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Suzanne de Passe at Motown Productions

In: Business and Management

Submitted By palaish
Words 2078
Pages 9
Table of Contents:

Executive Summary Page 2
Directional Leadership and Managerial Transitioning at Motown Page 5
Problem Statement Page 6
Data Analysis Page 6
Early Management of Motown Page 6
Passing the Baton Page 8
Key Decision Criteria Page 9
Alternative Analysis Page 9
Recommendation Page 10
Action and Implementation Page 10
Exhibits Page 11

Suzanne de Passé at Motown Productions clearly represents corporate achievement, diversification and the many facets and correlations between Management and Leadership and how they should be applied in the corporate/business sector; a major determinant being the canny ability of managers to alter their leadership style as a situation dictates.
Renowned producer, president, record and film Executive, Suzanne de Passé is credited as being the ingenious power source behind the rapid growth of the Motown industry headed by Berry Gordy. Gordy gave Suzanne free reign to develop the brand, which she was able to successfully diversify from a single music production to motion picture and film.
The aforesaid did not successfully evolve without its distractions, as initially the task seemed overwhelming. The question in the mind-set of the detractors was, “how will de Passé be able to steer this acclaimed company into a new era of diversification and rapid growth without losing the Motown mystique?” The problem statement thus indicated that the current operational structure was not conducive to its rapid growth, or to the new changing industry environment. There was an urgent need to review and revamp the company’s operational and cultural structures, which in turn, encouraged managers to become adaptable and able to adjust their leadership style to fit any given situation.
Additionally, de Passé showcased the difficulties associated and experienced with managers/leaders in the corporate world, who are not only of the black race, but who are also female. Suzanne faced the challenges at many junctures; however, she did not allow it to derail her in reaching her goals and objectives. She simply adapted to the situations as they presented themselves and adjusted her leadership styles accordingly.
In the Data analysis section, we see that gaining recognition and re-establishing the credibility of Motown was indeed quite an achievement. The growth, strategic direction, operational structure and recognition of some of the company’s weaknesses, along with its need for change were also identified. In building her staff and management complement, de Passé decided to hire and/or promote from previous and existing staff, opposed to bringing in popular named individuals. Additionally, she felt that the female composition of her staff aided in creating a distinctive atmosphere at MP. She encouraged open and frank communications at meetings and encouraged staff to share responsibilities, thus filling in for each other and jointly reviewing the progress of various projects. The shared responsibilities and consultation encouraged multiple executives to work and share ideas on a single project.
As with proven positive leadership traits, de Passé illustrated the importance of providing good coaching and development of the human resources. Additionally, it encouraged managers to treat fellow employees respectfully while simultaneously challenging them to achieve company objectives and goals. Team effort must also be encouraged as this engenders a strong bond/commitment to the organization and achievement of the organization’s overall goals and objectives. Once one feels a part of the team, the commitment level increases and so does productivity. She believed that the most important thing in leadership was balance and that with the right balance in making decisions, the objectives would be obtained.
Suzanne’s recognition as an outstanding Manager and Leader was brought about through her approach and ability, which transformed Motown Productions from producing a single production at a time to maintaining a wide range of production commitments simultaneously. She was strategic in her approach and began with identifying the target or objective to be achieved, which was followed up by applying the appropriate approach for reaching that target. This was then communicated to the Executive Team. In so doing, she was able to identify most of the company’s strengths and weaknesses and make the necessary adjustments.
Suzanne de Passé entered an industry generally dominated by males, nevertheless her capacity to provide powerful leadership, communication, and organizational skills along with a determined commitment to produce continuous high quality entertainment, was her driving success. She overcame both racial and gender stereotypes and she demonstrated a great ability to change and evolve in the industry. She eventually partnered with Gordy before venturing on to form her own company, de Passé Entertainment.

Directional Leadership and Managerial Transitioning at Motown

The following paper examines the leadership and management style of one of Americas most successful Production Companies, Motown. The examination is intended to highlight the crucial transitioning periods, with a view of show casing the important decisions made by executives to advance the growth and diversity of the company. What is important to take note of is not limited to just management style but an over view of the company’s business culture, and leadership demands during these periods.

Problem Statement
Suzanne De Passé (Exhibit 1) recognized that, the company’s needs were expanding with great demands. She realized that, much would be required of herself and her team to deliver on a number of crucial commitments while avoiding the challenges that would threaten the unity and commitment of her staff. Challenges like possible burn out, effective cost control measures and camaraderie among her staff were central to her concerns while attempting to maintain Motown’s growth and development.

