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Leadership in Action

In: Business and Management

Submitted By breezer2005
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According to Daft (2008, p. 4) the definition of leadership has been discussed since ages in the academic environment but scientific studies have started in the 20th century. There are a lot of suggestions about its definition one of which is that leadership is nothing more than a romantic myth – people hope that their problems will be solved by someone’s sheer force of will. One of the popular definitions is “Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes” (Daft, p. 5). Some people cannot distinguish the difference between a manager and a leader. It is well-known that you can be a leader without being a manager. Bennis and Nanus propose that “managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing” (Are Managers Leaders, 2011). In order for everyone to be an effective leader they have to be able to find the right balance between moral, social and business characteristics of leadership. According to Yukl (1989, p. 6) an effective leader is generally someone that leads by example and other people just tend to follow because they believe what they do is the right thing. A commonly used measure of leader effectiveness is how well the leader’s group fulfills its tasks and attains its goals. Another indicator is the attitude of followers toward the leader. A very important measurement of the leader’s effectiveness is his contribution to the quality of the group processes.

The key characteristics which have to be taken in to consideration in order to be an effective leader are as follows: they are credible; that gives them greater pride in the organization and better cooperation and teamwork; they keep their promises; they have perfect idea of what others value and what they can do; they admit their mistakes knowing that trying to hide them ruins their credibility; they help others to be successful; they show willingness to work alongside with the other team members (Effective Leadership, 2001). In this essay it will be discussed how the different leadership and management styles of Oprah Winfrey in the media industry, Sergey Brin in the innovation industry and Bernard Arnault in the luxury fashion industry, are compared and contrasted, as well as how effective and suitable they are.

Bernard Arnault is the founder, chairman and CEO of the largest luxury group – LVMH. He founded the group in 1987 when he merged Moet Hennessy and Louis Vuitton. According to Forbes’ latest rankings Bernard Arnault is the 4th richest man in the world with an estimated net worth of 41 billion dollars and the 43rd most powerful person. For just one year he increased his worth with about $13 Billion (The Worlds Billionaires, 2011). The second leader discussed is Sergey Brin, co-founder and Technical director of Google Inc. has become one of the world leaders in the innovation industry and emerged the dot-com boom Google behind the partnership with Larry Page. (Porter, 2007) According to Forbes “Worlds Billionaires“, he is ranked on 24th with net worth value of 19.8 Billion. The first afro-American woman to emerge on Forbes’ millionaire list is Oprah Winfrey (Pizzello, 2011). She is the definitive multimedia icon. By March 2011 her personal wealth is anticipated to be around 2.7 billion us dollars (The World's 100 Most Powerful Women #3 Oprah Winfrey, 2011). Based on her career as a successful producer, host of the top ranked award winning the Oprah Winfrey Show, magazine founder, businesswoman and celebrity, Oprah Winfrey without doubt is influential.

Bernard Arnault is known for his aggressive business strategies. In order to take control over all the 60 brands LVMH’s chief executive acquired most of them through the stock markets. (Bawden, 2011). One of the proofs that Bernard Arnault is among the most successful business leader is the revenue of his company. A good illustration of his management style is his pursuit on the family-house Hermes. In October 2010 Mr. Arnault took a 20.2% stake in the brand. His Anglo-Saxon approach of doing business in France was the height of his “bad manners” says Mintzberg. In contrast Sergey Brin and Oprah Winfrey have a totally different strategy. Sergey Brin worked very hard on Brand Building. It seems that brand building was much more important to him than just revenues and profits. The strategy succeeds and it was a key asset in the subsequent IPO at the Nasdaq. The risk proved to be winning, and the innovative business model worked. On the other hand Oprah Winfrey’s management style is based on the strength of her belief in the importance of her team, vision and values (Goudreau, 2010). Most important is her contribution to upholding the principles of goodness and generosity as exemplified by her philanthropy efforts. (Pizzello, 2011).She is a powerful force- a unique leader, able to inspire broad based support across both class and race. “She is a remarkable businesswoman”, states Srini Pillay, CEO of executive coaching company NeuroBusiness Group and professor of psychiatry at Harvard University.

