NerveWire: A Case Study of Leadership Grand Canyon University LDR600 Professor Stephen Young April 22, 2010 Abstract 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. ). 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 | | | | |Arnold | | | | | |Team Management | | | | | | | | | | | | | Management | | | | Malcolm | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |Middle Of the Road | | | | | | | | |Management | | | | | | | | |5,5 | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |Impoverished Management | |Authoritarian Management | | | | 1,1 | | | | 9,1 | | | | | | | | | | | | Sydney Finkelstein and Donald C.
Hambrick, in their article, “Top-Management-Team Tenure and Organizational Outcomes: The Moderating Role of Managerial Discretion” suggests that the characteristics of the top managers in a firm determines the strategic choices and organization performance. The authors assert that “top managers make decisions to coincide with their view of the world” (Finkelstein & Hambrick, 1990, p. 486). This is consistent with Northouse’s suggestion that “a leadership team must identify and establish standards of performance so that pressure can drive members to perform at the highest level; otherwise, performance excellence will not be achieved” (Northouse, 2010, p. 127).
As the primary leaders within the executive team, Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s leadership approaches undergird the strategic choices and organizational performance that contributed immeasurably to NerveWire’s success during both great and challenging periods. In addition, Finkelstein and Hambrick suggest that choosing an industry is a critical decision to which leaders must give careful consideration. Leadership staffing decisions will invariably have very different consequences depending on the industry pursued (Finkelstein & Hambrick, 1990). NerveWire, Inc. was created in 1999 as an alternative to a “broken” technology consulting industry model (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 1). As stated by one NerveWire employee regarding Malcolm Frank, “he studies the industry, and he spends a lot of time with clients in order to determine how we can best serve the needs” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3).
According to Malcolm Frank, “traditional business enterprises were thirsty for a new type of consulting organization, a partner that would help them utilize the internet not as a marketing tool, but as a tool to rearchitect their business models, their internal value chains and their extended industry value chains to drive significant ROI” (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 1). Consequently, the success of the company was predicated on creating an innovative team to establish this alternative model. With the understanding that “teams play an important part in restructuring the role of the individual and others in the workplace” (Schreiber, 1996, p. 462), it is important to assess NerveWire’s leadership using Hackman and Walton’s “Conditions of Group Effectiveness” (Northouse, 2010, p. 252) as well as identify the most effective and prominent leadership characteristics exhibited by the NerveWire leadership team, specifically Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold.
According to Evelyn Jaffe Schreiber in her article, “Muddles and Huddles: Facilitating a Multicultural Workforce through Team Management Theory” team management addresses problems in the workplace arising from exclusion, distrust, and fear (Schreiber, 1996). Leaders also determine the tone for the organization, and whether the work environment is supportive, open, and receptive (Schreiber, 1996). The “Conditions of Group Effectiveness” advanced by Hackman and Walton suggests that “effected groups have a clear, engaging direction; an enabling performance situation that contains structure, support, and coaching; and adequate resources (Northouse, 2010, p. 252).
Several NerveWire employees, in commenting on Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s leadership of the company, cited Malcolm Frank as a “visionary who creates the perception of NerveWire and gives it tremendous credibility in the marketplace” (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 3). The employees also stated that Malcolm Frank’s “charisma inspires everyone around him to want to perform their best” (Nohria & Mayo, 2008a, p. 2). These employees’ perceptions are consistent with Malcolm Frank’s decision to hire Kirk Arnold as the COO for NerveWire shortly after the company’s inception. Kirk Arnold mirrored Malcolm Franks approach to leadership and team management.
For example, according to Schreiber “team-oriented companies have experienced increased customer satisfaction and retention, reduced operating costs, and increased productivity. improved revenues, increased margins and yields, increased enjoyment of the work place, increased quality of life, increased trust of staff, more empowered staff, and better aligned staff/workloads” (Schreiber, 1996, p. 462). Consequently, the key to a successful company is strong leadership with effective management styles. Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold led by example, supporting clear communication, and allowing employees the room to problem solve and take ownership of their decisions (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 3).
