Leadership and People Management


Leadership and people management are two terms used in management theories.

Leadership is about coping with change. Basically leadership is the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or a set of goals. Generally leaders develop a vision of the future and leaders establish direction by developing a vision of the future. Kayworth et al. (2002) opined that leaders align people by communicating the vision and inspiring the group to overcome the difficulties. Fundamentally management is about coping with complexity (Pauleen, 2003) Management is the way of implementing the vision and strategies, coordinating, staffing and handling day-to-day operations.

Leadership and people management theories provides knowledge, practical skills on leadership and people management in fulfilling the job role in current work environment such as how to motivate teams and how to manage the diversity and change.

Yukl (1989) opined that leadership is the ability to influence a group of employees to achieve a preset vision or goals. The source may be formal, such as that provided by the manager in an organization. Fundamentally management positions come with some degree of formal authority. An employee can assume that leadership is simply because of the position in the organization. Unfortunately not all leaders are managers and vice versa. Although managers are given certain formal rights, no assurance that managers will b able to lead effectively. Some degree of non sanctioned leadership is seen in many organizations. Non sanctioned leadership is the ability to influence a group of people that arises outside formal structure which is more important than the formal influence.

Organizations need strong leadership and people management team for optimal effectiveness. World has become dynamic today and a strong group of leaders are required to create a vision and mission statement for the organization and to inspire members to achieve organizational vision.

1.0 Leadership and organisational behaviour issues:

 As per the mentioned case study three major issues can be seen.

1.1 Top-down dictatorship style:

Top-down leadership style is the major issue in Apple.  As per the case study almost 100 employees have been anointed by jobs. Fundamentally a more democratic and bottom–up method is required in good organizational behaviour practice. Top-down approach is command and control management style (Kotterman, 2006). This approach presumes that only the boss has the right answers. Top down approaches deny people that input and diminishes extrinsic motivation. This leadership style exhibits a high degree of de motivation. According to the case study of Apple, as an outcome the employees are been anointed by the jobs. This type of behaviour can lead to a high level of non-performance.

On the contrary, Kotter (2001) suggested that trait theory differentiates leaders from non leaders by focusing on personal qualities and characteristics (Ghalayini and Noble, 1996). According to trait theory of leadership, charismatic, enthusiastic and courageous leaders can manage the team more effectively than an assertive leader. According to Capowski (1994) leaders’ exhibit two common traits- ambition and energy, these are part of extraversion. The assertive nature of extroverts is a positive but leaders need to make sure that they are not too assertive.

1.2 Arrogance toward employees:

The second rated red flag is arrogance toward the employees. Collins (2001) argued that arrogance is the main reason of non-performance. According to prior study interactions with arrogant leaders can be uncomfortable. Many jobs require the continuous involvement of employees with bosses. Workplace arrogance can be a serious problem. Arrogant behaviour can be a challenging problem to deal with since arrogant individuals consider own behaviour acceptable (Stoker et al. 2007).Arrogance is related to personality characteristics like narcissism, hubris and confidence. Peters and C.C (2007) suggested that normally managers typically have power over work assignments, promotions and performance management systems. As a result, the subordinate of arrogant managers is placed between a proverbial rock and hard place. The employee who says nothing is subjected to unrealistic demands and immense pressure, but the employees who does speak up is likely to experience back slash.

On the contrary Peters and C.C (2007) argued that behavioural theories can easily solve the problems existing in organizational behaviour in people management by initiating structure and consideration. Initiating structure is the extent to which a leader can define and structure his or her role and those of subordinate for goal attainment (Stoker et al. 2007). According to this theory specific behaviours differentiate leaders from non leaders by adopting mutual trust, respect for subordinates’ ideas and regard for their feelings. Again Collins (2001) opined that arrogance may lead to derail the career of manager also. Now a day’s 360 degree appraisal method, peer feedback etc has become essential in performance management system. An arrogant leader may face strong problems in appraisal process by employees only.

1.3 Companies obsession with secrecy:

According to the case study the employees have been fired who violated the company’s rules on keeping tight control over information.  The secrecy that Apple uses is to keep its product’s information from the competitors and the rest of the world. Every company has secrets, but the difference is that at Apple everything is secret. Secrecy at Apple is not just a prevailing strategy, but it is baked into the company culture. As a result Apple is missing many opportunities to tap the wisdom of the crowds. There is the effect of Apple’s secrecy o its workforce. Apple was running from problems in its supply chain. Shrouding shortfall in supply chain is totally unacceptable to customers, workers and the investors. Although Apple has projected the ultimate image as cool, but the actual scenario is cold and heartless. This results in a strong de-motivational factor to the employees.

