Carly Fiorina was a charismatic leader whom led one of the largest tech companies, HP. Her abilities as a leader was questioned by many as well as her decisions during her tenure with the organization.; however, she pushed forward challenging the opposition. Leaders must acquire traits to effectively lead an organization. Fiorina demonstrated many of these leadership traits.
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This paper will reflect on the professional assessment of the first female to lead a Fortune 500 organization, Carly Fiorina. It will analyze Fiorina’s professional skills from team building to conflict management. It will evaluate techniques Fiorina utilized and which ones she could have avoided. Additionally, it will determine which strategies is best to utilize and avoid in my professional career.
Hewlett- Packard is a worldwide organization that is responsible for providing software and hardware to diverse businesses (Success Story: HP Making it Matter, n.d.). The company was founded in 1939 by two men, William Redington Hewlett and Dave Packard (Success Story: HP Making it Matter, n.d.). It all started inside of a garage in Palo Alto, California (HPE History, n.d.).
In 1999, the company had over one hundred thousand employees and operation in approximately 130 countries (Measure, 1999). HP is governed by an executive team and board with a hierarchical pyramid structure. Fiorina, as the CEO (authoritative leader), established performance objectives. She centralized the management organization and launched a fresh marketing campaign (Grenell, 2015). She also expected her team to reached performance standards that she implemented. Goals were either met or get replaced (Waters & Chon, 2015).
Carly Fiorina attended Stanford and graduated in 1976 with a degree in Medieval history and philosophy. She earned her MBA from Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989 (Schroth, S. T., & Helfer, J. A. (2015). Throughout her career, she climbed the corporate ladder in various positions and became one of the most powerful women in business.
Team building is essential in organizations because it assist in problem solving and decision making (DuBrin, 2016). It creates a better work environment and enhances productivity. Leaders that participate in team building exercises increase their problem-solving skills, build trust, and identify weaknesses and strengths (DuBrin, 2016). Carly Fiorina, a charismatic leader, began her journey with Hewlett- Packard in 1999. She was the first outsider to lead the organization (Barbaro, 2015). During her tenure at HP, Fiorina along with an executive team was responsible for the long-term operation and success of the company. Mrs. Fiorina served as Chairman and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (Executive Team, n.d.). Team building is also essential in achieving a common goal in team-based organizations. There are several team building concepts that are utilized for effective team building. One of the first actions to construct an effective team is to identify the mission of the unit (DuBrin, 2016). This will provide the team with an understanding of its purpose. Establishing urgency, demanding performance, and providing direction are other actions in teambuilding (DuBrin, 2016). These actions will help teams in achieving its goal by understanding its potential.
During Carly Fiorina’s tenure at HP, she effectively communicated the mission of Hewlett-Packard. As a proficient speaker, Mrs. Fiorina knew how to convey her vision to her subordinates effectively. Her focus for HP was to reinvent the company’s old way of doing things with fresh ideas. She emphasized the significance of technological devices. She believed the devices should be able to work together “under a federated architecture that brings all things together” (Richtmyer, 2000). To reinvent HP, Fiorina restructured the company to become more competitive (Executive Team, n.d.). She believed “the HP way” was outdated and wanted to implement changes to bring life to the company (Heritage Institute, n.d.). For example, the company was a product-based company focusing on innovation before Fiorina. She arrived and began to focus more on customer service, sales, and marketing.
Establishing urgency and demanding performance standards are some of the actions of Carly Fiorina. As a novice CEO, Fiorina decided to undertake several roles in the organization. She was the CEO, and later became a Chairman of the board (Executive Team, n.d.). Before Fiorina, HP’s culture was sluggish (Tabrizi, 2015). Once Fiorina arrived, she made changes quickly. She pushed for the merger with Compaq despite opposition from others (Harwell & Paquette, 2016).
Another action that can produce effective team building is designing physical structures to facilitate communication. Mrs. Fiorina communicated well; however, she held meetings only with her executive team. When speaking to other in the company, she held over the top presentations and gave speeches (Tabrizi, 2015).
There were some drastic changes that occurred at HP during Fiorina’s tenure. The action or lack of action of Mrs. Fiorina resulted in her departure from the organization. Although she was able to impress her subordinates with her speeches, she failed at following through on her strategy. She did not solicit assistance from her board, and she did not communicate with lower level management. She did not spend time to develop relationship with some employees. According to some executives, she became distant and inaccessible (Tabrizi, 2015).
Carly Fiorina missed critical elements in developing her team. She spent more time talking about her approach for the company, rather implementing. High performing teams exhibit extraordinary degrees of energy, engagement, and exploration (Harvard Business Review, n.d.). the results of her time at HP would have been quite different if she spent more time focusing on building an effective team. Her lack of self-awareness resulted in her failure.