They both were very direct, honest, and aggressive, but also approachable by their employees and others, according to several employees (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 2; Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 3). Perhaps, the situation that best illustrates Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s leadership was the manner in which they handled a major impasse in the company’s “rapid growth and expansion” (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 1). In 2001, confronted with having to downsize their workforce, which grew from 12 employees, to 250, during a 12 month period (Nohria & Mayo, 2008), both leaders successfully led the company through a tenous ecomonic downturn in the technology industry, ultimately receiving “positive accolades from external (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 3)”. This same positive response was also apprarent internally.
For example, one employee stated that “Malcolm communicates accurately and to the point. If the news is bad, then the news is bad. But Malcolm has the ability to say it and leave people feeling good that we are well-positioned” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3). Despite the challenges NerveWire encountered as a result of a slow down in technology consulting spending in 2001, Red Herring 100 still named NerveWire as one of the “top 100 public and private companies that were still seen to represent the future of business innovation” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3). “NerveWire was one of only four consultancies on the list; the other three being IBM, Accenture and SAIC” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. ). According to Northouse (2010) these examples clearly illustrate NerveWire’s group effectiveness, consistent with Hackman and Walton’s Conditions of Group Effectiveness (p. 252). Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s handling of this crisis illustrates how effective they were at applying the situational leadership approach. For example, according to George W. Yeakey, in his article, “Situational Leadership”, the situational leadership model is founded on two concepts. The first concept asserts that leadership effectiveness has an inverse relationship to the demands of the environment, which results from using the most appropriate behavioral style.
Secondly, the leadership effectiveness is largely dependent on the ability of the leader to properly diagnose the workplace environment. Properly diagnosing the environment is the first of the three competencies of leadership, followed by applying the most appropriate leadership style and effectively communicating that style to employees (Yeakey, 2002). Yeakey further stated that the leader’s level of maturity relative to the task impacts on the leadership style chosen to assess and address any situation. The leader must identify the maturity level before the application of any leadership can occur, whether it is the most appropriate or not (Yeakey, 2002).
Clearly, Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold communicated the situation effectively to their employees and led them through this crisis, resulting in a positive impact on their leadership, employees and customers/clients. Hill’s model for “Team Leadership” is reflected in how Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold led NerveWire, creating its international reputation as a leading technology consulting firm (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 3). For example, from NerveWire’s inception, the leadership team addressed significant challenges, first in hiring exponentially to meet the business demands of the company, and secondly, having to downsize as a result of market decline (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 3-4).
These decisions, and the results, were due to the ability of Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold to monitor the market situation and take appropriate actions (Northouse, 2010). Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s internal leadership actions embodied both tasks and rational components of Hill’s model for “Team Leadership” by remaining focused on the goals of the company, structuring appropriately for the desired results (hiring and management), building commitment in a team management environment, coaching staff, facilitating decisions to meet specific and general challenges (Northouse, 2010, p. 244). Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s external leadership actions resulted in unprecedented phenomenal success within a short time period.
They garnered more business than the company was able to handle, forcing them to hire appropriate staff (from 12 to 250 employees within 12 months) to meet business demands, as previously indicated (Nohria & Mayo, 2008). Regarding the leadership styles demonstrated by Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold, it is apparent that they integrated many effective leadership approaches in managing NerveWire. It is impossible to suggest that one leadership style or approach was more effective than another. As indicated in Table 1, the leadership styles demonstrated by Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold expand across a number of prominent leadership styles such as transformational, path-goal theory, authentic, servant, ethical, and leader-member exchange theory. Table 1: Leadership Theories and Characteristics Leadership Theory Models |Characteristics | |Path-Goal Theory |Leaders can help subordinates toward their goals | | |Defines goals, clarifies path, removes obstacles, and provides support | |Leader-Member Exchange Theory |In-groups; out-groups | | |Create relationships, build trust and respect | |Servant Leadership |Serves others, before self | | |Listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, | | |stewardship, growth of people, and builds community | |Authentic Leadership |Serves others, Leading with one’s own personal core values | | Strong communications (writing, speaking and listening), inspirational, leads and is part | | |of the team, self discipline, integrity, and visionary | |Ethical Leadership |Serves others, trusted by followers, based on strong beliefs, values, skills, and trait | | |Honest, competent, forward-looking, intelligent, imaginative, inspiring, builds community,| | |respects and serves others, and nurtures the vision | |Transformational |Motivates, collaborative culture | For example, transformational leadership is a process of transforming individuals by inspiring individuals to be their best, which invariably inspires them to contribute more to the organization, and beyond what is normally expected or required.