Oprah’s has a knack for being able to find best of the best when it comes to the staff she hires as well as the consultants she takes advise from. The same applies for the mentors she consults with (Goudreau, 2010). Oprah has proven wise and consistent in not letting her success eclipse the importance of her audience and her relationship to her consumer. She often includes her audience and solicits their feedback ensuring that they know she is listening. She at times is extravagant with her gifts though her strategy has proven itself in the loyalty of her audience, her staff, and the media at large (Goudreau, 2010). A key characteristic of Oprah’s leadership has been both in crafting the vision of her success and passing on that vision to ensure a laser like focus in its execution. The proof of this is in Oprah’s evolution from a talk show host to her becoming a powerful brand to ultimately her successful start up of HARPO productions Inc- a key contributor to her net worth (Goudreau, 2010). The company is engaged in developing content beyond her show catering to the broader media outlets. She is a public figure in her own right able to influence policy through her multiple charitable foundations as well as her OWN network (Riddell, 2010). According to Srini Pillay, CEO of NeuroBusiness Group, Oprah’s leadership has led to “the continuous creation of new growth platforms upon which to build families of businesses”. Oprah’s success hinges on the transparency between her values and her business objectives. Her living by example - “live your best life” is a message embraced by everyone. She has no qualms of criticizing unethical leaders and she is regarded as representative of everything which is good; her humor, optimism and generosity amongst other traits (Goudreau.2010). Oprah is known to often give to those who are in need on the show and this has lead to increasing her popularity and as Scott Testa, a professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, Penn has said: “She became a billionaire by spreading the wealth” (Goudreau, 2010).Oprah Winfrey remains relevant and her influence is unlikely to fade in media business, policy and philanthropy. Her management style is effective because she remains an inspiration to her fan base; succeeding financially, spiritually and socially despite the enormous challenges in her life (Oprah Winfrey Biography, 2010).

Similarly, Bernard Arnault is known for his ability to find great talents who manage to become the most significant people in fashion design and carry a whole brand’s image. “Our strategy is to have some stars—and there are not many stars in the luxury business. What is a star? It's a name that is the very best. It's a name that is very profitable. But the number of true stars is less than I can count on both of my hands” says Arnault. He personally hired John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci which are said to be some of the most creative minds of the past decade (Elliott, 2011). Their designs drove LVMH brands’ popularity high and increased their revenues. The company’s main revenue comes from sales of fashion products. However, it also produces and distributes wines, perfumeries and cosmetics, jewelry and watches and now holds over 60 world-spread brands (LVMH, 2011). Bernard Arnault is continuously growing his shares is the luxury house Hermes despite the fact that the three families that own it stated they do not want his presence in the business and they don’t plan working with him. Mr. Arnault says that his intentions are friendly and he just plans on helping the company increase their revenues. The CEO of the Hermes brand attacked LVMH’s methods in acquiring those shares (Milligan, 2011). Legal actions against LVMH have recently started. Its main rival – PPR company, which holds Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, etc., has much lower revenues during the last couple of years and the percentage of change in their revenue for 2010 compared to 2009 is much lower than the one of LVMH . These results show Bernard Arnault’s great long-term strategic planning abilities. (Christopher, 2010). The proof of his effective management style is not just the largest profit in the luxury segment but also his success in acquiring promising brands that he desires to add to LVMH’s portfolio and afterwards giving them outstanding identities.

On the contrary Mr. Brin developed Google from a smart algorithm to a totally new business model. Just in a few years he introduced ad-words and the pay per click concept a smart, innovative and quite risky business model. Today Google Inc main source of revenues is ad-words. Google became the world leading search engine, with winning applications such as Google Earth, Google Video, Google Maps, Google Translator, Google Chrome and Gmail. “Google, starting from scratch, has won the challenge against a giant like Microsoft and against the previous search engine market leaders Yahoo, Lycos, Altavista, Excite.” Says the Vertygot team. The business model of Sergey Brin is customer oriented. Google’s investors that generate profit are constantly informed that customers are their main concern. Part of their initiatives is to break away from the traditional conventional corporate structure. Mr Brin first and foremost allocated whatever profits that Google makes for developing search innovations for a better life for its customers. Google’s business model is catered to the wants and needs of customers and by offering them free online tools and applications and is said to be ahead of its time. Even though its IPO venture, Google has maintains its original business platform as it was conceptualized. Nowadays this platform more than ever has become the business trend of focusing on what is practical and useful to its customers. The key question is: why the Google Business Model is a winning Business Model? The answer is complex which involves factors such as a mix of smart decisions, excellent marketing strategy, great advisors, highly innovative and risky business model, and great products. The key reasons why the Google Business Model is winning are because Google has a simple, clear and clean user interface with no frills, just a logo with a search box, easy and fast to load, becoming the key features regarding the slow internet connections of the early years in the 21st century. Mr. Brin as well notes that Google has reliable search results. Other search engines were full with confusing useless features and useless links annoying banner ads which were heavy and slow to load. Compared to the bigger competitors who didn't have a clear perspective Google had a clear understanding on psychology of perception, and how the interaction eye/brain works. Sergey Brin determined says “If the user visits a search engine, what he wants to get is simply that: just a search engine which is fast and reliable. If the user wants a general portal, he goes to a portal, not to a search engine.”
(Vertygo Team Ranking on Google, 2010).

