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Arnold Schwarzenegger Case Study

Case Study on Arnold Schwarzenegger

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a well-rounded, strong and persistent personality, combined with what appears as unique social and leadership skills. His past accomplishments and the way he handled challenges in the public sphere fit very well into the Big Five Model of personality.

In his early career Schwarzenegger was a bodybuilder and an actor – two professions which require a high level of extroversion and gregariousness. Indeed, he seems powerful but not intimidating, social enough to offer himself as a leader in a trust relationship.

Standing behind his promises and sticking with his plans, Schwarzenegger appears to be a conscientious, reliable and stabile person. He is attentive to others’ wishes, but seems to make decisions according to his own judgement.

Schwarzenegger was able to transform these abilities and others to a successful political career. He is friendly and open, but do not position himself as one who can be manoeuvred or confirm with the majority. Most significantly, California’s need for a strong leadership in the governor’s office during a period of economic difficulties has helped Schwarzenegger in the race for the chair.

2. As a governor, Schwarzenegger has obviously the possibility to practice his formal power as the base of influence. Considering his natural influence on people, it appears though that Schwarzenegger is reluctant to use coercive or legitimacy sources of power, rather presenting himself as a rewarding leader. One example is his effort to pass a budgeting reform: at what seems as unusual for a governor, he left his office to hold discussion with the other officials on their own desks; that is, in fact, a tendency not to frighten others, but to cooperate and demonstrate attention to the perceived advantages of his plan.

A part of his personal power stems from his referent power, meaning that he does not pretend to be an expert where he is not, but emphasises that he can gain the required knowledge or skills or to use others’ opinions.

3. The evidences provided in the text support some of Schwarzenegger’s leadership styles, mainly from the authentic, charismatic and attribution theories of leadership.

Authentic leadership: since his childhood, Schwarzenegger had clear vision about where he wanted to be and where not. This vision helped him to achieve many of his goals, including the plans he presented to the citizens of California.

Charismatic Leadership: Schwarzenegger’s charisma is loud and clear, partially because people tend to attribute to him superhuman powers (as in many of his films). A clear example is George W. Bush 2004 re-election campaign, when the Republican Party, which hesitated regarding Schwarzenegger’s involvement in the campaign, ultimately gave him the “prime-time” speech of the Republican Convention. His behaviour was easy to identify with and gave a material support to the campaign.

Attribution leadership: many perceive the charismatic and well-networked governor as not as a professional politician, but as a representative of individual interests. Hence, the attribution is not merely on his leadership power but also on his ability to access legislative decision makers through it. Nevertheless, he is at the same time direct, honest and has a lack of political correctness, which also implies that he does not need distance mechanism which other politicians use to sweep the crowd. He has self confidence instead of protective behaviour and sticking to the middle.

4. As mentioned earlier, Schwarzenegger has always set accurate goals that allow feedback and made them public. The goals were challenging, but, nevertheless, attainable and from what appear in the case, the main ones were ultimately achieved.

The same holds true for both his personal career goals and his agenda as a governor. Schwarzenegger wanted to leave Austria and he did everything to accomplish this goal, even though his parents did not support him. He was not afraid to change his life completely, when he left his movie career and turned to politics. Schwarzenegger’s life and behavior is a good example of a goal-setting theory according to which success can be achieved through clear goals’ setting and determination.

According to Edwin Locke, difficult goal increase performance, which is true also in the Schwarzenegger’s case – his goals were by far above the average as well as his performance.

Schwarzenegger seem to have enough motivation to work toward accomplishing his goals, and usually it is not an easy job. It would be fair to say, that everything Arnold achieved in his life, he achieved through hard work and persistence – nothing came too easy for him.

4. Schwarzenegger has proved himself to be a charismatic leader, however, he is neither experienced politician, nor economist. Basically, he does not have any financial or managerial background, that is considered as prerequisite for governor’s position. Lacking, economic and political knowledge, Schwarzenegger is, nevertheless, very stubborn and sometimes even arrogant. He is used to trust only his own opinion and does not always consider opinion of the experts. Schwarzenegger is used to reach the goals he sets and he is not afraid to achieve them by any means. For example, when the governor wanted to pass a $103 billion budget, he used all his influence and charisma to achieve the goal and gain public support. The problem with such attitude is that it can be quite dangerous when a person has influence and lack of knowledge. For example, Schwarzenegger wants to tie teachers’ salaries to the test scores of the students, which obviously shows his lack of experience and insight in education.

In addition to that, some people might see Schwarzenegger’s charisma as ability to manipulate people.

5. No need to repeat that Arnold is a very charismatic leader; he is also a good speaker able to express his ideas eloquently and persuade people. He is able to set clear goals and explain his point of view. Arnold is friendly enough and attentive to others when it is necessary which is definitely a good quality for the negotiations. At the same time, California’s governor is very stubborn and arrogant, and not always ready to listen to the opinion of the professionals. Most of the decision he makes according solely to his own judgement. Moreover, there is a difference between negotiating and enforcing one’s personal opinion. The fact that Schwarzenegger has no background and experience in education might undermine his credibility in the eyes of the teachers’ union. However, the way Arnold consulted experts before the elections seems like a very good practise and he will stick to it, it can significantly help his political career.

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