LEADERSHIP THEORIES AND APPLICATION is a process of influencing followers or subordinates in order to achieve the specific goals and targets of the organization. Effective and successful leaders have always some unique qualities which inspire followers and compel followers to follow the leader. Leadership qualities always differ from one leader to another but it has seen that all the successful leaders have some common qualities. The style of leading subordinates or followers also differs among the leaders due to their approach towards the targets, style of leading, and personal attributes.
The purpose behind writing this report is to explore and review the leadership theories and practices in any prestige organization like Xerox. First, I have discussed two leadership theories including the trait theories and contingency theories in detail. Then, I check the applicability of these theories at Xerox. The main cornerstone of this report is to evaluate the leadership theories which Xerox is practicing at present and whether these leadership theories are suitable for the Xerox under the current prevailing situation and environment.
After an evaluation of the current leadership theories, I have proposed some new leadership theories for Xerox because current leadership strategies will not be meet the future requirements of the Xerox. The reason for proposing some new leadership strategy includes the changing nature of the market, technological changes in the world and the Acquisition of Affiliated computer services (ACS) by the Xerox. Recommendations are also given for the Xerox that how it can manage its employees’ satisfaction and motivation and how to make them always motivate and committed to the organization.
In 1906, Xerox was found in Rochester, New York, the US which initially manufactured the photographic paper and related equipment. When Xerox started its operations, its original name was Haloid Photographic Company then changed its name to Haloid Xerox in 1958 and then finally changed its name in 1961 as simply Xerox.
In 1959, the company introduced the Xerox 914, manufactured by the Chester Carlson who used the process of Electro-photography and manufactured the first plain paper photocopier machine. Xerox 914 boosted the sales of the Xerox and at the end of 1965; the company revenues roused to $500 million. Xerox sold more than 200000 units of Xerox 914 form 1959 to 1976. Xerox first floated its common stock (XRX) in New York Stock exchange in 1961. In the 70s, Xerox manufactured the Sigma line of 32-bit mainframe computers after the acquisition of the Scientific Data Systems in 1969.
Xerox researcher, Gray Starkweather invented first commercially available laser printer by modifying a Xerox copier machine in 1969. Under the tenure of the Archie McCardell, nominated as the president of Xerox in 1971, company introduced the first color copier and also under his reign, company earned the record revenues and profits in 1973-75. The era of the 1980s and 1990s was the time when Xerox brought technological changes in the design, quality, and manufacturing approaches of the product. Xerox became the member of the Chicago Stock Exchange and floated its common stock in 1990. Tektronix color printing was acquired by the Xerox in the year 2000 which helped the Xerox in gaining the competitive advantage in Xerox solid ink printing technology.
Today Xerox is the world’s largest technology and Service Company which provides the black, white and color document processing printers, multifunction’s photocopier machines, Scanners, document management consulting services, and outsourcing services. Xerox headquarter is in 45 Glover Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut shifted from Stamford, Connecticut in 2007. Xerox is operating worldwide in more than 160 countries of the world and has employed more than 53600 people all over the globe. Xerox ranked as 147 in the fortune 500 companies. In 2009, company revenues were $15.2 billion. Ursula Burns became the CEO Xerox on 1 July 2009. She is the first African American Woman who is leading the corporation of the size of Xerox.
In 1988, Darwin Deason founded the Affiliated Computer Services Corporation. Earlier it provided the services of the data provider to the financial services industry then it increased its services portfolio to the travel and transportation, education, healthcare, insurance, communication, manufacturing, and retail industries. Southland Corporation signed the 10-year contract with the ACS for the data processing outsourcing (Official website ACS, 2010). This deal between the ACS and Southland Corporation expanded the operations of ACS beyond the banking services.
In the year 1995, ACS converted into the public limited company and left the bank data processing services. ACS became the fourth largest commercial outsourcer of the USA in the FY 1996. Now ACS is famous for its Transportation Solution Group which managed the transportation aid services consist of the parking system, electronic toll collection, photo traffic enforcement and management of cities.
ACS headquartered is in the Dallas, Texas and now it is the global leader in providing its diversified business process outsourcing services which include the human resources, transaction processing, finance, customer care, and information technology services all over the globe to thousands of corporations, non-profit organizations, and governments in more than 100 countries. ACS has employed more than 74000 employees worldwide and was at raked 401 in the Fortune 500 in 2009. Its revenues were $6.2 billion in 2009 and its current CEO and president is Lynn Blodgett.