2.0 Critical review of literature 

The main lagging point in the case study is the top down approach, arrogance and obsession with secrecy. All three factors can destroy to maximise companies output. By identifying and analysing a suitable framework the output can be maximised.

2.1 Management and leadership:

Fundamentally, leadership is a facet of management. The manager’s main aim is to maximize the companies output through proper administration (Yukl, 1989). To attain a maximum output managers can undertake following functions: organizing, planning, staffing, directing and controlling. On the contrary all managers cannot become good leaders. Peters and Manz (2007) opined that leadership is an important component of the directing functions. In some circumstances leadership is not required.

Attributes of good leaders are:

  • Good leader get a good sense of mission.
  • Good leaders are able to influence people to work together effectively.
  • Good leaders are decisive.
  • Good leaders are charismatic.
  • Good leaders always use problem solving method to promote a better work environment which is very necessary in people management.

A good manager ensures that day-to-day processes run well to produce the desired result (Peters and Manz, 2007).

Attributes of good managers are:

  • A good manager has clarity of tasks and purpose.
  • A good manager has good organisational skills.
  • A good manager has the ability to communicate the tasks properly.
  • A good manager has the ability to negotiate with various administrative issues.
  • Good manager fundamentally has good delegation skills.











Figure 1: People management factsheet

(Source: Nwlink.com, 2014)

2.2 Motivation:

Yukl (1989) opined that motivation is a driving force that consists of internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continuously interested and committed to achieve a goal. Different types of motivational factors can be implemented to achieve a strong commitment from employee’s end which includes:

Recognition: It is a great way to inspire employees to gain maximum output in future.

Rewards: According to the Collins (2001), reward can also be used as a motivational key. Rewards can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards are derived from individual where as extrinsic rewards are given by another person.

Coaching: Managers can use to inspire people by sitting with employees one by one addressing the challenges and opportunities at company and talk it through with the employees (Kotterman,  2006).

Performance management system: Pauleen (2003) opined that performance management system judges the employees performance after a certain time period and appraises employees according to the performance. It is a very important factor to motivate employees. After getting praised the employee feels his or her importance in organization leading in better performance.

2.3 International leadership:

International leadership means developing and advancing leadership knowledge and its practice worldwide (Stoke, 2007). Multinational companies are carrying the business in many other countries. It has become mandatory issue to gain knowledge regarding international leadership. It helps the managers to manage cultural differences. Cultural differences and different languages can be a barrier when leading a team remotely. According to the Collins (2001), managing an international team can be a different game altogether and it requires a different skill set.

2.4 Leadership theories:

In the early part of 20th century interest on leadership has been increased. These theories look at variables such as situational factors and skill levels. Different types of leadership theories are:

2.4.1 Great Man theories:

his theory assumes that leadership talent is inherent-the great leaders are born not made. Stoker (2007) opined that, these leaders are heroic, mythic, and destined to rise.

2.4.2 Trait theories:

In the opinion Peters and Manz (2007), people inherit certain qualities and traits that make them better suited to a leadership. On the contrary Kotterman (2006) argued that if particular traits are the key features it is not possible to explain people who possess those qualities but are not leaders.

2.4.3 Contingency theories:

Collins (2001) opined that no leadership style is best in all situations. Success depends on number of variables including leadership style, quality etc.

2.4.4 Situational theories:

According to this theory depending upon the situation the leaders choose the best course of action.

2.4.5 Behavioral theories:

According to this theory leaders are made not born. People can learn to become leaders through teaching and observation (Ghalayini and Noble, 1996).

2.4.6 Participative theories:

According to Peters and Manz (2007), the leaders encourage participation and contributions from team members and help group members feel more committed to the decision making process.

2.4.7 Management theories:

Management theories are also known as transactional theories. It focuses on the role of supervision, organization and group performance (Stoker, 2007).  Management theories are often used in business, employees are rewarded when successful, employees are punished when fails to achieve.

2.4.8 Relationship theories:

Relationship theories are known as transformational theories. These leaders motivate and inspire people by helping group members according to prioritized job. Leaders are focused on the performance of group members and these leaders are very ethical.

