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Organizational Behavior Case Study and Leadership

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    Question 2: Several symptoms indicating the problems exist in Lacrosse Inc have been stated in the previous analysis. We have identified three sources of the problem which are: – Changing in leadership style – Differentiation – Commnication – In this part we will try to analyze the underlying cause of the problems using two leadership theories, namely path-goal leadership theory and competencies perspectives of leadership. Moreover, we will try to relate this case with other Organizational Behavior theory. We have identified that this problems create a kind of conflict in the organization.

    So, we decide to approach this case with theory of conflict. Here, we will only use two sources of conflict, namely differentiation and communication. A. Path-Goal Leadership Theory This theory is one of the theories which belong to Contingency perspective of leadership. Contingency perspective of leadership is based on the idea that the most appropriate leadership style depends on the situation. Most contingency leadership theories assume that an effective leader must be both insightful and flexible. They must be able to adapt their behavior and styles to the immediate situation.

    Path-goal leadership theory incorporated expectancy theory of motivation into the study how leader behaviors influence employee perceptions of expectancies (paths) between employee effort and performance (goals). This model specifically highlightes four leadership styles and several contingency factors leading to three indicators of leader effectiveness. In this following are the four leadership styles: • Directive These are clarifying behaviors that provide a psychological structure for subordinates. The leader clarifies performance goals, the mean to reach those goals, and the standard against which the performance will be judged.

    This style also includes judicious use of rewards and disclipinary actions. • Supportive This behavior provides psychological support for subordinates. The leader is friendly and approachable; makes the work more pleasant; treats employees with equal respect; and shows the concern for the status, needs, and well being of employees. • Participative These behavior encourage and facilitate subordinate involvement in decisions beyond their normal work activities. The leader consult with employees, ask for their suggestions and take this idea into serious consideration before making decision. Achievement-oriented These behavior encourage employees to reach their peak performance. The leaders set challenging goals, expect employees to perform at their highest level, continuously seeks improvement in employee performance, and shows a high degree of confidence that employee will assume responsibility and accomplish challenging goals. Based on the theory written above we will try to identify the problem exists in Lacrosse Inc and how leadership style give contribution to the problems. As defined earlier, LaCrosse Inc sold a majority share to Build-All Products Inc.

    As part of agreement, Jan Vlodoski is brought in as vice president to oversee production operations while Lacrosse spent more time meeting with developers. This is the point where the problems start growing. It is common that in the period where changes are taking place, problems will come out. Here we will analyze what leadership styles that are possesed by these two persons, Lacrosse and Vlodoski, and how it affects the employee. Lacrosse Leadership Style Basically, Lacrosse implemented all types of the leadership identified previously.

    He has a good ability to adjust with the situation and pick up which style is appropriate with the situation. In one situation he can be directive and supportive, while at other time he can be participative, as well as achievement-oriented. We will try to analyze the leadership style that is implemented by Lacrosse by looking at some particular event/situation in the company so as to make it clearer to observe is style. 1. Directive Lacrosse used to spend most of his time in the production shop teaching new apprentices the unique skills.

    He taught the new apprentices how exactly to make a handcrafted wood-framed window, understanding what are the characteristics of good wood, the best tools to use, and how to choose the best glass from local suppliers. This is considered directive style. However, this style is suitable for new apprentices. Since they had no skills and experiences, it is necessesary to give them direction about what tasks they have to do, how exactly to do the task, what method should be used, and what goal wanted to be achieved.

    As the company were getting bigger and the numbers of employees were increasing significantly, Lacrosse delegated the task to train the apprentice to his master carpenters and other craftspeople. 2. Supportive The second style that he used is supportive. In the early years, when he still taught the apprentices directly, he will not be reluctant and sincerely applauded the apprentice for their accomplishment. It would give some sort of motivation to the apprentices to maintain their good works.