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Xerox announced to acquire the ACS on 28 September 2009 and finally Xerox acquired the Affiliated Computer Services Inc. for cash and stock transaction of the $63.11/share or $6.4 billion as the closing price on September 25 of the Xerox stocks in the first quarter of 2010. Xerox will give the $18.60 per share in cash to ACS shareholders and in addition, also will give the 4.935 Xerox shares to every shareholder of the ACS who will hold the one ACS share. Xerox will also issue $300 million convertible proffered stock for ACS’s Class B shareholders under the terms of an agreement (Official website Xerox, 2009).
We recognized that for ACS to expand globally and differentiate our offerings through technology, we needed a partner with tremendous brand strength and leading innovation. Xerox offered that and more. The combination brings our business to the next level while strengthening theirs.” Lynn Blodgett, ACS CEO and president Officially published, (2010).
This acquisition has also made the Xerox the market leader in the diversified BPO services along with their core services of business document management. This acquisition will accelerate the growth of the Xerox and will help in earning more revenues in near future. Xerox and ACS acquisition brings them lots of opportunities for the companies and will also bring so, many challenges relating to the operations and management of the business. In order to effectively managing the challenges like Human resource related issues which will have aroused due to an acquisition of ACS, Ursula M. Burns will need to apply all its experience, knowledge and leadership skills to lead the organizations in an effective way. These challenges will test the leadership skills of the Ursula M. Burns because Xerox and ACS are different organizations altogether and Ursula has only worked with Xerox since she started its professional life (Official website Xerox, 2009).
“By combining Xerox’s strengths in document technology with ACS’s expertise in managing and automating work processes, we’re creating a new class of solution provider,” said Ursula M. Burns, Xerox CEO Officially published, (2010).
There are so many leadership theories are presented by different persons and now are following by different organizations of the world depending upon their situation and need. The theories which I have chosen for the explaining in this report are trait and contingency theory.
- Trait theory
- Contingency theory
This leadership theory assumes that people have certain abilities, skills, and traits that are inherited to them and which makes them more suited to leadership as compared to other persons. This theory mainly focuses on behavioral and personality characteristics of leaders. The qualities concerned for leadership exist in abundance and with age, these qualities continue to be produced (Mark, 2010). These traits can be described as all the adjectives in the dictionary from ambition to zest. The evolution of this theory was based on that critical trait required for leadership can be identified and only those people having such traits will then be recruited and hired for leadership posts. According to this theory, a leader that is not having these traits cannot be called a leader (Stogdill, 1974).
Also, there is no such an example of any leader who was lacking these traits.
Taking the example of Margaret Thatcher, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, she was having a high level of confidence, committed to her goals and accurate & timely decision making an approach.
This theory is based on some assumption which are:
- People are born with inherited traits
- Some traits suit particularly to leadership
- Good leaders have a right combination of traits
In various trait studies, some traits appear more frequently than other like friendliness, motivation, technical skills, cooperation, emotional control, charisma, and intelligence. From these traits the most attractive and affect-lasting trait is charisma.
Stogdill (1974) describes the following traits and skills that are mandatory to be a leader.
Leadership Skills and Traits (Stogdill, 1974)
Although the trait theory is not conclusive as traits can’t be measured. Further, if we discuss the studies of McCall and Lambardo (1983), they identified four primary traits that specify a leader as successful or derailed. These four traits are;
- Emotional Stability and Composure: (A leader should be calmed nature, confident and predictable especially when working under stress.)
- Admitting error: (A leader should have the courage to accept his/her mistake instead of doing efforts to cover them up.)
- Good interpersonal skills: (A leader should be able to treat all types of people at all levels of hierarchy.)
- Intellectual breadth: (A leader should have a broad vision rather than having narrow-mindedness and should possess intellectual abilities.)
Summing up the findings of McCall, it can be stated that a leader should have those specific traits which distinguish him/her from the rest of people and for this purpose a person’s inherited abilities, skills and traits are vital and of utmost importance (Mark, 2010).
