The organization that I choose for assessing the organizational leadership concepts is Volvo Group. It is one of the oldest organizations in automobile sector. It was established in 1927 and is one of the leading truck manufacturers worldwide since past 92 years . Volvo Group was found by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson in 1927 . The company is into manufacturing of light-duty, midsize-duty, and heavy-duty trucks, construction equipment, marine engines, buses, and diesel engines for various industrial applications . Many major automobile brands including Mack Trucks (USA), UD Trucks (Japan), Eicher Motors Limited (India), Renault Trucks etc. have merged with Volvo over the period of time . Volvo Group has a global presence in 18 different countries . Volvo brand products are sold in over 190 markets around the world . There are about 105,000 employees associated with Volvo Group in these 18 countries .
Fundamentals of leadership, including leadership styles and traits
Leadership is a process of directing and driving people to accomplish a common organizational goal by establishing a strong purpose . In the Army leadership ADP 6-22 article, the leadership concept and leadership requirement models are explained precisely. Three factors that constitute the foundational qualities of a great leader are purpose, direction and ability to motivate others. Attributes and competencies also act as the pillars of successful leadership. Attributes comprise of qualities such as character, empathy, discipline, confidence, flexibility, resilience, intellect, ability of making sound judgements, mental agility, leadership, ability to build trust, great communication skills, ability to prepare oneself and others, focused and result oriented. The popular leadership styles that leaders tend to follow include transformational, transactional, visionary, bureaucratic, coaching etc. Out of all these leadership styles, both Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson, the founders of Volvo Group were visionary leaders with humongous technical expertise. They started the company from scratch with a vision of building Swedish cars. Eventually, their leadership led to expansion of the organization from cars to several other sectors including trucks, agricultural equipment, buses, construction machines and marine equipment. It was both leaders’ vision that led the company to progress in a defined direction that led to successful mergers with right companies lifting Volvo’s involvement in several manufacturing sectors. Today, the leadership traits including integrity, empathy, flexibility, stability, self-confidence, intelligence can be seen in every individual working for the company. The company culture over the long period of time has bloomed and leaders have been successful in building trust within the employees. People associated with the company have similar personalities that match with organization’s values. As Lussier and Achua talk about ‘the big five model’ on the five different personalities of the leaders, I can relate to ‘agreeableness’ type with most of the people in leadership role at my office, Volvo Group Truck Operations. Leaders care for their team members, they make an effort to bring positivity in the work environment by conveying positive feedback and be available to help team members with any impediments that they might be facing. Volvo being a globally present organization today, the leaders function in a transformational leadership style at several sites located in different corners of the world. They are invested in people’s growth along with the organization’s success. Several personal development models have been implemented that reach out till the grassroot level that comprises of the industrial workers at the Volvo sites. These models ensure every employee’s personal growth within the organization. From knowledge to practical experience, Volvo encourages exposure to the opportunities. Leaders at Volvo Group have successfully stroked a balance between supportive and directive behaviors.
Emotional intelligence is basically dealing with one’s emotions to avoid letting them overpower oneself, understanding other people’s emotions and preserving the relationship. Authors Lussier and Achua have mentioned different skills of an emotionally intelligent person being Self Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management. While working at an organizational level, it is important that these values percolate through individuals working for it. Employees should understand their emotions and how they can affect their performance at work. Being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses is one of the key factors of being self-aware that leads to boosting one’s self-confidence. In order become self-aware, one should frequently analyze the factors that influence them emotionally and understand why they do certain things in a particular way. This will help individuals to understand things that trigger them and be prepared to overcome these negative emotions. The second key factor of emotional intelligence is self-management which focuses on personal growth. One can improve themselves by learning how to control their emotions and not letting it override one’s behavior and performance, by identifying and abiding by the personal values, being optimistic and taking initiatives. The third factor which plays a vital role at organizational level is social awareness which talks about empathizing with people. It explains the importance of listening, greeting individuals and building rapport, and learning to look at the bigger picture. The fourth factor is about relationship management that highlights points such as team building, resolving conflicts, helping each other grow and walking the talk. At Volvo, the level of emotional quotient can be observed at every employee’s actions. These four points are reflected and highlighted in several different training sessions, quick meetings, and summits. Volvo promotes safety initiatives and encourages employees to prioritize safety over any other business goals. At the aftermarket segment of Volvo, distribution centers in North America, Mexico, Canada and other Asian countries have a concept of ‘safety talks”. Here, employees utilize this opportunity to connect with the fellow employees and build a rapport once every week. The concept of self-awareness and self-management are popular subjects of these talks. This generates opportunities for industrial workers to learn new things and understand the technical aspects of emotional quotient. This builds a trust between the supervisors who conduct these safety talks with the employees. This also avails them the opportunity of being open about raising issues and dissolve disputes among themselves. Volvo deals with activities to enhance the emotional intelligence at a global level. Every year there are several platforms made available to every Volvo employee. Women’s leadership summits are help where leading ladies from different corners of the world come together to share their experience, build network, and success stories. This boosts the social awareness since ladies get new exposure of stepping into other person’s shoes and learning how the leading ladies looked at bigger picture to overcome barriers. People at Volvo tend to use euphemism many times. There is an openness in the communication however, employees make sure that they do not offend or hurt other person’s feelings. There is always a mutual respect between individuals and employees are encouraged to explore their potential and creativity to shine. Efforts and accolades are always acknowledged and appreciated with an intention of motivating the team members. The online portal is also used to publish articles highlighting achievements in different areas for sites and employees. There is a great emphasis on “walk the talk” culture at Volvo. The statement is repeated frequently and is proudly displayed at several locations. The organization gives its 100% to absorb the relationship management skills in the employee. Work groups at different locations also plan outings, and activities for team building.
Culture and Climate
As Shein rightly said, I too believe that values pay a significant role in organization’s culture and climate. These values usually resonate with individuals associated with the organization. Volvo Group’s values include Customer Success, Trust, Passion, Change, and Performance. The overall culture of the organization is focused on delivering great products, performing the best and employee engagement for talent utilization. The organization works on two key factors which include trust in each other and mutual respect. These two things spring an empowering feeling within individuals to accept and perform challenges, understand the customer and market demands, work in teams for solving problems, and accepting and learning from mistakes to overcome the barriers by working hard. For positive leadership climate, the organization must have a clarity in the vision, communication structure, ethical code and conduct, freedom to express one’s creativity and a high accountability in the employees. At Volvo, leadership climate is positive and empowering. They have an established vision statement and all teams are frequently motivated and kept aligned with the common goal. Every team is acknowledged for their hard work and dedication. Being a global level organization, these sessions highlights how each team’s work is contributing in organization’s success. The intention behind these is to motivate people. Every employee at Volvo is treated with respect irrespective of their position. Leaders in organization ensure that every individual from managers to industrial workers receive recognition for their hard work. All employees seek for solutions in problem situation and work cohesively as one team.
- Army, U. S. Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP) 6-22. Army Leadership.
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