    Moreover, he is willing to spend most of his time in the production shop to be with his employees, learn their needs, listen to them and motivate them to perform their best. When the headquarter was moved due to expansion, he would still chat with the plant and office employee several times each week. He kept his supportive style. He would show up during evening break with coffee and boxes of doughnuts to discuss how the business was doing and how it become so successful through quality work. He always thank his employees for making the business a success.

    He always support his employees to do their best to deliver high quality handcrafted window. The point is he always maintain good communication and close relationship with his employees. This supportive style was successful to motivate the employees to keep up their good performance. 3. Participative Lacrosse also implemented a participative style. He would not mind to ask opinion from his senior employees when something has to be decided. As stated in the book, before he decided to sell some share of his company to Build All, he was consulting it first with his employees.

    Moreover, employees was involved in the procedure of purchasing supplies. The company highly trained purchasing staff will work closely with senior craftspeople when selecting suppliers. The examples mentioned above depicted how Lacrosse encourage employees participation in decision making. It is good for senior employees who possessed high skills and experience to be involved in decision making to make them feel empowered and respected. 4. Achievement-oriented Lacrosse is very concerned about quality of his product. He always repeat his vision of “window on life”.

    He encouraged employees to keep delivering highest quality handcrafted windows so as to support his vision. It showed that Lacrosse is also an achievement-oriented leader. He wanted to achieve his goals, his vision, and direct the employees toward his vision with his motivating way. Lacrosse has a great ability to choose which style is appropriate in a particular situation. Moreover, he knows how to combine between two or three styles of leadership in a good proportion. In situation for new apprentices, who do not have enough skill and experience, he tend to use directive style, along with supportive style.

    On the other hand, for the experienced and skilled employees he used participative, supportive and task-oriented style. However, in general situation, he always be a supportive leader who always encourage, motivate his employees. To other extent, he is an achievement-oriented leader who wants to accomplish his vision of “window on life”. This following diagram will depict combination of styles that Lacrosse used based on the path-goal theory of leadership model depicted in figure 1 previously. Jan Vlodoski Leadership Style

    If Lacrosse is a leader who tries to combine and adjust his style so that it becomes appropriate to a particular situation, Vlodoski is more attached to one particular style, directive style. It is clearly shown in his action. Rather than visiting the production plant, Jan Vlodoski, would rarely leave his office in the company’s downtown headquarters. Production orders were sent to supervisors through memorandum. It implies his directive style without being supportive at all. He also made few changes in the company system. He implemented strict inventory guidelines.

    He changed the purchasing methods and removed production leaders from decision process and resulted in some trade-off that would not have made earlier. Causes of problem The cause of the problem is actually the changing of the leadership style. The employees who were comfortable with the style Lacrosse used to manage the company feel a bit strange with the changing style brought in by Vlodoski. They did not get the supportive style that previously so dominant in the company, since Vlodoski prefer to stay in his office rather than visiting the production plant.

    Vlodoski did not notice that the strength of this company is the cohesiveness of its employees and employer. Moreover, Vlodoski eliminate the involvement of the production leaders from the decision process of purchasing the material. By doing this, Vlodoski did not implement the participative style. While doing the changes, he did not even ask opinion from senior workers. Plodoski did not even try to communicate his plan to the employees. He just did what he wanted to do. He just brought in some new procedures to Lacrosse Inc without examining the appropriateness of the procedures to be implemented in that company.

    Vlodoski’s uncompromizing style does not suit most of the workers. They missed the supportive and participative style previously implemented by Lacrosse. They feel demotivated. In the nutshell, according to our analysis, Plodoski is not an effective leader. According to path-goal theory an effective leader is the one who can adjust which style is appropriate and can be used in a particular situation. It is not effective to use one common style for all situations. Especially during the time where some changes take place. It is not easy to do changes, there will be some resistances.