Trait theories have an emphasis on personality. Personality is described in terms of traits and there are nearly unlimited numbers of potential traits that are used to describe personality. In an organization, leadership follows these theories and while explaining the application of these theories in an organization we will evaluate these leadership theories (Stogdill, 1974)
This theory of leadership states that leadership depends on environmental variables that suggest which type of leadership is required according to the situation, followers’ needs and psychology. The situation determines which leadership style is required that best fulfills the situational needs. So it can be said that no leadership style is best in all situations. So it can be said that this theory assumes a leader’s ability to lead is dependent on situational factors which also included behaviors of followers, capabilities, skills and leadership style. These theories are based on behavioral theories and it suggests that there is no one best way to lead in all the situations and a leader has to mold him according to the situation if he wants to be a successful and effective leader. Otherwise, it may happen that a leader that is best in a situation may take an unsuccessful decision in changed satiation also this theory explains the failure of some leaders in changed environment and odd situational factors. The three most famous contingency theories are;
- Fiedler’s Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) Theory
- Cognitive Resource Theory
- Strategic Contingencies Theory
Fiedler proposed a way to check whether a leader is task focus or people focus. For this purpose he developed a Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) scoring for leaders, in this way he proposed to think of a person with which they have worked and then to score the person on positive factors (friendly, cheerful, helpful etc) and negative factors (Unfriendly, Gloomy, not helping etc).
High LPC leaders have close relationships and are supportive and even prioritizing relation over the task. Low LPC leaders are task oriented and that only goes for relationships when they are satisfied with the work.
This theory assumes that intelligence and experience are factors in success for leaders. It also assumes that stress affects decision-making ability (Fiedler, 1987). This theory states that;
- A leader is only performing well when the leader’s approach is directive.
- Stress is the basic factor that creates distortion between intelligence and decision quality
- Experience is highly appreciated while making decisions in stressful situations,
- If tasks are simple then the leader’s intelligence and experience is irrelevant.
Taking this theory in one line it can be said that intelligence is helpful when there is a low–stress situation while experience helps a lot in high-stress situations (Fiedler, 1964).
This theory states that a leader should acquire the required problem-solving skills of the concerned job for which he/she is in the organization mostly at centrality position. It can be said that a good leader should have a hold on problem-solving skills, and work at centrality and leader should have or should have acquired skills that are unique to him/her (Fiedler, 1964).
If a leader has these qualities they will give him/her an upper hand while negotiating at organizations or with higher authorities. Working at a central position is vital for a leader and it gives many opportunities to learn and understand the environment and find the problems that could arise and make solutions for solving those problems (Fiedler, 1987). It means if you fail to do your part at a job, the whole company’s show will be affected and it gives you the responsibility of task completion and opportunity for creating attention and giving you bargaining power.
Taking an example of procurement manager (centrality) and he knows all the complexities very well (uniqueness) as he is having a long experience so he will be better able to solve the problems as they occur both regarding procurement and unions (Fiedler, 1987). This gives a procurement manager an upper hand and makes him successful as he is molding himself according to situational factors and hence catering the best to the organization.
An organization is established as a mean to achieve the goals and objectives. For achieving these goals and objectives these are subdivided into smaller goals and target for which then managers do work. As they achieve their respective goals and targets it gives the completion to organizational goals and objectives. Leadership is a vital thing for managers to effectively achieve their performance targets.
As we have described two leadership theories in previous pages we will discuss their application to the organization. Leaders emerge within the organization because of having leadership traits and other qualities.
Application of these theories includes that how the Xerox is following these theories in its organization and now also in the ACS after its acquisition. Xerox is a company whose major focus is on Document Technology and it is having the strong brand image and standing in the market as it is working since last many decades and providing Document Solutions to their clients. Now by acquiring ACS which is well known for managing and automating work processes for clients that are spreader all over the globe, Xerox has become a market leader in BPO and also it is supposed that Xerox’s business will expand as it will become a new solution provider by coupling Document Technology and managing work processes and it will give recognition to ACS too.
Xerox employees are very satisfied with the leadership and the organization which can be seen via the example of Ursula Burns who has just worked in one organization in her entire professional career. It shows the satisfaction and motivation of the employees at Xerox
Xerox leaders always give the directions to the employees; leaders of the Xerox are born not made to say this is not wrong as Xerox current president Ursula Burns is a leader who was born to become the leader.