Path-goal theory describes how leaders support and encourage their employees to reach their goals, while authentic emphasizes interpersonal, developmental, and interpersonal approaches that define the leader and his or her leadership (Northouse, 2010). Servant leadership “focuses on the needs of followers and helps them to become more knowledgeable, freer, more autonomous, and more like service themselves” (Northouse, 2010, p. 385). Ethical leadership “has to do with what leaders do and who leaders are” (Northouse, 2010, p. 378), while leader-member exchange theory stress the creation of an environment of trust, respect and relationships (Northouse, 2010).
As stated earlier, NerveWire was developed with a team approach focusing on motivating and respecting the skills individuals contribute to the organization. Several NerveWire employees touted the leadership approaches of Malcolm Frank using such descriptions as “visionary”, “charisma” “tremendous insight”, “enormous intellectual grasp”, etc. (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3). The employees expressed similar perceptions about Kirk Arnold using terms like “direct”, “honest”, “aggressive”, down-to-earth” “care” and “understanding” (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 3). These terms are inherent in the characteristics of the identified leadership styles of both Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold. Moreover both leaders’ posses dominate personality traits.
For example, Walumbwa, Avolio, and Zhu, in their article, “How Transformational Leadership Weaves Its Influence on Individual Job Performance: the Role of Identification and Efficacy Beliefs” suggest that transformational leaders success is predicated on their success in influencing their followers, which can only result from the quality of their connection to the followers’ self-concept (2008). In addition, this influence must result in the followers’ ability to identity with the mission of the organization. Once this is done, followers invariably become self-expressive (Walumbwa, Avolio, & Zhu, 2008). Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold did this effectively, merging the employee’s self-concept with the goals, objectives mission, and vision of the organization (Walumbwa, Avolio, & Zhu, 2008). This was achieved at NerveWire as a result of two factors.
First, was the mission and pursuit of NerveWire leadership to transform the technology consulting market by introducing alternative strategies to serve clients in more effectively using the internet? Secondly, the leadership recruited talent that was more in line with their thinking and that could operate within a team management environment (Nohria & Mayo, 2008). Regarding ethical leadership, Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold clearly demonstrated the importance of ethics through their accurate and honest communication with employees (Nohria & Price, 2008a). For example, Linda Newman, in her article, “Ethical Leadership or Leadership in Ethics? ” suggests that “ethics for leaders has two main dimensions.
The first is ethical leadership–the responsibility of a leader to think, act and lead ethically. The second is leadership in ethics–acting as a role model, mentor, and teacher to those who she or he aims to lead. Inherent to leadership in ethics is the ability to `talk the talk’ of ethics, that is to explain thought and action in terms of ethical principles and theories” (Newman, 2000, p. 40). Clearly, both Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold exhibited these two dimensions of ethical leadership. One employee described Kirk Arnold as a “role model in how to relate to people so that they feel motivated, part of the company, valuable contributors. A great example is the way Kirk walks the halls and talks to people… nterfaces with us on a one-on-one basis… ” (Nohria & Price, 2008, p. 3). Malcolm Frank was decribed as the person giving NerveWire “tremendous credibility in the marketplace” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3). Regarding authentic leadership, Kirk Arnold has been described as “down-to-earth” (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 3) and Malcolm Frank as “visionary” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3). In the article “Authentic Leadership: A Historical Perspective” the authors assert that “authentic individuals are virtuous due to their reluctance to rely on commonly accepted schema when seeking solutions to moral problems… centered on how an individual acts” (Novicevic et al. 2006, p. 64). During the tremendous challenges NerveWire encountered when the technology consulting market declined shortly after the company started, Malcolm Frank communicated the reality of the crisis to the employees so that there would not be any confusion regarding the authenticity of the company’s leadership and the organization’s mission (Nohria & Price, 2008a). Honest communication in itself undermines narcissistic behavior. Authors Novicevic, Harvey, Buckley, Brown, and Evans describe “leadership tragedy” as a “pseudo- authentic leadership characterized by moral disengagement of a narcissistic leader” (Novicevic et al. , 2006, p. 64).