    Specially, for a leader who cannot adjust his style with the situation, it will give bad effects to overall company just like Plodoski did. And what make things become worst when employees tend to compare the good leadership style that was implemented by Lacrosse to the uncompromizing directive style by Plodoski. B. Competency Perspective of Leadership Over the past decade leadership researchers and consultants have returned to the notion that leadership requires specific personal characteristics. This theory encompasses a broad range of personal characteristics, as the following: ? Emotional intelligence

    The leader’s ability to monitor his or her own and other’s emotions, discriminate among them and use the information to guide his or her own thought. Analysis: In this case, Lacrosse has a high emotional intelligence. He knows how to adapt with the situation and do the right action. He knows how to motivate the employees, influence them and geared them toward the company’s goal. On the other hand, Vlodoski may not possess a high emotional intelligence, since he did some actions without considering the effect to other people. It looks like he does not know how to motivate and influence the employee.

    Moreover, he has lack of ability to capture the situation of the company. ? Integrity The leader’s truthfulness and tendency to translate words into deeds. Analysis: For this part, there is not enough information to analyze whether both persons has high integrity or not. However, for Lacrosse, we assume that he has high integrity by looking at his willingness to interact, support and gather with his employees. It seems like he cares about his employees and willing to listen to his employees. For Vlodoski, it is hard to determine since he rarely interact with the employees. Drive The leader’s inner motivation to pursue goals Analysis: Lacrosse definitely has a high inner motivation to pursue his goal. He created his vision, communicate them effectively, modeling the vision and build commitment for the vision. He wanted his business to deliver highest quality of product in order to support his vision of “window on life”. He encourages, influences and motivates the employees to follow, think and act toward that vision, and he manages to make the vision become the company’s vision. In our opinion, Vlodoski also has a high motivation in his self.

    However, he can not communicate it and acted in a way that against the flow. ? Leadership motivation The leader’s need for socialized power to accomplish team or organizational goals Analysis: We assume that both of them have the motivation to influence people toward their objectives. ? Self-confidence The leader’s belief in his or her own leadership skills and ability to achieve objectives. Analysis: Lacrosse has a great self confidence. He has the expertise in the business. He knows how to treat the employees. He knows how to influence and motivate them.

    There is no way that he could do all of that things if he does not have self confidence. For Vlodoski, in our opinion he also has self confidence. He has the guts to replace a system something that has become a culture in Lacrosse Inc. Unfortunately, he didn’t utilize his self confidence in a proper way. ? Intelligence The leader’s above average coginitive ability to process enormous amount of information Analysis: It is quite hard to analyze this part. But, we assume that both of them, Lacrosse and Vlodoski have appropriate cognitive ability to process enormous information ? Knowledge of the business

    The leader’s tacit and explicit knowledge about the company’s environment, enabling him or her to make more intuitive decisions Analysis: This may be one of the biggest differences between these two persons. Lacrosse knows everything about this business. He has years of experience working on handcrafted windows. He knows how to make a good window, what materials are required, and how to select good materials. Moreover, he has experienced the process of making the window himself, so he knows what kind of supportive environment needed, what is the pressure during the process and etc.

    It becomes a valuable knowledge for him while managing the business. He knows what to control and how to control this type of business. On the other hand,Vlodoski is relatively new for the business. He must have knowledge about business operation management in general. However, this particular business may need different treatment and approach. And what Vlodoski did was implementing a common business strategic without considering the nature of the business first. From the identification above we can determine several differences between these two leaders.

    We would like to emphasize in two certain points, emotional intelligence and knowledge of the business. Lacrosse has a good emotional intelligence, whereas Vlodoski lack of it. It affects the situation of the company. Lacrosse has managed to influence, motivate and enable the employees, whereas Vlodoski was not able to do that. Lacrosse can influence employees to follow his vision and make the vision become the employees’ vision, whereas Vlodoski does not have a clear vision. The second point is knowledge of the business. Lacrosse knows everything about what to do about the business.