These leadership theories apply to all organizations hence to Xerox. Leaders at organizations are those who come under criteria specified in these theories. As we discussed trait and contingency theories CEO of Xerox Ursula is having the trait leadership as well as intellect and expertise.
Ursula M Burns has a bright and glowing past since joining the Xerox. She is a great leader and through her leadership skills he is managing the Xerox and can manage the ACS too. She has experience of product Development and planning that will give her an upper hand in developing business for ACS. As discussed in strategic contingencies theory under contingency theory, experience, centrality, and uniqueness help a leader to be successful. Ursula is having all these traits (Barbuto, 2005). She had also led Business teams that shows her traits for the leadership she has also been responsible for Global Product Development also she has strong hands-on experience in IT, Corporate Strategy, Human Resource, and Global Accounts so she can manage all the matters regarding the operation of the company. Her leadership skills are also visible through her leadership counseling to the community.
ACS is basically a Business Process Outsourcing company which is different from Xerox which focuses on Document management Technology. But as leaders with good characteristics are there the operations of ACS will be managed very effectively. For pointing out the leaders in ACS they can use these leadership theories as we discussed Least Preferred Co-worker theory and other theories will be helpful in this regard. The managers having intellectual abilities and expertise are also of utmost importance for the company as they have problem-solving skills and can make good decisions under stressful situations. A leader who archives the targets and goals mainly focuses on creating good teams because team or followers are the only way to achieve the specified targets and objectives. Here are some guidelines for such a team that can achieve targets easily and with passion.
- There must be unity in the team
- Team members should have interpersonal skills so each one can contribute
- Members should have the ability to work for a common goal.
Leadership qualities for Ursula are discussed and we found her a great leader. She knows how to make product development and planning strategies and also has much experience in many fields. When she started her career she had many leadership traits that helped her work and prosper in an organization, with time she acquired experience and using her intelligence she reached such a high level of authority. So it strengthens the trait theory and contingency theories. Every strategy has some positives and negatives but if positives are greater in number so we can say it is a good theory. While evaluating the leadership theories it should be kept in mind that theories can be modified and can be made best with findings and time spent on applying those theories. Same is the case with leadership theories. These theories are suitable for the present situation of Xerox as it describes that Ursula has some inherited qualities (Trait Theory) and during her job she acquired so much experience and can handle matters as per situations (Contingency theories)
In trait theory, there are some factors that should be considered while studying and applying the trait theory. First, it does not distinguish between those leadership traits that are constant and those that are shaped by time. Secondly, it just focuses on a small set of individual attributes/traits and neglects the motives, values, social skills and cognitive abilities. Lastly, it does not consider the patterns of multiple attributes.
In contingency theory, there is also the reservation that leader has to mold himself according to the situation and then use his intellect and experience to solve the problems and lead towards specified goals.
As Xerox will be acquiring ACS these theories will have the same application. It will not distort the performance of any one of these two yet will enhance the performance. But it is true that it will have a pressure on Ursula as she has to manage somehow a different product line but her leadership skills will make her prove again as she had a vast experience of pressure handling. Her experience will help her in making decisions in the high-stress situation while her intellectual abilities will help her in low-stress situations Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, 2007). Also, she is at the central position and having the experience and also has the unique qualities of product development and leadership counseling so she can manage the matters of ACS after an acquisition.
After the detailed analysis of the Xerox and its leadership strategies, I am recommending both long-term and short-term actions, which Xerox should take or implement in order to make the leadership more effective and which should help the Xerox in managing or leading their human resource satisfaction and motivation.
Foremost, I will recommend the Xerox that it should manage the issues of the human resource of the Affiliated Computer Services because after the acquisition, these employees will have some doubts related to their future and the will be very concern about the future of the ACS. Xerox should entrust the employees of ACS that their future is secure and the future actions of Xerox will have a positive effect on their well being.
It is important for the Xerox that employees should be motivated and satisfied because it has a great impact on the efficiency of the employees. If the employees will satisfy then Xerox will perform better and having a satisfied workforce is considered as the competitive advantage. Because, if the employees will not be satisfied then it will cost to the Xerox in the form of absenteeism, turnover, low productivity and higher recruitment and training cost (Barbuto, 2005)
Employee’s satisfaction surveys should be introduced at the workplace and results can be used for the betterment of the Xerox and its employees.