Dumas and Sankowsky (1998), in their article, “Understanding the Charismatic Leader-Follower Relationship: Promises and Perils” state that when a leader is “narcissistic (as well as charismatic), he or she is likely to make errors with respect to the implementation of a mission. Such a leader is also excellent at covering up and blaming others, especially followers (Dumas & Sankowsky, 1998). Leadership success is “characterized by moral creativity of an authentic leader in aligning authentically personal moral convictions with the moral demands of organizational leadership” (Novicevic et al. , 2006, p. 64). With regard to servant and member-leader exchange leadership, Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold exhibit these important leadership styles.
For example, Malcolm Frank stated that he “takes it for granted that most of his colleagues are motivated, talented and honest, and that if he can instill passion in combination with these attributes, magnificent things can occur (Nohria & Mayo, 2008). Regarding Kirk Arnold, one employee stated that “Kirk’s sense of operations and sales and her ability to cull those moments of heroism out, is how she’s able to motivate people and run the company” (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 4). Over the past 25 years, a consensus has emerged among researchers regarding the basic factors that make up “personality” as it relates to leadership (Goldberg, 1990; McCrae & Costa, 1987).
These factors are commonly referred to as the “Big Five” and are: (1) neuroticism, (2) extraversion, (3) openness, (4) agreeableness and (5) conscientiousness (Northhouse, 2010, p. 23). Virtually all of the above were personality traits modeled by NerveWire’s top two leaders, Malcolm Frank, President/CEO and Kirk Arnold, COO, with the exception of neuroticism. For example, Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold’s communication and interaction with employees exhibits extraversion (Nohria & Price, 2008a). One employee stated that even when Malcolm Frank communicated bad news, he demonstrated “an ability to say it and leave people feeling good… “(Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3).
Kirk Arnold was described as an individual that is “able to communicate enthusiasm, excitement, concern, pressure, and direction that motivate a person to take a hard course of action” (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 3). Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold clearly exhibited openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness in their interaction with employees and clients. For example, one employee described Malcolm as “able to set targets for our company, communicate that to employees, and keep us in a very positive mode” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3), while Kirk Arnold was described as “showing interest in what we’re doing” (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 3) by another employee.
The example detailing Malcolm Frank’s work day provides insight regarding his conscientiousness, thoroughness, organization, dependability, and decisiveness (Nohria & Price, 2008). Women leaders abound in today’s business environment, however female gender stereotyping still exists. Women are stereotyped as more caring and nurturing; as having more sensitivity and warmth (Northouse, 2010). This may have arisen from the traditional roles that women held historically, such as being a nurse, a role that embodies caring and sensitivity. In fact, even today, 94% of nursing positions are held by women (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2009). Men have traditionally been characterized as more confident, decisive, assertive, and tough, compared to women (Northouse, 2010). Women are typically viewed as he weaker sex; they don’t have the drive and dedication necessary for leadership, and do not have effective leadership traits (Northouse, 2010). The statement “they are not tough enough to be president” (Northouse, 2010, p. 312), reflects the stereotype that women are less qualified for top leadership roles and political office. When women do act confident and assertive, and play down their female attributes, they are typed as too aggressive, bitchy or too manly (Northouse, 2010). Women are stereotyped as being less committed to their jobs than men, especially those women of child-bearing age (Northouse, 2010). The stereotype that women will quit their jobs to have children, or need to take maternity leave, is still evident in the work environment today (Northouse, 2010).