    Meanwhile, Vlodoski does not recognize the nature of the business and make decision on his own without consulting with others. There is one situation where one theory can be implemented in one business cannot be implemented in other business. And Vlodoski should notice this situation. This lack of knowledge leads to bad decisions and create problems in the company. Let us take the example in the inventory new procedures and new purchasing supplies procedure. In the case where a business relies on high quality as its competitive advantages, inventory cost cannot be cut so much, since high quality product needs high quality material.

    By targeting very low inventory cost would make the business unable to deliver its competitive priorities. C. Differentiation Differentiation may lead to some problem and potentially be the source of conflict in an organization. As we know, since Build All bought the biggest share of Lacrosse Inc, it brought in a vice president to oversee the production. This is the point where the problems start to appear. We conclude that this problem results from some differences. The changing of leadership style will cause some problem. But we have emphasized on that thing in the previous part.

    In the following we will list down some of the differences. Values and Culture Values are the beliefs that are held by a company to determine right and wrong, and used as guidance for their action. Culture are shared values, assumptions held by the company. Lacrosse Inc leaded by Lacrosse for many years obviously has established its culture and values. Lacrosse as we known has become a supportive leader for its employee. He really holds the culture of employee-friendly. There is a strong bond between him and his employee. He encourages the employee towards the company’s goal.

    He created a family environment in his workforce. Furthermore, he managed to attract employees’ involvement in decision making for the company. He made the company become everybody’s company, and strengthen his personal vision become company’s vision and culture. When Vlodoski entered the company, he brought in a totally different style with Lacrosse. He is a genuine directive leader. This style does not suit the company which valued the employee involvement culture. Vlodoski tend to decide everything by his own and did not ask for other opinion.

    It leaded to some sharp differences between him and the employees, where the employees were enjoying and more comfortable with Lacrosse’s style. This becomes one source of the problem. Incompatible Vision and Goal Lacrosse is a transformational leader. He created his vision “window on life” which is meant to deliver highest quality handcrafted window. He always communicated his vision to his employees from time to time. Furthermore, he was modeling his own vision through his action. With his experience and expertise, he told the employee how to deliver highest quality handcrafted window.

    And lastly, he built commitment among his employees to reach and maintain the vision. He managed to do that, and the company finally came out with the goal to deliver highest quality handcrafted window to its customer. This goal is being hold by all employees. It is obvious that Lacrosse Inc relies on high quality product for its competitive priorities. When Vlodoski came in to the company, he did some actions which are incompatible with the company’s vision and goal. It is basically a good idea that he tried to cut the inventory cost which for this long is been paid less attention.

    In purchasing supplies, he tried to bring in Build All procedure, where he removed production leaders from decision process. It resulted to some trade off of cheap low quality material that Lacrosse’s employees would not have made earlier. This leaded to some disagreement from the employees. They felt that the policy to buy low quality material is not aligned with the company vision and goal to deliver highest quality handcrafted window. Vlodoski action showed that he used to work in a business which gives priority to low cost production. It is not aligned with Lacrosse Inc which emphasize in high quality product.

    More attention need to be paid to inventory cost, however the challenge is how to determine a reasonable cost rather than implementing very low cost which will sacrifice the company’s competitive priority. D. Communication Communication is also one source of the problem happened in the company. Lacrosse was able to develop a great flow of communication between him and his employees. In fact, he worked hard for that by maintaining an intense interaction to his employees. Vlodoski really overlooked this part. He ignored the importance of this factor.

    He tend to use memo rather than direct visual communication. He paid less attention to employees. Furthermore, in terms of decision making he really undermined the employees’ involvement. This situation created problems for the company. Less communication made employee less motivated. In addition, it also made the employees feel that the leader is not aligned with the culture of the company. And the worst thing is, Vlodoski’s decisions were incompatible with the company vision, since he did not try to communicate his decision. This communication problem has lead to dissatisfaction by the employees.

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