Report on Strategic management and leadership WL Gore Case Study

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1st Jan 1970 Business Reference this


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Strategic Management is the highest level of managerial activity which develops policies and plans to achieve organization goals and objective. It is a process in which companies matches its strategic advantages to its business environment. These duties usually perform by CEO and other executive. Leadership involves organisation roles such as creating a vision and sharing that vision with the others people of the organisation to pursue. Strategic management uses its leadership skills to fulfil the organisation goals and objectives. There are mainly three types of leadership styles which are used by modern management, Autocratic (Authoritarian), Democratic (Participative) and Delegative (Laissez Faire).

In this assignment I am going to discuss the different type leadership styles adopted by W.L Gore & Associates. It is a leading manufacturing company which produces electronic, fabric, industrial and medical products. W.L Gore is known for its corporate culture where there is no managers, no job titles no hierarchy and no reporting rules, all employee works in teams. It’s a culture where everyone is given authority and opportunity to think like an owner and take decisions which are beneficial for the organisation. This leadership style is prove to be successful for the organization.I am going to discuss how this leadership style has help W.L Gore & Associates in becoming a successful all over the world and what other alternative style of leadership W.L Gore & Associates can adopt to become more successful in the future.

# 1:

Indentify the management and leadership Styles adopted by W L Gore. What impact do you think these styles have had upon the company’s strategic decisions?

There are mainly three kind of leadership style you can find in an organization which are autocratic, democratic and delegative but before we can get into this, we have to understand bit more about the management and leadership. So, according to some of management theorist management can be defined as;

“Getting things done through other people” (Peter Drucker)

“Co-ordination of the organization “a social arrangement for the controlled performance of collective goals” (Huczynski and Buchanan)

“Coping with complexity by planning and budgeting” (Kotter, 1991)

According to the leadership theorist leadership can be defined as:

“Leadership is influencing people to follow in the achievement of a common goal” (Koontz and O’Donnell)

“Coping with change by setting a direction through visions and strategy” (Kotter, 1991)

After understanding the basic definition of management and leadership we can discuss briefly about the three main styles of management and leadership which are as below:

Authoritarian (autocratic) Style is where all the time leader has to tell their subordinates to what to do and how to do it, without taking their ideas into consideration. The leader alone performs the decision making activity and authority for deciding policy for the organization.

Participative (democratic) Style is where leader involves their subordinate in the decision making process by asking them to share their ideas and power remains within the group as a whole and there is greater interaction within the group but leaders makes the final decision and authority of the organization.

Delegative (Laissez-faire) Style is where leader delegates the decision making power to their subordinates but still he is responsible for the decisions that are made. This style motivates the employees to work efficiently and effectively by contributing their innovation and ideas for the organization.

Mullins, L, J, 2010, “Management and organizational behaviours”, Pearson Education, 9th edition

Before founding the company in 1958, Bill Gore was working for du-pont and he was frustrated with the management not fully exploiting the potential of human resource and finally he decided to leave the company to start his own. He was frustrated with the companies old traditional model of hierarchical structure after starting his own company he wants to do something new for his organization and don’t want to make a traditional approach style.

Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz, The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America, Doubleday, New York, 1993.

W L Gore company structure clearly show that they are more focusing towards participative (democratic) and delegative (Laissez-faire) style and not believed in the old traditional styles of leadership anymore and using a contingency approach to succeed in their work, because it says that there is no one best way to adopt a leadership styles its depends upon situation to situation and that’s the biggest difference as compare to others organization which are still working on the same hierarchical structure. W L Gore allows their subordinates to think out of the way and try to come up with the new innovation which is not possible without giving freedom to them, as there is no chain of command in management level so it’s easy for them to communicate directly in an organization, which ultimately speedup the process of decision making and giving them the chance to meet every single individual member of the organization. Gore believes that by giving freedom to subordinate’s it increases the motivation level of the employees and which helps him to increase the productive and profitability for the organization.

By looking at the organizational structure and managerial activities of the W L Gore it clearly proves that they prefer to work in a friendly environment where there is no manager, no hierarchy, no reporting rules, no supervision, no controlling, no restriction what so ever on the associate, the employees work in a friendly teams. When the company has to start any new project they first have to convince each other because they don’t have a particular leader among them, instead it depends upon the talent and skills of an individual. Company culture designed in such a way that every employee think and act like an owner, where they have the full opportunity, authority and knowledge to do so, which can only be possible in a democratic and delegative style of management.

Daft RL Organizational Theory and Design 2009

Strategic decision is related to the whole environment of the organization, W L Gore running its operation with a two style of management which is democratic and delegative, which helps the company to form their strategic decision in such a way that they don’t have to think too much about the companies policy and rules. Employees can achieve everything in a team base structure which is planned from the top strategic level. These two styles help the company to make long term decision, future planning, mission, vision in mind and deal with the overall growth of the organization in an effective way.

