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Leading Change - Good Sports Scenario

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A shrewd, second century Chinese writer, Sun Tzu observed in his book that it was important to understand the motivation of neighboring rulers before entering into an alliance. He also knew that it was equally important to understand the terrain of a country before leading an army through it (Giles, 1910).

Managers who must use power and politics to coordinate and support the work of organizational members and to meet organizational objectives can use this same principle to good effect. Power and politics are usually adopted when there is a conflict over the best structure to adopt, best use of available resources, and the like. The potential for conflict rises when various types of personalities work together in an organization, as they often do.

According to McShane and Von Glinow, power is defined as the capacity of a person, team or organization to move others (McShane & Von Glinow, 2006). A leader who effectively uses power can dramatically affect his or her organization's environment. Peter Drucker summarizes the efficient use of power in the following eight practices:

* Identify what needs to be done?

* What is right for the enterprise?

* Develop and implement an action plan.

* Take responsibility for decisions.

* Take responsibility for communicating.

* Focus on opportunities

* Run productive meetings

* Think and Say "We" (Drucker, 2004)

All organizations face challenges especially in times of changes. Ultimately, the leadership skills and practices of executives can contribute to the success or failure of the company. An organization whose leaders effectively use power will run smoother and more productively. In the simulation, Good Sport represents an organization where the leaders display an exemplary model for the correct use of power through changing times and circumstances.

Organizational structure

Good Sport, based in Coral Springs, Florida, manufactures fitness equipment such as treadmills, bikes, steppers, and rowers. Ex-basketball star, Jason Poole, founded the company fifteen years ago and is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board. Marvin Wallace, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has driven the company forward in the last four years, with investments in improving the performance of the sales, production, and the research and development (R & D) teams. Marvin advocated the use of fitness equipment in hospitals. This move has brought good results for Good Sport and the company is now expanding to the neighboring states--Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Good Sport makes its products available for health clubs, hotels, and residential uses.

Organizational Culture

Good Sport's culture is primarily about contributing to society through promoting the benefits of fitness while working hard to drive the group's financial success and maintain diversity. A strong business culture can be an asset to a company's bottom line. Good Sport has been and is incredibly profitable because of its strong company culture. However, a strong company culture may limit the amount the company adapts as the business environment changes. Good Sport's strong company culture can become an issue at sometime in the future and stand in the way of company growth. The company's strong culture of commitment to the betterment of society can clash with profit seeking and this conflict can cause ethical dilemmas for some employees. Such ethical dilemmas can lead to job withdrawal for these employees causing them to distance themselves from their work and finally separate themselves from the company. (McShane& Von Glinow, 2005)

Are structure and the culture related and compatible?

Good Sport has very capable and even transformational leaders with a wide array of leadership skills such as emotional intelligence, integrity, drive, leadership, motivation, self-confidence and extensive knowledge of the fitness and sports business. The management team at Good Sport appears to perceptively perceive and regulate each other's emotional reactions to various proposed changes at the company. The management team also appears to have self-confidence in their leadership skills and possess the ability to achieve organizational goals in relation to the proposed changes. (McShane& Von Glinow, 2005).

An organization's culture has the potential to affect ethical conduct. It can also guide the conduct of its employees by embedding ethical values in its dominant culture. (McShane& Von Glinow, 2005) Good Sport appears to have embedded an open and above board way of dealing with internal issues in its organizational culture. All issues are openly discussed and there are no barriers such as secrecy to open and honest communication.

Ethical Problems

Organizational culture can also cause ethical problems when it exerts excessive control over employees. Although it is important that employees make decisions that are compatible with organizational objectives, and this alignment improves employee morale, loyalty, and longevity, some organizations tend to take over employee lives and deprive a person of individualism. (McShane& Von Glinow, 2005) At Good Sport the organization seems to recognize its employees' personal boundaries. Employees do not seem pressured to conform to strict company rules and are not asked to take work home which would intrude into their personal lives. Employees at Good Sport seem free to work and communicate in their own personal style and are allowed room for creativity and personal expression.

There are ways other than artifacts (the observable symbols and signs of an organization's culture) for further strengthening organizational culture. Five common approaches are the actions of founders and leaders, introducing culturally consistent rewards, maintaining a stable workforce, managing the cultural network, and selecting and socializing new employees (McShane& Von Glinow, 2005).

Good Sport continues to strengthen its culture through the actions of its leaders (they are open, honest, hard working and well respected by employees), using culturally consistent rewards (implementing enthusiastically offered employee initiatives) and managing their cultural network (honoring and respecting everyone's communication styles).

Good Sport's informal, diversified leadership styles combined with its management



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