3.0 Evaluation of the leadership and organisational behavioural issues:

Apple is noted as the world’s second largest information Technology Company by revenue and third-largest mobile phone maker following Nokia and Samsung (Apple.com, 2014). However, as have been noted that the business have been affected by leadership issues at workplace. The major warning signs in its culture have resulted in staff dissatisfaction and operational problems. However, it is even to be kept in mind that   each of the leadership and people management strategies being currently followed at workplace is not wholly faulty by nature rather at times the same could prove to be beneficial for companies to  effectively channelize the joint potential of the workforce for attaining the vision. The primary warning sign in the current culture at Apple is its practice of top-down dictatorship leadership style. Goodworth (2008) mentioned that top-down dictatorship leadership style is characterized by little flexibility in decision making by the management and ensures that the rules are strictly followed by the subordinates. Keeping the reign of staff control in the hands of the management could have dual impact on the company’s ethos and satisfaction level. Contrary to the state of being where the staffs might feel free to give inputs during decision making, the follow of top-down leadership style might prevent whole hearted inclusion in company matters. Lewicki et al. (2006) determined that autocratic style creates an environment of fear and resentment resulting in hinder of progress and high turnover. If the bosses at Apple are not aware of the current issues affecting  smother working and staff satisfaction level, they would generally not be interested to give in creative inputs for company’s betterment. Also by constantly dictating the staff regards to the following a specific course of action, the staffs at Apple might feel de-motivated and not brainstorm newer ways to handle situations. However, autocratic leadership style is not wholly faulty. Mayer et al. (2010) opined that in situations of stress, staffs might prefer autocratic leadership style. Also by following this specific leadership style, the management of Apple might be secured from lengthy debates and arguments. Thus, the strategic decision to follow top-down approach at the workplace of Apple would help its staffs top focus on a single task and follow  the strictly follow the specified rules to become proficient enough to grow the company.

The second cultural issue affecting the smoother operation of Apple is arrogance towards its employees. Amabile et al. (2006) pin pointed that arrogance brings about a feeling of pride and selfishness that adversely impacts the surroundings and heightens the superiority complex among oneself. The current practice at Apple where staffs are viewed with a degree of disdain and are made to solely concentrate on nothing but work could generate negative feeling and dissatisfaction among the members. Post the departure of Jobs, the same dissatisfied feelings could continue to stay among the psychological state of its staffs that could limit their inner drive to maintain healthy workplace relation. However, arrogance has power to raise self-esteem among the individual. Barry and Stewart (2007) determined that for practice of effective leadership and people management, it is necessary to be able to secure the high self-esteem and have belief in own knowledge. Thus, the practice of arrogance towards the staff of Apple would infuse confidence among the individual in the management level that they are sure to aptly guide the staff towards better operation and attaining organizational aim.

The final critical issue affecting the culture of Apple is its obsession with secrecy. Although Apple have used “secrecy” as a strategy to not let the competitors know about the sensitive and crucial information, it could also adversely impact its brand image or corporate governance matters. Carson et al. (2008) identified that company law specifies the importance of reveal of all company matters and transaction to the public in their prospects or other sources. In the view of the current significance of reveal of corporate matters, Apple’s obsession with secrecy might result in dissatisfaction among the stakeholders. Also the late admit of problems in the supply chain might be a sudden trouble for the stakeholders. The stakeholders might not be able to decide as what to do in such sudden  issues. Non disclosure in the act to maintain transparency over pollution issues during collation with Chinese groups might even lower brand image and make the brand to be wrongly perceived by the consumers, workers and the investors. However, Day et al. (2010) criticized that over-communication might often lead to miscommunication and lose of control regards misuse of the revealed information in harmful manner. By limiting the flow of information to the public, Apple planned to keep tight control over company details, develop interest among the consumers and also prevent any occasion of miscommunication to impact its brand image.

The possible reason behind the practice of the autocratic leadership style might prevent any occasion of mismanagement or unnecessary debates, but Eisenbeiss et al. (2012) mentioned that the dynamics of the relationship in professional environment must change to become equal. Complete change over to democratic leadership style might not be proper, especially during times of stress that requires stringent follow of a unified course of action. Top-down leadership style may make the leader strong but no follower. However, democratic or free-reign leadership styles might not always be suitable as the same involves fully fledged participation of the staff in all decision making matters (Hiller et al. 2006). It could thus result in loss of management control on decision making or at times result in time loss in quick redress of any grievance or other significant matters. It is rather essential for the management of Apple to alter leadership style and people management policies as per the need if the situation and even try to practice bottom-up communication approach to involve all (and not only top 100 staff) in decision making.

