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Zelte USA Case Study

Zelte USA an In Depth Case Analysis

In this paper I will provide analysis of the Zelte USA case study, in particular, of the situation that occurred in the company with the General Manager of the company-Hans Meindle, overview key problems in his behaviors, attitudes and leadership style, as well as analyze how Meindle used and misused different types of power with his subordinates and company’s clients.

1. Introduction
Zelte USA, the wholly owned subsidiary of Zelte GmbH, Germany, was established in 1979. It manufactures wheel and casters for different types of mobile equipment, including carts, furniture and hospital beds. The General Manager of the company is Hans Meindle and there are also four departmental managers. Tom Williams is the company’s financial manager, Lloyd Forrest is the production manager, Bob Hobson is the national sales manager and Dan Offerman is the marketing manager. Important point is that even though the company is originally German, of all management only Hans Meindle and Dan Offerman speak German.

The situation occurred involve the series of factors and behaviors people in the company are very anxious, and even annoyed, about. They are all associated with Hans Meindle. The matter is that Meindle, as the General Manager, practices tight control of all operations that occur in the company and the decision-making process is basically centralizes and Meindle take all decisions he can by himself. From the first glance it seems to be quiet normal for the Genera Manager to control the operations of the company, as in the long run he is fully responsible for the company’s activities, as well as financial results. But what he does for that control seems rather unnatural for the proactive and democratic leader.

2. Leadership Style
In order to define properly the Hans Meindle’s leadership style, it is essential to analyze all his behaviors in all spheres of his competence. The first thing that he did in his company, is that he reviewed all mail delivered to the company, and personally distributed it to employees. From one side it seems to be very nice, when the General Manager delivers you the mail and acts as the postman, but it is not his direct responsibilities and the General Manager should have far more important duties and things to do. Then, he also signed every purchase order for everything purchased in Zelta USA starting with cleaning supplies and ending with capital equipment. It was not his responsibilities as well, and it seems that in such a manner he would like to show that he could not delegate authority to perform such duties to the sales manager, because of mistrust. His idea to save on electrical bills is very efficient, as to me, and in this case he showed himself as the leader who is involved not only in business matters, but also have environmental concerns and in the long run wants to decrease company’s expenses. But his idea to decrease company’s expenses appeared to be paranoid, as wanted to save on rubber bands, asking the person to pick them up in the post-office, and also on pen and pencils, asking employees to take them at the conventions and trade shows. It was rather unethical towards the employees and hurt company’s image, as the Zelte USA financial state was very good and the company was profitable, and there were no need to cut expenses in such a manner, as pens, pencils and rubber bands do not cost millions of dollars. But still he used his leadership authority to make employees do what he said.

He also performed duties of the sales manager and didn’t allow him to contact major customers. Of course, it is very flattering for the customer to work directly with the General Manager of the supplier, but General Manager may be not competent enough an may not know all nuances of the interaction of the supplier and customer. Meindle established the image of the company as the one with high prices and unreliable delivery, and sales managers who disagreed with his decisions were simply fire, which again led to problems with customers.

Meindle took all suggestions and propositions about the improving company’s operations and activity and regarding delegating some managerial tasks, as the personal assault and it becomes obvious that his style of leadership was autocratic.

So, leadership is the process of developing vision and ideas, and living by values that support those ideas and the vision, and also influencing others to embrace them in their own behaviors and making hard decisions about human and other resources (Hellriegele & Slocum 210). There are four main types of the contemporary leadership styles, which include: transactional, charismatic, authentic and transformational styles. Charismatic leadership implies followers’ direction and motivation by developing of the firm emotional commitment to the set of standard shares. Charismatic leader possess extraordinary personal qualities, emphasize shared values and vision, promotes shared identity, exhibits desires behaviors and reflects strengths. Such leaders expect that their subordinates would identify themselves with him. To some extent Meindle was a charismatic leader, as he succeeded to make the new employee Suzanne, who were German, to spy other employees. But this comparison is rather ironic.

