Saturday, April 12, 2008

Case study: Carly Fiorina - Leadership Capability

Fall 2005


Coming to understand the context in which you are operating:
Fiorina has a strong sense of understanding the context to map the external terrain. At AT&T, she recognized the phone-equipment manufacturing unit’s potential for growth in emerging market such as Asia and the firm’s capability to supply a switch able to handle both wireless and long-distance traffic. At HP, she boldly declared her intend to merge HP with Compaq as she sees the merge will make the two companies be more efficient and cost effective.

Creating a map that represents the current situation of the group or organization:
She has a savvy approach to customers to understand what they want and how to fulfill their need and wants. That’s why she could always expand the business of her company.

Making sense of the environment:
She saw the market moving quickly and the pace of change accelerating. This sense-making distinguishes her as a great leader who can discover the new terrain for HP as the environment changes.

Relating - centers on the leader’s ability to engage in inquiry, advocacy, and connecting

Fiorina does not always listen and understand what others are thinking and feeling. She ignores others while implementing her decisions without explicit reasons. She also does not care about the critics against her leadership style “management with flying around”. In this context, she is right to act like that to maintain her position as a female leader, strengthen her executive power and make her management more efficient to manage HP as a world-wide company.

She is always clear about her own point of view and trying to influence others of its merits. She is able to tell the truth about what needs to be done and clearly define what is and is not acceptable performance. This ability helps her communicate broad strategies, deep knowledge of operations, visions and instructions clearly to her management team and employees.

She is able to cultivate her followers who help each other to accomplish their goals. She also developed a personal touch that inspired intense loyalty among her followers and the ability to build collaborative relationships with others to create coalitions for change. For instance, she has a strong ally with HP board members. The 51.4% vote of HP’ shareholders for the merge HP-Compaq is her success in building coalitions for change as she planned.


Creating a compelling, shared and meaningful vision:
She changed the vision of HP from a stand-alone product/service provider to a company that provides an integrated suite of information appliances, highly reliable IT infrastructure and e-service, or to expand HP in a new direction at “Internet speed” and customer orientation. This compelling vision motivate HP’s people to change their current view and ways of working, and work hard to reach it. This shared vision enables them to act together, become bound together around a common identity and sense of destiny. This vision also provides them with a sense of meaning about their work and the difference they will make. Therefore, HP could offer its own e-services and develop e-speak, package online services tailored to customers’ needs during her first year at HP.


Changing the way that people work together:
Knowing that the shift of this vision only can be achieved with corresponding changes in organizational structure, she changed the way people work by restructuring HP into four organizations: two focusing on sales and the others focusing on products.
Creating a whole new way of approaching a task: She recognized the need for a new leadership style and faster actions for the new vision. So she decided to change HP from a fully integrated, product-focused business to a more disintegrated approach focusing on product generation, customer-facing and support activities. She also changed her leadership style by using internal Web and message boards to communicate with workers instead of visiting and talking to them in person as the old leadership style.

Creating new approach, new solutions, new practices:

To achieve the goal, she changed the culture and work habit to make employees be more efficient. She encouraged research to explore new technologies and develop new products. She also created the “rules of garage” to motivate new and innovative ideas.

Inventing goes hand-in-hand with sense-making:
She blended sense-making with inventing. Together with the above initiatives, she developed HP’s brand by generating a branding campaign that sent new messages to customers, competitors and industry partners to build a lasting image of the company and brand awareness for its further sustainable development.

Her strong capability of sense-making, visioning, relating and inventing makes Fiorina become a powerful and talented female leader in the American corporate world.

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