The effect of democratic style on W L Gore was clearly shown on its revenues of past 20 years. W L Gore’s patents are greater number the Du-pont. Therefore it is based upon the structure of the company which empowers the associates to innovate and experiment on new ideas and produce innovative product that is the trade mark of W L Gore.

Question # 2:

Explain the link between selected strategic management and leadership theories. What impact do these theories have on organizational and leadership strategy?

Management is the process to achieve goals and objectives of the organization by co-ordination of activities. Management is being defined by many theorists time to time with new developments as compare to previous theorists. The Henri Fayol is the classical theorist (first theorist who comes up with the management theory), He explains the five basic functions and fourteen principle of management for the organization, which are planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling. 1) Planning is the initial step for every business because without planning you can never set your targets, goals and the future plans for the organization. 2) Organizing is the process where companies have to established their solid structure and build up their employees force in an effective and efficient way. 3) Commanding is maintaining activity among personnel, motivates employees in such a way that he can give his full commitment in favour of the organization. 4) Co-ordination is the sharing efforts between the management and the operational level in a positive way which can helps the company. 5) Controlling is to see everything going right according to the plans, principles and policy of the organization.

FW Taylor has given the four objectives of scientific management which is the development of a science for each element methods for doing work, 2) the scientific selection and training of employee in such a way that they don’t want to choose their own tasks. 3) The development cooperation between workers and management to ensure that work can be done with scientifically devised procedures. 4) The division of work load should be share equally between the workers and the employees.

Peter Drucker is the father of management and he was the creator and inventor of modern management he explain the five management processes which helps the organization to process their managerial activities. 1) Management by objective is the first steps where the company has to look for before starting their operation. 2) Motivating employees to take work in an effective and efficient way. 3) Giving task to every single employee of the organization. 4) Measurement (SMART) is where management has to think very smartly and creatively. 5) Training and coaching is very important for every associates of the company, which creates awareness and more understanding the issues of the organization.

Lindsay, M,W, and Evans, J, R, 1993, “The management and control of quality”, Business and economies, 700pg

Firstly, there is a unique relationship between the classical and modern theories which has given by Henri Fayol and Peter Drucker, they both have discussed about the organizing word, which was explain by Henri Fayol in his five management functions and by peter drucker in his five processes of management. Organizations are very careful about how to organize the work in a positive manner where everything on the right track and on the right location, structure of the company should be in a strong position. One another same feature in Fayol and Drucker theory is about planning and objectives, because it’s very obvious that when the new company forms their direction they required proper planning and for doing successful planning you need to know about the objective’s for the organization.

“Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. Kurt Lewin (1939)”

”The set of processes used to get members of the organization to work together to advance the interest of the organization. (Griffin, 1999)”

Trait theory says that leaders are born not made it seems to be a very much traditional type of leadership qualities, comprising of the authoritarian style to manage the things of the organization which is more likely have a link with the style theory where we can compare this with tells, because tells has the same attitude for employee like autocratic leadership, where leader tells everything to their employees give them direction what to do and how to make this project successful without listening their ideas and involving them in the decision making process.

Now, we can also link one of the management theorists with the leadership theorist like managerial roles suggested by Mintzberg have a very close relationship with the contingency theory. Henry mintzberg’s roles explain the quality of managers that they should be able to do anything the situation demands from them, for example in the time of crises, they perform their roles as a leader and in case of resource shortage, and Managers should be a resource allocator. It proves that managers are using their roles as the situation demands from them. As same with Leadership’s Contingency theory which also follows the same Mintzberg’s managerial roles, Leaders should adopt contingent approaches based on the need of time. It says that there isn’t one best way for them it depends upon the situation to situation how to react with them. Mintzberg’s roles and Contingency theory both says that leaders and managers must have the different styles of leadership and understanding the situation, and change according to the situation demands from them.

The impact of these theories on organization is also depends upon the situation to situation how companies adopt different types of leadership style for their organization which suite them. Now a day’s organization is not depends upon the same traditional style of leadership approach instead they are going for contingency approach which suite them more because it depends upon the situation to situation, sometime the leader have to be friendly with their subordinates and sometime they have to be autocratic in nature where they don’t listen to anyone, only makes their own decision and instruct them to fellow the orders.

Question # 3:

Utilise appropriate techniques to review W L Gore leadership requirements?

W L Gore & Associates running its operation with a unique kind of structure, as we already discussed above that they are more focusing towards democratic and delegative style of management because they don’t believed in the autocratic leadership style which de-motivates the employees of the organization to work at an optimum level, friendly structure is the success element for the W L Gore company with carrying this style they are becoming stronger day by day as they are continuously rank top among the biggest companies of the world. This unique way of managing the company is famous everywhere in the world, where people from different culture and backgrounds manage the culture of W L Gore.

