Case Studies of Leadership at the CEO Level


Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes. That is, leadership is an influence which a leader shows over his subordinates .The influence is focused to achieve the goal of the organisation. It also involves lot of skills and traits which a leader should have. It includes responsibility, integrity, intention, etc. These traits should influence the subordinates and the colleagues of the leader. Leadership skills need not be born within a person; It can also be developed. Not every leader is born with the leadership skills. Leadership skills can be developed by training or practice.

The development and growth of the organisation is purely dependent on the leader and his leadership. The success and the failure of the business is based on the decisions which the leader takes. Mostly the company is managed by the Chief Executive Officers.

Why are CEOs very important in an organisation?

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The Chief Executive Officer is the foundation of any company. They are driven by strong leadership and personal integrity, immense communication skills and with strategic focus on the goal of the company. CEOs are responsible for all the activities right from the starting of the business till its failure. All the decisions regarding the functioning of the business is taken by the CEOs. They head the Operations, Finance and budgeting, marketing, human resource and other departments. Even though there are separate work forces allocated for these departments, it is the duty of the CEOs to decide upon the issues like: setting the target for the business, decisions regarding new products, product lines, fund raising, merger or partnership, hiring and reducing manpower, build corporate culture and organise all the departments and synchronise them to the goal of the organisation.

So it is very important that the higher level management takes a careful decision in appointing a CEO.

Now in this Essay let us discuss on the leadership of Carly Fiorina and Dick Fuld.

Carly Fiorina: -

Fiorina started her career as a low level manager in AT&T. She was very dynamic in her work and she quickly grasped the attention of the top level management due to this. She showed interest in the tough assignments and tasted the fruit of success in those. She played a very important role in AT&T's spin off of Lucent Technologies and was again successful in its operations. She was made the head of the sales and marketing group of lucent technologies. During her period, the stock price of Lucent was increasing but AT&T's stock price was reducing.

After her continuous success in lucent technologies, she moved to Hewlett Packard as CEO in the year 1999. She was the only outsider, who was appointed by the company as the chief executive officer. Since she was working in the sales and marketing department at AT&T, she changed the focus of HP to marketing. She spent about $200 million in the branding and advertisement strategy. And only few women were there in the top level management of Hewlett Packard. After she entered the organisation of Hewlett Packard, she concentrated more on the marketing side of the company. She signed many purchase and sales agreement with many big players in various industries. They include Ford Motor Company, Delta Airlines, General Electric, Walt Disney Company and the United States Department of Homeland Security. Prior to her entry as CEO, HP's focus was more on the product development and not on the consumer support. After Fiorina took charge as CEO of Hewlett Packard, she shifted this context of product development to customised software.

She has been marked number one in "Fortune" magazine's list of 50 most powerful women for six times. She believed that her leadership was strong in Hewlett-Packard.

Dick Fuld: -

Dic fuld began his career as a commercial paper trader with Lehman Brothers in 1969.During his course of 40 years, Dic saw many changes in the organization. He worked as a CEO of Lehman Brothers from 1994 to 2008. He was the longest tenured CEO on Wall Street during the time of the financial crisis of 2008.

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He helped the company to successfully cross the financial crisis which occurred at 1997.Dick was very successful during his period as CEO. He tasted the fruit of success when he turned the loss occurred in 1993 to profit of $4.2 billion in the year 2007. Dic Fuld was very conscious about the welfare of his workers. His workers were very highly paid and were very happy to work under his leadership.

Dic Fuld was named as America's top chief executive officer in the private sector by Institutional Investor magazine in the year 2006.In the year 2007; he received a bonus of $22 million. In March 2008, he was given the title "Mr Wall Street". Dic has served as one of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He was a member of the international business council of the World Economic Forum and the Business Council. He also served as the board of directors for the Robin Hood Foundation but due to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers , he has been removed from the position.

He took huge risk in piling up the mortgages. And he even succeeded in that business. Dic Fuld was very successful in handling the mortgage crisis than his competitors. This made Dic Fuld to underestimate the opponent and overestimate self. And when his company went into bankruptcy, he failed to rescue the firm as he refused for the merger with Warren Buffett and also for the capital injection. During the financial crisis of 2008, Dic refused to resign the office when other CEOs were forced to do quit their job.

In December 2008 , Fuld was given the award by Financial Times as "Lex Overpaid CEO" and "thief" for receiving $34m in 2007 and $40.5 in 2006, and that too before the bank's failure. CNBC named him as the "Worst American CEOs of all time".

What are the factors that contributed to the meteoric rise of these CEO's?

Rise of Carly Fiorina:-

As mentioned earlier, Ms Carly Fiorina started as a manager in AT&T. She showed interest in her work in sales department. She was very talented and was able to achieve the sales target of the company. She made it a habit to achieve huge targets setup by her company. Due to this kind of attitude towards work, she attracted the attention of the organisation. As a next step in her career, the impressed organisation offered her a challenging position in its new spin off lucent technologies. She was the head of the sales and marketing group of the new company. She had a good moral contact and support with the fellow employees. Due to this type of attitude and leadership in the company, she had the support of the employees. In her leadership, the lucent technology's share price was rising.

Her aggressive sales record made the Hewlett Packard to turn towards her. Carly Fiorina had a good opportunity to move to a higher position in her career. That was a golden opportunity for her to get an offer from Hewlett Packard. But to get it, she had to face lot of obstacles; she was scrutinised in the interview process by the management of Hewlett Packard for the post of Chief Executive Officer.

Since she was one of the few female in the organisation, she found it very difficult in the initial stage to cope up with the work force. And the fact is that she was the only outsider, who was appointed as a Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard. And moreover, she was from marketing background. At that period, Most of the top level managers were of the engineering background. Due to her immense potential and hardworking attitude, she was able to overcome these obstacles. She not only focused in the revenue and profit of the company but also on the innovation and development of new and existing product. Fiorina increased the profits by bringing in the radical changes in the organisational focus of the company.

She was the most powerful woman in the United States of America. She was very famous for the big risks which she takes regarding the functioning of the business. She was leading the list in the Fortune magazine's most powerful women in business for the continuous six years.

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Rise of Dick Fuld:-