Our research clearly supports the continuing debate as to whether effective leaders are made or born. Are the abilities to influence, to innovate, and to outcompete innate within a leader; or are these skills simply forged in a series of lifelong challenges and experiences? We would argue that it is a mélange of sorts; a cocktail mix of both god-given talent as well as experience on the battlefield of life. Let’s also not ignore the importance of luck, and its hand in the destiny of leaders.

Essay words: 2 087

Bibliography:

1. Are Managers Leaders. (2011). Retrieved March 19, 2011, from http://www.exampleessays.com/viewpaper/6725.html 2. Bawden, T. (2011, March 8). LVMH’s Bernard Arnault persists in his pursuit of Hermes. Guardian. Retrived March 18, 2011, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/mar/08/mergers-and-acquisitions-retail 3. Christopher. (2010). LVMH raises its Hermes stake to 20%. Retrieved March 19, 2011 from http://pursuitist.com/style/lvmh-raises-its-hermes-stake-to-20/ 4. Daft, R. L. (2008). Leadership (5th ed.). South Western. 5. Effective Leadership. (2001). Retrieved March 15, 2011, from http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex1334 6. Elliott, H. (2011, March 9). LVMH’s Bernard Arnault moves up to No. 4 on Billionaires List. Forbes. Retrieved March 16, 2011, from http://blogs.forbes.com/hannahelliott/2011/03/09/lvmhs-bernard-arnault-moves-up-to-no-4-on-billionaires-list/ 7. Goudreau, J. (2010). How To Lead Like Oprah. Forbes. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://blogs.forbes.com/jennagoudreau/2010/10/22/how-to-lead-like-oprah-winfrey-own-rachael-ray-dr-oz-phil/ 8. HARPO Productions, Inc. (2011.) Retrieved March 16, 2011, from the Bloomberg Businessweek webpage: http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=23329078 9. Krulwich, S. (2011). Oprah Winfrey. The New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/oprah_winfrey/index 10. Milligan, L. (2011, March 7). No Love Lost. Vogue. Retrieved from http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/daily/110307-hermes-ceo-patrick-thomas-on-lvmh-b.aspx 11. Mintzberg, H. & Ghoshal, S. (2003). The Strategy Process: concepts, contexts, cases (4th ed.). Pearson Education Limited. 12. N.A., (2011). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from http://www.brighthub.com/office/projectmanagement/articles/107351.aspx?p=3#ixzz1Gft49lhE 13. Oprah Winfrey Biography. (2011). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from http://www.woopidoo.com/biography/oprah-winfrey.html 14. Pizzello, C. (2011). HARPO Productions, Inc. TIME. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187226,00.html 15. Porter, T.C. (2007). ”LEADERSHIP IN ACTION:LARRY PAGE, SERGEY BRIN AND ANDY STANLEY IN RELATIONSHIPS”. Retrieved March 15, 2011, from http://people.bethel.edu/~porter/GoogleStanley.pdf 16. Riddell, K. (2010). Oprah Winfrey Agrees to Host Show on Her New Network. Retrieved March 14, 2011, from the Bloomberg Businessweek webpage: http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=23329078 17. The World's 100 Most Powerful Women #3 Oprah Winfrey. (2011). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from the Forbes webpage: http://www.forbes.com/profile/oprah-winfrey 18. The Worlds Billionaires. (2011). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from the Forbes webpage:: http://www.forbes.com/wealth/billionaires 19. The Worlds Billionaires: Sergey Brin. (2011). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from the Forbes website: http://www.forbes.com/profile/sergey-brin 20. Vertygo Team Ranking on Google. (2010). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from http://www.vertygoteam.com/google_marketing_strategy.php 21. Yukl, G. (1989). Leadership in Organizations (2nd ed.). Prentice-Hull International.

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...21st Century Leadership Skills - Defined January 14, 2008 by Jeff Brunson A 21st Century Leader understands that if you want engaged employees, you must develop the individual. It is this understanding that leads the 21st Century Leader to a focus on self. Not a selfish focus - but a focus on self for the benefit of others. The Brunson Level II Coaching Program and the Brunson Leadership Development Program for Groups focus on the following key skills for Leadership effectiveness and organizational impact: 7 Skills for Leadership Confidence Personal/Professional Growth Management Skills Personal study and professional application is a must for you as a Leader in the 21st Century. How well you self assess and act on that assessment determines the quality of the goals you set and the effectiveness of your action plans. The impact you deliver is dependent upon how you integrate Leadership behaviors and implement on your strategies. Communication and Connection Skills How skillful a Leader communicates is a major factor of credibility. You must consistently communicate well one-on-one and in group settings. As Leaders, it is imperative that our communication is consistent and credible. We must be able to consistently create safety for dialogue and confidently confront issues. You approach performance management and succession management as key areas for consistent communication. Messaging Skills You are the message. Your Brand is the succinct version of that message.......

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Leadership

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