Data Analysis
In 1959 Berry Gordy (Exhibit 3) established Motown Records, which later developed into America’s leading black owned record company. Motown’s unique sound was in demand by many in black America, which saw the company as an opportunity to overcome historical oppression through the expression of artistic talent. The success of Motown’s talent was displayed through such musical icons like The Miracles and the Marvelettes (Exhibit 2), Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, the Supremes, and Marvin Gaye just to name a few. Motown records also gained recognition and success through other ventures during its production history, films like Lady Sings the Blues in the 70’s and Larry McMurty’s “ Lonesome Dove” in the 80’s would provide successful diversification of the company’s business portfolio. Motown was subsequently sold to MCA records in 1988. The company’s impact remains a driving force of historical success in black America.

Early Management of Motown
Much of Motown’s success can be credited to the Business Culture and Management style of Berry Gordy. What is apparent is that, during the early history of the company Gordy structured his company’s procedure and policies around decisions made by him with little or no real input by other members of his executive team. This approach provided for control and structured growth driven by a single leader’s concept. An example of such policies came in the form of meetings, which were held every Friday. During these meetings he had three very simple rules, no producer could vote on his own record, he had the last say despite any majority vote from his team and most denigrating was the rule that, anyone more than five minutes late would be locked out of the meetings. This style, while harsh, proved to be beneficial in the era of the 60”s and early 70’s. The approach allowed for no burdensome bureaucracy, which resulted in swift adjustment when business demanded. What is important to note, is that in the years that followed the 60’s and 70’s, the company’s future would demand a change in style and directional leadership, if it was to remain viable to its producers and artisans alike.

Passing the Baton
In the late 60’s and early 70’s Berry Gordy was experiencing a litany of uprisings among its contractual artisans. The company parted ways with popular groups like Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Four Tops, Temptations and others who felt they were not being treated fairly by the company. As the company regressed in its management style, Gordy recognized the need for new direction and leadership within the company. His selection was simple and logical. He would place his trust and the future of the company under the directorship of his protégé Suzanne De Passé. De Passé, held a wealth of experience, and as such, understood what was needed to resurrect the company. After taking the position of President in 1980, she would see the company through a growth of $48 million over a period of six years. Much of Motown’s success over this period is attributed to the change in management and leadership style, along with the innovative ideas, which diversified the company’s product line. Gordy’s decision to give free reign to De Passé was what the company needed to change gears. This allowed for critical changes to the company’s human resource element, resulting in a team of female executives focused on a central goal through equal and respectful participation. De’ Passé believed in strong relationships indicating that Motown’s ability to grow and maintain quality depended on it. Equally notable was the change in attitude by artisans to the new leadership. De Passé made the artist a priority and the center of any production. She was clear on the importance of addressing their needs and concerns. De Passé’s management approach during this transition period has resulted, not only in the development and growth of Motown, but also in the expectations of her ability to advance and further develop the company. These were the concerns of the President after being recognized for reestablishing the reputation of Motown.

Key Decision Criteria
De Passé understood that the success to any transition in management style would be the ability to adjust quickly. This meant her team, while hesitant, would have to make the changes required to meet the labor and logistical demands needed to maintain multiple production commitments. Early implementation and sensitivity to the concerns of her staff would be crucial. De Passé had to ensure that her executives understood her commitment to them, while keeping them focused on the goal. A working formula would identify individuals capable of leading, placing them in the position to lead, and allowing them to lead while overseeing other production projects. Additional strategies would include complementing the staff with likeminded professionals in the industry capable of providing the support needed to bring about the desired success. Another crucial element would be to maintain the effects of cost overruns. Controlling the cost element was important to the overall achievement of the goal. This meant staff would have to be restricted to budget requirements.

Alternative Analysis
We have considered the options available to MP management and submit the following: 1. Maintaining MP’s current structure will not only ensure the quality of its production commitments, but has also, to this point, proven to be successful; However, as previously indicated there exist challenges, and in an effort to overcome these challenges they must consider an alternative to the current operations. We note that it is not practical to maintain continued growth as burnout was imminent. 2. Subcontracting or out sourcing will provide a guarantee on timely deliveries of production commitments. It will ensure that deadlines associated with these productions are no longer a concern for its employer Motown. This possible consideration is not without its setbacks. MP would have to weigh whether the timely delivery was worth risking the reputation of the company. It would appear that this option would not be the best choice for MP given its history with regard to personal and artistic details, on which its reputation was built. 3. Change the operational structure by dividing production commitments among executives.

In consideration of the options above, it would appear that for MP to maintain multiple production commitments, staff camaraderie, cost effectiveness, and the same quality of work, De passé would have to change the current operational structure by dividing commitments among its executives. This would ensure that all previous concerns held by the president would be addressed through reducing the participatory style of her executives and herself therefore allowing for others in the company to become more active in key roles designed to develop and maintain the growth of MP.

Action and Implementation
Step 1: Redefining the responsibilities of the executive team.
Step 2: Increasing the level of participation of all staff.
Step 3: Ensuring effective oversight and implementation of the process.

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

Exhibit 3

Leadership Essentials Suzanne de Passé At Motown Productions

Presented By Stephen Carroll, Raynard North, Chantal Palacious & Sherry Thurston

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