responsibility and getting people to move toward common goal. In other words, they prefer to act like managers rather than leaders. In fact, true leaders are rather difficult to find even in such company as Boeing. Moreover, the vast majority of people prefer to remain managers rather than become leaders.
Overall, we should say that the Boeing Company always sets stress on appropriate employee development and development of leadership qualities. Many scholars emphasize the unique features of BLC (Boeing Leadership Center) because only very few American companies have such departments that offer extra training to the workers (Yost et al, 17). The uniqueness of this institution lies in the following. Managers and employees are required to pass through the so-called “mock sessions”2. These scenarios may emulate various ethical dilemmas, workplace situations, conflicts etc. Managers as well as employees are required to act like participants of these scenarios, find solutions to these problems and explain their decisions. In this center Boeing managers and employees are provided with specific guidelines for improving or acquiring their professional and leadership skills. A person can attend BLC many times, but there is no specific scheduling. The main peculiarity of BLC is that it is oriented specifically to the needs of the Boeing Company. This is one of the reasons why Boeing constantly gains competitive advantage over other firms operating in the United States and throughout the world (Hoskisson, 73).
The source of power
Nonetheless, there are some controversies in Boeing policies, namely the source of power in this organization. The thing is that their control relies on reward and coercion but not on charismatic leadership. Undoubtedly, their executives emphasize the importance of leadership but practically all of them resort to compulsion while motivating their subordinates3. However, a good leader is able to persuade his or her subordinates without threatening them with dismissal or fines. Phyllis A DiTocco tells that the Boeing Company has an official warning system and if the number of these warnings exceeds a certain limit, the employee will be terminated4. Such approach to monitoring may be the only solution especially given the size and complexity of the Boeing Company. But this formal strategy contradicts the main principles of leadership, because a leader has to inquire into the causes of another persons behavior and help him to rectify his mistakes (Northouse, 113). This is by far the major drawback or Boeing’s leadership policies.
Assessment of leadership in Boeing
To some extent, such leadership policies can be explained by the structure of this organization. First, it should be borne in mind that this is an extremely large and complex company; it comprises several subsidiaries and has branches in other countries. Most importantly, this firm has to operate within very strict deadlines. This is why it is crucial that each worker clearly understands his or her roles and duties. The management must ensure that there are no delays. This is one of the reasons why the company adopts more authoritative style of motivating people.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this firm styles itself as a very conservative organization with its own dress code and ethical standards of behavior. Any deviation from the established norm may be taken as irresponsible attitude or even unwillingness to comply with the companys policies. This eventually affects leadership style in this enterprise: it becomes authoritative and conservative. Naturally, on the one hand such approach is quite understandable because Boeing has acquired it reputation several decades ago, and no one is allowed to destroy it. Yet, the company should take a less formal attitude toward their policies. The problem is that formalism and conservatism can stifle leadership in this organization because average employees will not be able to show the best qualities.
This discussion indicates that the Boeing Company tries to offer opportunities for personal and professional development to the managers and the personnel. They attempt to improve leadership qualities of their workers and find people who are potentially able to become leaders. But the management should adopt more flexible attitude toward the relationships with average employees. Coercion and reward should not be the major sources of their power because such strategy gives only short-term incentives to the employees.
Hoskisson, Robert. Strategic Management – Concepts and Cases: Competitiveness and Globalization. Cengage Learning, 2008.
Kouzes, James & Posner Barry. The leadership challenge. John Wiley and Sons, 2007.
Northouse, Peter. Leadership: Theory and Practice. SAGE, 2009.
Schein, Edgar. Organizational culture and leadership. John Wiley and Sons, 2004.
Yost, Paul & Plunkett, Mary. “Turn Business Strategy Into Leadership Development”. American Society for Training & Development, 2002 vol. 56, issue 3, pp 17-20.
1 Please, refer to the appendix, interview with Barry Glass.
2 Please refer to the interview with Phyllis A DiTocco
3 Please refer to the interview with Phyllis A DiTocco and Barry Glass
4 Interview with Phyllis A DiTocco