The theory of ”7 stages of Business Cycle” says that any company moves between 7 stages from its starting to its exit. W L Gore also covered the 7 stages and covers its journey through step by steps. The current position of W L Gore seems to be in an Expansion stage from this chart and we can clearly says that they are in an expansion stage because they are expanding their businesses all over the world. They have a clear vision to increase their operation around the world and by doing this they are increasing their associate as well, Gore is making full use of their resources and the biggest resources they have is the associate and the innovation which helps the W L Gore to edge over the other organization of the world and the expansion process will increase more and more in a near future as they earning more profits from their overseas operations.

To understand more about the Gore leadership, I can explain you with the ADAIR (2005) leadership competencies model to identify the best suitable needs for a leader.

Gore motivates the employees a lot because they know that there is no boss, no restriction which makes them comfortable in an organization where the associate can think out of the way and try to come up with the new innovation which encouraged them to do the same for in future which ultimately increase the company progress. They work in the teams for their project which helps every individual to share their ideas and respect them by concentrating and listening their view point on that by help each other in solving their problems of an organization. W L Gore setup the teamwork and the leadership for the organization where associate work in a unique kind of structure where there is no manager every one works in a group with the coordinated efforts. Associate needs to think logically and give the reason behind accepting any new proposal like in Gore there is a team base structure where associate works if someone comes up with the new innovation and have to implement this he first have to ask to his team member and discussed in a team for the approval of any new project. Gore has the potential to solve their problems as fast has he canned with the group work and form the new team for the conflict between the employees’s. W L Gore & Associate have a unique kind of environment where the group communication increases and everyone can talks within the organization in an easy manner, as there is no chain of command in the formation of the company so it’s very easy for them to communicate upwards, downwards and sideways within the organization at any time.

Holman, L, T,, 2009, “A Leadership guide for volunteer fire departments”, Jones and Bartlett learning, 135pg

Question # 4:

Produce a future leadership skills plan for W L GORE. Report on how useful was the methods used to plan the development of leadership skills. Ensure you evaluate each method and discuss what you think of each method?

Leadership plans and goals placed by the organisation should depend upon the company’s own aim and objective, aim being provided by the leader defines the path where the organisation wants to be placed in long term. The aim provided then cannot be compromised either in short term or long term. Leadership skills plans of W L Gore will classify into the same style for providing current and future leaders to support the company’s aim as per founded by the leader.

Following methods can be used to train the future leaders of W L Gore;

Experimental Learning:

Usually with experimental learning employees (associates) are taught under practical circumstances what is needed from them and what they the situation demands. The most benefit of this type of learning method is that people get equipped in real circumstances and the disadvantage of being consuming time in turning theoretical knowledge into practical means.


Mentoring is the method in which senior employees provides experienced advices to the junior staff. In case of W L Gore, usually a new recruit is trained by the existing senior staff and is trained for the culture persisting in the company. This type of learning method provides advantage of senior’s experiences being quickly delivered to the junior staff therefore it omits the possibility of repeating the same mistake over and over again by everyone. One side of mentoring provides disadvantage that the mentor and the mentee both may have personality conflicts and it may also be the case that both the parties may not find appropriate time for consultation, therefore because of this the whole crux of mentoring activity may lose essence all together.

By using both the methods existing leaders who are close to the system provided by the leader of the company can train the new associates so that the uniqueness of the system remains intact and is carried forward to future prospective associates. Furthermore the uniqueness of W L Gore is that it equips the individual with the ability of producing solutions that are quick and reliable. This type of culture, for its sustenance, is necessary that people who are in the company and who are willing to join the company acknowledge this uniqueness and carry forward the atmosphere.

Any plan or strategy which is to be implemented, its success largely depends upon the review and monitoring process. If a plan even if successful theoretically can fail miserably in practical terms if it is not reviewed and updated after implementation. The strategy of Experimental learning and Mentoring will not be successful for W L Gore if after implementation it not reviewed regularly.

The process of review usually takes after the strategy is implemented so for example if W L Gore adopts Mentoring method as a strategy to fuel the leadership skills of associates then it is necessary that monthly or quarterly or semi annually the strategy is reviewed and any gap between the desired state and the actual state should be interrogated and the strategy should be updated if necessary. With this approach the leadership skills of associates will increase in the line of the aim provided by the leader.


The company W L Gore & Associate is a unique structured company which empowers its employees to deal with their jobs in their own ways. This type of structure leads to innovations and experimental works. For any company whose aim is to innovate and experiment new ideas W L Gore’s structure is an ideal company for them.

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