 Although arrogance towards the employees of Apple might develop self esteem among individual and force the staff to follow the perceived appropriate course of action, it often results in staff dissatisfaction. Barry and Stewart (2007) mentioned that in the act of making the people know that one is superior, it is not required to be arrogant by nature, rather follow a strict arrogance protocol. By being approachable, sincere, humble and forthcoming, the management of Apple could ensure smoother follow and implementation of a specific work procedure. The latter steps would motivate the staffs to at once accept the work procedure without being felt down or ‘just an employee’ of the concern.

To strategically overcome the issue concerning to “obsession to secrecy” is required to be dealt in manner that does not hamper the company’s brand image at the same time, the stakeholders are aware of the practice of corporate governance at workplace. Lewicki et al. (2010) attributed that while there are benefits to going public, the business should keep in mind the responsibilities/duties related to informed decision making for the interest of the business. Like the strategy of Microsoft to build their market reputation by the practice of all related policies, Apple is required to abide by all ethical issues (transparency in operation, disclosure of necessary details, pollution and other control measures). However, Mayer et al. (2010) identified the importance for an organization to be sure of not involving in over-communication or misinterpretation of information.  So as to not hamper the brand image, Apple could follow a policy of not divulging any crucial details rather focus on informing all the customer or corporate governance matters to the mass. However, it is required for Apple’s management to identify the authenticity and relevance of all information’s before it is made public.

4.0 Conclusion and Recommendations:

4.1 Conclusion:

The current people management process of Apple could be considered not to be too effective in motivating the staff towards better performance. The theories studied by past authors on international leadership or management policies have focused activities concerning the best policy practice of being able to involve the staff in decision making and make motivate them to be as creative in giving inputs and meeting job performances. The current workplace culture of Apple falls behind that of its competitor: Microsoft. Although both companies are concerned about ways to build their brand reputation, their strategies differ widely. Follow of top-down approach, obsession with secrecy and arrogance towards the employees are few of the cultural issues that are currently impacting the workplace of Apple.

However, the advantages of the current leadership and people management strategies followed at Apple cannot be completely overlooked. Like obsession with secrecy might prevent any occasion of misuse of company details, the follow of top-down approach helps in quicker decision making especially during times of emergency. Nevertheless, the disadvantages related to each of the chosen strategies could impact the mind set and smoother work pattern and communication process at workplace. It would be rather required for the management of Apple to abide by suitable recommendations (mentioned below) to tide over the current issues and rather be able to practice effective leadership and people management policy at its work.

4.2 Recommendations:

As a recommended effort to overcome the current cultural issues at Apple’s workplace, it is required for the company to be more oriented towards people and brand image development module rather than systems. Carson et al. (2008) identified the importance of respecting cultural values and show particular concern for the well-being of the employees and the consumers. As a strategic remedy to the improper practise of autocratic leadership style and arrogance towards the employees, it is necessary for Apple to promote a culture of partnership working based on the following values:

  • Openness
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Compassion
  • Mutual trust
  • Respect
  • Equality

Barry and Stewart (2007) pin pointed that by the follow latter policies at work, the management would be able to promote leadership at all levels and practise effective staff management throughout their product/service delivery. Openness, integrity, fairness and respect would ensure the flow of bottom-up communication process wherein the staffs would be allowed to give in necessary inputs. The probed of arrogance could be eradicated by the follow of respect and equality for all internal stakeholders. And, by ensuring fairness in dealings, the management of Apple would make sure to practise transparency in operation and effective corporate governance in all its target market areas.

However, the management at Apple is even required to abide by the following leadership and people management policies to overcome its current practise drawbacks:

  • Lead to win:

In order to ensure the follow of a balance work life, the management of Apple is required to practise coherent action that would lead to effective leadership and achievement. Goodworth (2008) identified the importance of the management to think from different perspectives and develop a culture of innovation. Thus, the same should understand that the staffs is not content with the follow of top-down approach or excessive arrogance and thus should work towards fowling a balanced leadership style and project good staff behaviour.

  • Grow talent and teams:

Lewicki et al. (2010) determined the importance of leaders to be able to develop an environment where the staffs develop personal commitment to their work and promote company’s success. The parties of talent teams could even help in increasing motivation and prevent dissatisfaction (that is currently not present at Apple). Thus, the management of Apple could strategise to build team work culture and practise learning and development in order to be allow them to progress at work and expand their capabilities.

  • Compete and connect externally:

Goodworth (2008) acknowledged the importance for company’s management to constantly look for ways dealing with stakeholder satisfaction. Thus, as not to be too obsessed with maintaining secrecy, the management of Apple should opt for customer relationship building strategies (such as disclosure of relevant information’s) to attract current and potential investors. The choice of current policy would thus help in practise of effective internal leadership and people management for Apple.



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