Kirk Arnold is a female who holds the position of COO, at NerveWire, a company made up of approximately 220 employees. This is an executive position, at the pinnacle of the leadership chain. The stereotypes of women not having appropriate leadership traits, or drive and commitment, are not apparent in Kirk Arnold. Kirk Arnold balances her aggressiveness and drive with her caring and nurturing style. Kirk Arnold came to NerveWire with a strong track record of leadership in other companies (Nohria & Price, 2008a). Contributing to her success is her passion, her shared vision, and her desire to make a difference. Kirk Arnold is committed and driven; tempering her aggressiveness with role modeling and coaching of younger leaders (Nohria & Price, 2008a).
In the self-assessment performed by Kirk Arnold, she acknowledges her ability to motivate employees and drive results, which inherently contributed to her success in the company and in the business world (Nohria & Mayo, 2008; Nohria & Price, 2008a). According to Northouse, the GLOBE (Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness) research program identified nine total dimensions of culture. These dimensions as depicted in Figure 3 are (1) uncertainty avoidance, (2) power distance, (3) institutional collectivism, (4) in-group collectivism, (5) gender egalitarianism, (6) assertiveness, (7) future orientation, (8) performance orientation, and (9) humane orientation (Northouse, 2010). Figure 3: Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior [pic] In evaluating NerveWire and its leadership against these cultural orms, it is apparent that institutional collectivism, in-group collectivism, future orientation, performance orientation, and humane orientation, were prominent cultural dimensions of the organization. This isn’t to suggest that the other cultural dimensions aren’t present at NerveWire, but rather that they are less prominent then those identified in evaluating the three articles: “NerveWire, Inc. “, “Malcolm Frank” and “Kirk Arnold”. Institutional collectivism refers to the “degree to which an organization… encourages collective action” (Northouse, 2010, p. 342). It is concerned “with whether cultures identify with broader societal interests rather than with individual goals and accomplishments” (Northouse, 2010, p. 340). In the article, “NerveWire, Inc. , research associate Tony Mayo quoted President and CEO, Malcolm Frank, as stating he “decided to hire colleagues that were phenomenally talented on an individual level, but more importantly, strong team players”. According to Malcolm Frank, the success of NerveWire’s efforts to reinvent business models across the clients’ enterprises depended upon assembling a team that worked exceptionally together. The focus was less on hiring “to fill open positions” and more on building a team (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 2). Alan Price quoted Kirk Arnold as stating, “When we lock on a set of goals, when we get on an execution plan, we drive very hard to the result. We make our commitments.
That tends to come from the collective energy of the team (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 2). Supporting these notions, Mayo cited the reasons two employees gave for their decisions to work at NerveWire, Inc. For example, the decision of one employee to join the NerveWire team was inspired by the opportunity to work for senior leadership committed “to building a business from the ground-up and doing things differently than the typical consulting firm”, while the other employee’s decision to join the company was inspired by the “opportunity to collaborate in the process of inventing the wheel versus reinventing or reusing it” (Nohria & Mayo, 2008, p. 3).
The experience related by these two employees in their decision to join NerveWire also demonstrates the cultural dimension of “in-group collectivism”, which refers to the degree that “people express pride, loyalty, and cohesiveness in their organizations and families” (Northouse, 2010, p. 340). Even Kirk Arnold, in her decision to join the NerveWire team, stated “I just looked at the opportunity as an once-in-a-lifetime scenario, in terms of both the market that we were facing, and the business that we aspired to build together. And the team that was around it. I felt at the end that I just couldn’t turn down this extraordinary chance to be a part of this team” (Nohria & Price, 2008a, p. 2).
Northouse further suggests that “in-group collectivism is concerned with the extent to which people are devoted to their organizations and families” (Northouse, 2010, p. 341). This invariably means that the demonstration of pride and admiration employees may have toward leadership is an indication of the degree of in-group collectivism. For example, several employees referred to Malcolm Frank’s leadership as “visionary”, “able to set targets for our company”, “communicate effectively with employees”, and “keep us in a very positive mode”. Some employees, according to Price, also stated that Malcolm Frank has the ability to “leave people feeling good that we are well-positioned… there’s no limit to where we might go” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3).
