Leadership is a phenomenon which is considered to be diverse and multi-faceted, various theories have evolved since its inception. Leadership is different from management, it is about leading a group of individuals who are likely to follow the leader (Badshad, 2012). An efficient leader is the one, who has all the capabilities, skills, traits and right set of behaviors. Therefore, businesses needs efficient leaders to sustain and grow, various styles of leadership is adopted by leaders, including charismatic, transactional, visionary and transactional, however, situational leadership is an emerging concept of the 21s century (Cleskey, 2014), and is widely acknowledged by various scholars. Blanchard, (2008), labelled it as a best leadership approach, which according to him represents four different leadership styles.
The case study will demonstrate and analyze a leadership style of a contemporary CEO, the firm selected is from the list of Fortune Magazine’s 100 best companies to work for. The chosen leader for the study is Mike DeFrino, who is a CEO of Kimpton Hotels ; Restaurants, which is a renowned name in hospitality industry and the business has scored sixth rank in the Fortune Magazine’s listing for best employers (Fortune, 2018).
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
Mike DeFrino is the Chief Executive Officer of Kimpton® Hotels & Restaurants, the hotel is an American brand and pioneer in offering the concept of luxury boutique hotel (Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant, 2017). Mike is responsible for managing all employees and systems to attain, improve, revamp, operate and maintain the growing number of hotels and restaurants managed by Kimpton, and to administer the overall operation of the brand. Kimpton was acquired by IHG® in January 2015, for opening the door for a global launch and accelerated the growth of the Kimpton brand within the US (Mike DeFrino, n.d.).
Situational Leadership at Kimpton
The situational leadership style followed by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is supportive, it is dependent on high supportive/ low directive behaviour. In this style, leaders are expected to recognize laggings, actively listen and make use of effective decision-making skills. It is extremely important to have two-way communication as that is helpful in having better understanding of employees and their skillset (Blanchard, 2008).
Mike DeFrino tends to follow a more egalitarian approach to leadership, which is why there is no hierarchy amongst his employees. He values transparency and believes in an open door policy in terms of communication. He empowers his employees at every level of the organization and expects them to be involved in decision making process, further, he believes that this approach encourages spirit of risk-taking and stimulates teamwork (Mendler, 2016).
Added Value of Situational Leadership
The added value of supportive behaviour is that it encourages employees to learn to make decisions on there and show competence to the organization. At Kimpton, passion and empathy is considered very important and according to Mike DeFrino, it cannot be taught. Employees are expected to use their skills and discover their capabilities that could eventually benefit the organization. Individualism is preferred at Kimpton as it brings a lot of new personalities to the organization (Mendler, 2016).
At Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, teams are continuously being retooled to answer the needs of the rapidly changing industry and customer. Such an environment is created where everyone is always gaining knowledge and moving forward. This is very much relevant to the travellers who choose to stay at various Kimpton Hotels and usually, these travellers aren’t looking for the same experience again and again. They are looking for little adventures and capture memories which could stay with them forever. Travellers at Kimpton are not only looking for great design and drinks but they also look forward to interacting with their employees. Employees at Kimpton are encouraged to be themselves, make connections and make the stay of travellers worthwhile (Fromm, 2017).
This style of leadership also places focus that it is important for a leader to always be serious and no fun at all. A leader should have a good sense of humour so that employees can also totally be themselves rather than living under a shadow. Being in a hospitality industry, it is vital that the front end employees are led by a good leader and have proper strategic goals as they are the ones carrying Kimpton Hotels image and they should get the job done well in order to be compensated well (Rudnansky, 2015).
IMPACT OF LEADERSHIP STYLE ON ORGANIZATION
Mike DeFrino has flipped the hierarchy upside down which resulted in empowering employees. Empowering employees to keep them happy and then they eventually keep the guests happy which is a win-win situation. In order to better perform his duties, Mike opted for servant leadership which means the ability to both serve and lead and that too without expecting anything back. This means that Mike can be observed taking on any job, from carrying the luggage of guests to performing duties behind the counter. Servant leadership also focuses on less talking and more listening (Giang, 2016).
On any normal day at a hotel, guests are always demanding one thing or another which is why it is DeFrino believes that front end employees should have good decision-making skills as they are people closest to any problem or issue that occurs. So essentially front-end employees should have the ability to make quick but efficient decisions. The absence of good decision making skill in an employee creates a fallout and eventually, problems don’t get solved immediately. Limiting the responsibility of decision making to one person only limits an organization’s manoeuvrability. Mike DeFrino’s leadership follows one motto that “We’re not here to be on your back but we’re here to have your back.” Building trust in order to encourage employees to make their own decisions requires putting others before yourself and that’s exactly what Mike does (Boss, 2017).
COMPARISON OF LEADERSHIP STYLE WITH EXPRESS SCRIPTS
Glassdoor.com has named Express Scripts as the worst company to work for in America and it is mostly because of management’s laid-back style of leadership. An employee usually considers his place of work as their second home so it is essential for any organization to value its employees and appreciate every individual’s personality. Situational leadership style followed at Express Scripts is directing, it is dependent on high directive/ low supportive behaviour. Management at Express Scripts doesn’t entertain employees involved in anything other than their assigned tasks. Orders are given and employees are expected to just work. The employee should be valued as this will also encourage them to work hard and give it their best which will eventually benefit the organization. Leaders are role models for employees and it is their responsibility to guide them at all time but at Express Scripts the statement ‘try and figure it out’ is used quite a lot of times. There is a lot of negative energy spread by the upper management at Express Scripts that majority of the employees literally regret their decision of applying and being hired. Every employee is facing issues relating work-life balance. Employees are forced to work long hours which is affecting their family life. Leadership role at Express Scripts is in wrong hands as employees are consequently facing a lot of issues with the management. It is important to keep your employees satisfied and motivated as they are an important part of the organization. It is essential to keep a well-designed compensation package in place which will be helpful to keep employees motivated (Express Scripts, 2014).
LEADERSHIP STYLE NEEDED TO PROMOTE EFFICIENCY IN AN ORGANIZATION
To efficiently run an organization, well-defined leadership is the key but more importantly following a specific leadership style according to your organization is vital. Based on my research and experience, I would choose ‘supporting’ style of leadership. Supporting style requires high supportive and low directive behaviour. This way employees can witness that they are being valued and their opinions matter. Involvement of CEO or team leaders in daily operations shows dedication and also motivate employees to give it their best. Leaders are supposed to be a role model for their subordinates and they bring in a positive vibe in an organization.
Having a good CEO on board totally increases a company’s chances to boost productivity. In any organization, if employees are happy then good things are meant to happen. Every employee will give it their best and strive to become the best at what they do. Competence and commitment are needed by every employee to perform day to day tasks. A company may face a lot of obstacles on a daily basis so it is important to have a clear mindset and action plan to get things cracking. At times of despair, leaders should focus on boosting the morale of employees so that they can work to their full potential. Two-way communication with employees also works wonders. Having an open door policy and staying in touch with employees will prove to be beneficial in times of distress.