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Management and Leadership at Boeing

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of leadership in any organization, the major functions that a leader needs to fulfill must be identified. According to James Kouzes and Barry Posner, a leader should be able to: 1) model or develop key strategies; 2) inspire a shared vision; 3) challenge the process, 4) enable his or her subordinates to act, and 5) encourage or promote employees’ emotional well-being.1. This model is called MICEE. Though none of the Boeing managers we interviewed identified these tasks directly, Boeing managers are definitely trained and do perform these major functions and act as a leader.

Practice of leadership functions and tasks is apparent at Boeing by the policies and programs supported to promote leadership. The innovative policy of selecting a team leader indicates that Boeing leaders promote leadership skills and qualities among their team members so that they are motivated to perform better. Motivation stems from a Latin word “movere” meaning “to move” and is a “force” which removes boredom from monotonous tasks (Islam and Ismail, 344). There is great importance on motivation due to its powers to influence those psychological processes which are responsible in initiating goal oriented voluntary activities through encouragement, direction and perseverance.

Interview with another employee indicates that leadership at Boeing is optimal. The fact that people come first” in the organization indicates that leaders recognize the importance of people in the organization, which is the most important resource in any organization.

Each manager’s style of management may differ: for instance, Mr. Glass prefers a liberal approach. He always collaborates with the team while making decisions, He says, “It’s always a team decision. It has to be a consensus.” While Ms. DiTocco on the other hand advocates an authoritative style of management. These choices depend significantly on the nature of their work, because in some cases, the situation requires strict subordination and quick decision-making which can only be achieved through authoritative management.

It is critical to understand the differences between leadership and management. Leaders attach primary importance to creating and communicating a vision. They set directions for further development and make other people believe that organizational goals are feasible and achievable. Managers are engaged with procedural tasks such as budgeting, planning, or scheduling. Naturally, all of these aspects are essential parts of effective performance. Judging from the interviews, Boeing officials try to keep a balance between management and leadership.

Management and leadership are distinct from each other at Boeing and if employees fail to perform the company has the right to penalize by giving time off with no pay. By doing this, the management ensures that employees are motivated to perform to the best of their abilities but will also be liable to punishment if they fail to deliver.

Boeing stresses appropriate employee development and the teaching of leadership skills. Many managers have emphasized the unique features of the Boeing Leadership Center (BLC) because very few American companies have departments that offer extra training to workers.2

Boeing has a Leadership center (BLC) where leadership classes are help with presidents, vice-presidents and CEOs lecturing about business strategies and policies. Boeing also offers online training classes from time-to-time. Bowing lays great stress on customer ethics and clearly stresses that customer requirements are more important than the product being sold. Boeing also has several mock sessions which enable role play and provide practical experience at dealing with different situations.

Bowing also has several training courses and programs for managers in St. Louis campus. The program is unique with meals, entertainment activities, refreshments and even alcohol for participants. This is the greatest motivation for employees and they are tempted to enroll themselves in the training program. Incentives of this kind are unique and Boeing provides these unique facilities to its trainee employees so that they participate in training programs. So much so, that there is a waiting list for participating employees. Programs are held several times a year.

Boeing also has training programs for personality and stress management. Additionally, there are also psychology and counseling classes to deal with trauma or emotional problems in personal life.

At this center, Boeing managers and employees are provided with specific guidelines for improving or acquiring professional leadership skills. This is one of the reasons why Boeing constantly gains a competitive advantage over other firms.3

Nonetheless, some of Boeing policies are debatable, namely the source of power in this organization: Control at Boeing relies on reward and coercion but not on charismatic leadership. Undoubtedly, Boeing executives emphasize the importance of leadership, but practically all of them resort to compulsion to motivate their subordinates. However, a good leader is able to persuade his or her subordinates without threatening them with dismissal or fines. Ms. DiTocco says that Boeing has an official warning system, and if an employee receives a certain number of these warnings, that employee will be terminated. This approach to monitoring may be the only solution given the size and complexity of Boeing; however, this formal strategy contradicts the main principles of leadership, because a leader has to inquire into the causes of an individual’s behavior and help him or her rectify his or her mistakes4 This is by far the major flaw of Boeing’s leadership policies.

Analysis indicates that Boeing tries to offer opportunities for personal and professional development to managers and personnel. The company attempts to improve the leadership qualities of its workers and invests in its people with time and money in hope of strengthening their leadership skills. To improve its leadership training, Boeing could further strengthen its ties with employees by adopting a more flexible attitude toward its relationships with average employees. Coercion and reward should not be the major sources of power, because such strategies give only short-term incentives to the employees.

Works Cited

Islam, Rafikul, and Ahmad Zaki Hj. Ismail. “Employee motivation: a Malaysian perspective.” International Journal of Commerce and Management 18.4 (2008): 344.

Footnotes

  1. (Kouzes & Posner)
  2. Yost and Plunkett 17
  3. Hoskisson 73
  4. Northouse 113