Leader (manager) of Xerox should communicate its followers everything which is directly or indirectly have an effect on the employees because communicating these things increase the commitment of the workforce towards the organization and they feel their self as the part of the organization. Communicating about the purpose of the existence of the organization will give the clear idea that what the leader wants from us.
Leader (manager) of Xerox should always encourage its employees that they should give their input and key innovative ideas to the organization and their leaders for the betterment of the organization. Xerox needs to bring more creativity in its product to deliver the innovative products and services to the customers and usually, creativity comes via employees. So, it is the responsibility of the leader to create such environment in the organization that employees could feel no hesitation in contributing their creative and innovative ideas for the benefit of the organization and ultimately for their being.
Leadership style also has very significant in leading the employees, because employee’s satisfaction and motivation is closely correlated with the style. Xerox should adopt the all the leadership styles because every situation should be dealt differently like where the decision affects the employees there should use democratic leadership style in the organization where everyone has the right to give his input and sometimes autocratic style should also use due to the secrecy and urgency of the decision. ACS is the BPO company here Xerox should continue its previous leadership style which encourages team works and empowered employees.
Every individual is different from other, so leaders should understand these individual differences and manage every employee differently. These differences and workforce diversity always help in bringing the creativity and pool of new ideas in the organization. So, Xerox should promote and encourage the diversity in the organization.
Xerox is an equal employment opportunity employer and they must also advertise this when recruiting job candidates. Establish hiring practices should be based on merit without considering age, race or ethnicity, gender. In that way, they can attract the most qualified, knowledgeable and competent employees. These knowledgeable and competent employees are like the asset for the Xerox because skills and knowledge of staff are crucial for Xerox innovation process. Most of the innovative ideas come through the employees and time is changing so quickly that every technology and change become obsolete in no time. So, it is important for the Xerox that its employees remain up-to-date with the knowledge and changes to compete in the industry.
Xerox needs to use innovative approaches to the recruitment and selection process (Alan, 2008). Xerox can minimize the chances of wrong selection by adopting the new and innovative techniques for the selection which includes the job analysis and job design.
After the completion of the selection process, Xerox should arrange the training of its employees because it is risky to put the employee on job directly after selection without attending any training classes and practices. Xerox can provide the on-job training to its employees or can arrange the training or coaching classes. This training will help the employees in better understanding and performing the job.
Xerox is also among those companies who provide the excellent after sale services to its customers. Providing after sale services is as important for Xerox as manufacturing the vehicles. Xerox also cannot provide satisfactory and excellent after-sale service without the cooperation of the employees and employee’s satisfaction is dependent on how well the organization leads its employees.
It is a big challenge for all the businesses to manage their human resource. The focus on managing the effectiveness and maximizing the value of a workforce is a critical performance management imperative of this age. Importance of Human resource cannot deny. Organization’s efficiency can be disrupted by the workers if they leave the cooperation in the production process and quit their job. The employee’s motivation and satisfaction is a concern for every organization because it has a greater impact on the productivity of that employee.
Organizational efficiency and its goals are hugely dependant on the leadership of the organization as leadership has a significant impact on the efficiency of the employees, satisfaction, motivation, and morale. Every employee in the organization needs a person who could lead them and will assist them in performing their job. Leader’s importance becomes more valuable when the organization is facing any drastic change like the Xerox has acquired the ACS and now here is the big issue for the Xerox is to manage the employees of both organization effectively to attain their desired objectives and targets.
In contrast to the effective leadership, if in any organization leadership will be poor then it will have a very negative effect on the employees. Employees who are dissatisfied with the leadership are tending to be very low motivated, dissatisfied and not eager to listen to the leader and ultimately organizational didn’t able to achieve its target. These dissatisfy employees mostly remain the absent, quarrel with other employees, and not take interest in their respective jobs.
At the end of this report on the leadership at the Xerox, after the evaluation of the leadership theories which are practicing at the Xerox, I have found that importance of the leadership is very significant for the Xerox and their leaders Ursula M. Burns is one of the charismatic and visionary leaders which has lead the Xerox. Leadership theories which Xerox is implementing should overview after the ACS acquisition because now Ursula M. Burns need to make some adjustment in the current leadership theories and have a proper check and balance of its implementation.