Authentic leadership is the type for those leaders who know and understand themselves, are sure of their values and beliefs and act in regard to them, and also practice honest and open communication with other people. Authentic leaders usually stimulate follower’s identification, create hope among followers, reflect trust, show positive emotions and raise optimism (Hellriegele & Slocum 243). Meindle was not the authentic leader, as he did not trust his subordinates, never showed positive emotions, created uncertainty and anxiousness among subordinates, and never inspired them so that they were optimistic about the future.

Transformational leadership implies that the leader anticipated future trends, inspired subordinates to understand the new vision of possibilities, developed others to be leaders and take initiative, and built an organization into the community. Key components of transformational leadership include inspirational motivation provision, creation of intellectual motivation, fostering of idealized influence and also showing of individualized consideration (Hellriegele & Slocum 246-47). Meindle never developed others to take initiative and be leaders, preferring to perform such role by himself.
Transactional leadership is about directing and motivating the employees by appealing to their self-interest in performing their duties. The leader who implements this approach usually uses three primary hints to achieve his goals (Hellriegele & Slocum 236), such as provides contingent rewards, exhibits active management by exception (by monitoring work that is done by subordinates) and emphasizes passive management by exception (when the performance does not correspond to the accepted standards). Meindle obviously applied two last mentioned strategies for the better performance of the company, however they were not successful. He was constantly monitoring what his subordinates were doing, and not evaluating outcomes of their performance, and also took necessary steps in order to change the performance of those employees, who were not doing what he commanded (by firing them). Implementation of this type of leadership and its strategies were efficient enough to achieve business goals. Meindle was clearly the “pure” transactional leader, as he overemphasized importance of detailed and short-term goals, rules, policies and standard operating procedures (Hellriegele & Slocum 238).

It is clear that Meindle’s leadership style had negative impact upon the company’s internal and external operations, as well as employees’ attitudes.

3. Types of Power
Social psychologists French and Raven described the five power categories which can be reflected in the behaviors of the leaders. They include: legitimate power, referent, expert, reward and coercive. Later, the information power was added to this list. In the situation with Zelte USA, it is possible to follow how Meindle, as the company’s General Manager was using all five (plus one) powers on practice.

Legitimate power is said to be the power of the individual connected to the positions and duties he holds within the organization. It is formal authority that is delegated to the holder of the position. It is the most important kind of power and Meindle used in the fullest extent. He allowed just a half an hour for lunch in exact time. Meindle also behaved unethically and discriminated female worker and plant workers. He degraded female employees and set the separate dining room for the plant employees, and subsequently belittled those who ate with plant employees from the main office. He also used to speak German when almost nobody understood the language in the office, which is the direct disrespect of the people around. Meindler also secretly raised prices for the largest company’s customer and as a result, the company lost the order for 2 million dollars. It is the indirect malversation of the legitimate power, as other employees could do nothing and couldn’t object, because of Meindle’s position and having fear to be fired.

Referent power is the leader’s ability to attract others and build loyalty. It is based upon individual’s interpersonal skills and charisma. Meindle didn’t use this type of power in the fullest extent; however, he managed to make the new employee Suzanne, who was German, to spy on other employees. By the way, he spoke with her in German only, so that others did not understand what they were talking about.

Expert power is the manager’s power to derive from personal skills and organizational needs for those expertise and skills. Meindle obviously misused this type of power.

Information power is the power of being well-informed, knowing all what is going on in the company and its environment and make right decisions and persuade others. Eve though Meindle was trying to obtain the much information the possible regarding the employees behaviors, I am not sure that he was trying to practice this power type.

Reward power is said to be the degree to which managers are ale to provide their subordinates with the reward of any kind, including time offs, benefits, desired gifts, pay increase, promotion, etc. In the case, there is not a single word about Meindle’s use of such a power.

And finally the coercive power implies negative impact upon employees. I think that the level of Meindle’s use of this power was very high.

4. Conclusion
In the conclusion I would like to summarize that Meindle was predominantly tranactional type of leader, which coincided with his personality type. Meindle extensively used legitimate and coercive powers, underestimating the importance of referent, expert and reward power use for the benefit of the organization.

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