There are a few things that Fiorina could have implemented to build an effective team. She could have designed and participated in training programs for all staff including herself. The changes she made was quite rapid for the slow- moving company. It may have been wise to have implement changes at a slower pace to get the cooperation from others.
Additionally, she could have created an environment where communication take place. This would have assisted in improving the group cohesiveness. It could have helped improve the feeling of being a part of something. Thus, increasing a positive and productive work environment. Furthermore, Fiorina could have created and implemented a reward program for the company. This would have assisted in the achievement of goals. This program could have improved the confidence in her subordinates and take pride in their accomplishments (DuBrin, 2016).
Organizational Vision and Culture
It is critical for leaders to develop a vision for the organization. Visions assist in identifying the purpose for all personnel (DuBrin, 2016). The purpose of the organization is what outlines the company’s philosophy. Organizational culture influence behavior within the company and its assistance in developing its brand (DuBrin, 2016). Carly Fiorina was a powerful leader at Hewlett-Packard for nearly six years. She utilized her power to influence the performance of others within the organization.
Power of Carly Fiorina
Distinguished leaders must create visions in an organization, and they must possess the personal power to present them to others in the company (DuBrin, 2016). Personal power is defined as the attributes of an individual instead of the organization (DuBrin, 2016).
Carly Fiorina is notable for leading HP, a huge tech company from 1999-2005 (Barbaro, 2015). She held several roles within the organization, CEO and Chairman of the board (Executive Team, n.d.). She recognized the changes in technology and desired for HP to conform to those changes to remain relevant and competitive. Personal power consists of three attributes of power: expert, referent, and prestige (DuBrin, 2016). Fiorina possessed the necessary attributes power to achieve objectives at Hewlett-Packard.
Expert Power. Carly Fiorina’s experience in sales and marketing contributed to several promotions throughout her professional journey. Additionally, she maintained a strong track record at prior organizations (Barbaro, 2015). As HP’s CEO, she is known for the largest tech merger with Compaq (Johnson, 2008).
Referent Power is the competence to inspire others through one’s desirable traits (DuBrin, 2016). Fiorina’s behavior did not exclusively inspire others at HP. During her tenure with the company, she made decisions and anticipated her team to follow through. She also expected positive results (Waters & Chon, 2015). She maintained control of individual departments despite her lack of experience in operations. Her ability to communicate effectively did not result in higher profits (Richtmyer, 2000). In other words, her strategy for HP was not executed properly. Thus, diminishing her reputation with her peers, and stakeholders.
Prestige Power is based on the person’s position and reputation (DuBrin, 2016). Fiorina was appointed to the highest position of an organization, the CEO. Eventually, she became a chairman of the board (Executive Team, n.d.). It is appropriate to say, her success with previous companies strengthened her reputation.
Best Practices of Carly Fiorina
Presenting and communication are strengths of Carly Fiorina. She used her abilities to communicate well to persuade others to believe in her strategic vision for HP. She presented motivational speeches and created more manageable departments by centralizing the company (Heritage Institute, n.d.). Her most notable achievement was the merger with Compaq. She desired to revolutionize the company, but she did not entirely understand what was important to Hewlett-Packard. Although Mrs. Fiorina was able to convey her strategic plans to others, she lacked the experience to effectively execute it. Under her leadership, HP did not perform as anticipated; her strategy did not produce higher revenues for shareholders. Thus, resulting in the demise of her tenure with the company.
Methods to Enhance Positive Outcomes
There is no doubt about it, Carly Fiorina was a charismatic leader with courage and talents. She was not afraid to challenge the status quo and she was fearless. Despite opposition, Mrs. Fiorina stood by her decision to acquire Compaq. Although Fiorina was talented and inspiring, her behaviors fostered an undesirable environment in the workplace. There are some methods Fiorina could have implemented to improve the outcome for HP.
Crowdfunding. Fiorina could have solicited feedback from others within the organization. She lacked the experience needed for everyday operations. She also was inexperienced in technology. To work effectively with engineers, she would have needed their input. Instead, Fiorina oversaw projects and did not solicit help from more experienced personnel (Johnson, 2008). If Mrs. Fiorina would have effectively utilized the necessary feedback, it may have enhanced HP’s revenues and motivated her staff.
Organizing a SWOT analysis is another effective method in strategic planning (DuBrin, 2016). It is a critical element in the success of the organization. It would have assisted in the recognition of domestic strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, it would have helped in identifying opportunities and threats in the market (DuBrin, 2016). Fiorina could have appointed an assistant to help her with strategic planning, especially since she lacked operational experience. The SWOT analysis should have been constructed before the merger with Compaq. Thus, identifying critical evidence to change the trajectory of the company.