Regarding Kirk Arnold’s leadership at NerveWire, some employees stated that she “takes the time to understand what a person is about” and “continually demonstrates a level of care for that individual” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 3). Although these examples of leadership and the employees’ perceptions of NerveWire leadership can be attributed to in-group collectivism and institutional collectivism, it also demonstrates performance orientation and humane orientation. Malcolm Frank’s leadership for example, helped to build a management team and create a resource infrastructure for NerveWire, while growing the business from six employees to over 250 employees in less than 12 months (Nohria, & Mayo, 2008). Malcolm Frank also secured a tremendous amount of business beyond the scope the company could handle, which demonstrates future orientation (Nohria, & Mayo, 2008).
Frank successfully demonstrated these dimensions by developing a new business architectural model and using the internet as an e-commerce medium to meet business solutions. He also assembled a talented team, including Kirk Arnold, the former president of a 900 million dollar consulting practice and 5,000 employees, as the COO for NerveWire (Nohria & Mayo, 2008). Performance orientation, according to Northouse, describes the extent to which an organization encourages and rewards group members for improved performance and excellence (Northouse, 2010). Kirk Arnold, in referring to Malcolm Frank’s leadership stated, “All of us want to feel like we’re contributing. Malcolm is great about allowing me to feel like I own things and can run down the field” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 2).
Clearly, reward performance and excellence is embodied in granting employees participation in leadership and decision-making. This also applies to the dimension of humane orientation because it precipitates a cultural environment that “encourages and rewards people for being fair, altruistic, generous, caring, and kind to others” and “emphasizes sensitivity to others, social support and community values” (Northouse, 2010, p. 342). For example, as previously indicated, Malcolm Frank states, in leading the company through a financial crisis almost immediately after unprecedented success, “… we first have to get everybody to recognize that reality. Then people can start to recognize the reality of the situation and how the firm can react.
If you can get all of that on the table, then you can lead through it. If not, then it really becomes very confusing to people in the firm because people will notice that you were leading and managing very differently six months ago. And they will ask, “Will the real NerveWire please stand up? Will the real leadership team please stand up? ” (Nohria & Price, 2008b, p. 2) In summary, a successful leader is one who is able to effectively communicate a clear shared vision, motivates their employees, creates a team model by focusing on the employees’ abilities and skills, shares leadership to achieve the organizational mission, and has a positive effect on the community (Northouse, 2010).
According to Northouse the following can be identified as central to the leadership phenomenon: (a) leadership is a process, (b) leadership involves influence, (c) leadership occurs in groups, and (d) leadership involves common goals (Northouse, 2010). NerveWire’s leadership, as stated previously, has demonstrated effective leadership not only by the success of the company, but what the organization stands for. NerveWire broke from the traditional business pattern and developed an innovative model that incorporated the customer as part of the team, and the goal. NerveWire would partner with their customer (business-to-business) and assist in the advancement of that business by developing new strategies and solutions. Ultimately, NerveWire’s mission was to ensure they built a team that had the same values, motivations, and goals; this they seem to have achieved.
As stated so eloquently by CEO Malcolm Frank during a season low, “how we manage through this transition will set the tone for the future direction and success of our company” (Nohria & Mayo, 2008b, p. 4). Clearly, the team management approach to leadership is the new and promising instrument for company success. Team management “dismantles hierarchical structures in favor of participatory ones… dissolving barriers and creating unity (Schreiber, 1996, p. 462). Schreiber suggests that team management breaks down “hierarchical structures to decenter power”. It also “validates all roles through equal importance and group decision making” (Schreiber, 1996, p. 462). What will be expected in the future from our leaders?
They will require the ability to develop a strong direction with a clear vision; the ability to communicate effectively; the ability to adapt to changes and opportunities, to exude confidence and strong emotional intelligence – ultimately, to emanate true leadership style and characteristics. As demonstrated by Malcolm Frank and Kirk Arnold, teams can resolve problems through brainstorming techniques that allow for group resolution. These solutions will enable a team to function successfully… (Schreiber, 1996, p. 462). References American Association of Colleges of Nurses (2009). Home page, Retrieved from http://www. aacn. nche. edu/media/NewsReleases/2009/workforcedata. html Dumas, C. , & Sankowsky, D. (1998).
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