Problem Solving Skills
Carly Fiorina was a risk-taker and fearless leader. She was not afraid to challenge the status quo and demonstrated several creative problem-solving skills. Difficulties within the workplace may occur, so it is essential for management to possess skills to overcome them. Conflict management styles are needed to resolve conflict within the workplace. Management should utilize some or all the styles depending on the situation. Carly Fiorina was knowledgeable in sales and marketing (Tabrizi, 2015). She excelled in sales prior to coming to HP. She displayed confidence in herself and was a skillful speaker. Mrs. Fiorina was an outsider because her background involved sales and not engineering (Vries, 2005). She was hired to assist the struggling company to achieve positive results. With her ability to communicate effectively, she was able to promote her vision to others (The Hewlett- Packard and Compaq Merger, n.d.). On the other hand, Fiorina struggled to implement it.
There were some difficulties with HP. The company margins were getting smaller and it had a hard time prospering. Fiorina knew changes at HP were essential for the company to remain relevant. The way HP was doing things was outdated and the company needed to be revolutionized (Tabrizi, 2015). To resolve HP’s problems Fiorina believed the company should acquire Compaq. The merger would unite departments and create growth.
Carly Fiorina demonstrated several characteristics of a creative leader and creative thinking. There are four detailed characteristics of a creative leader. They are knowledge, cognitive abilities, personality, and passion for the task and flow (DuBrin, 2016). Mrs. Fiorina was knowledgeable in diverse departments of large organizations, especially in sales and marketing. On the other hand, she lacked experience and knowledge in engineering. This lack of knowledge was a critical blunder in her tenure at HP.
Cognitive abilities. Carly Fiorina did not entirely possess cognitive abilities. She did not analyze or try different solutions to resolve HP’s issues. She pushed for a merger because she believed this was the resolution it needed.
Personality. Fiorina demonstrated self-confidence. She faced opposition from others regarding the merger with Compaq. Additionally, she was not afraid to take risks as a leader and she worked tirelessly in her office to achieve positive results.
Passion. Fiorina had a passion for business. She held leadership positions within other organizations and was promoted throughout of career journey.
There are five steps to the creative process. They are an opportunity or problem recognition, immersion, incubation, insight, and verification, and application (DuBrin, 2016). Fiorina demonstrated several of these stages which are: Opportunity or problem recognition, immersion, verification, and application.
Opportunity or problem recognition. Carly Fiorina acknowledged there was a problem at HP. She believed the “HP way” was old-fashioned and the company needed to become more modernized. To solve many of Hewlett-Packard’s issues, she proposed a merger with Compaq.
Immersion. Fiorina immersed herself into the merger with Compaq. She traveled extensively, visiting HP facilities within her first year as CEO. She desired to change the culture and ignite growth.
Verification and application. The world of technology was changing, it was becoming difficult for companies to prosper. Margins were getting smaller for many. HP was losing ground, so Fiorina delivered a speech to prove the merger was of value. She convinced many that the merger would solve HP’s problems. She believed it would increase the value of the organization.
Fiorina Conflict Management Style
There are five fundamental conflict management styles: competitive, accommodative, sharing, collaborative, and avoidant (DuBrin, 2016). Carly Fiorina’s conflict management style was competitive. Competitive conflict management style is defined as achieving one’s own goals at the expense of the other individual or to control (DuBrin, 2016). Carly Fiorina had a conflict with the others on the board and her peers. She pushed for the merger with Compaq despite opposition from others (The Hewlett- Packard and Compaq Merger, n.d.). Walter Hewlett, a member of the founder’s family, and a member of the board was against the merger. Fiorina wanted to focus more on customer service, so she altered the culture of HP. She played a major role in convincing others that the deal was best for the organization. It is uncertain if Fiorina utilized other conflict management styles based on research.
Carly Fiorina needed to focus on alternative ways of resolving difficulties within HP. She was not experienced in engineering, so she should have received feedback from others, especially the engineers. They possess the experience and knowledge of this fascinating industry. This would have improved her cognitive abilities. Another area she could have to improve in was passion. She should have developed her passion not only for business, but HP. Fiorina was so busy promoting her vision and herself, she seems to have lost focus on what the company needed. She could have asked for feedback from more experienced staff. To resolve conflict, she could have considered utilizing the collaborative style, especially regarding the merger. The merger may have been necessary, perhaps at another time. Other solutions could have been analyzed before the merger. To achieve the objectives Fiorina set for HP, she could have negotiated with the board members that could have resulted in positive results.
Lisa Charles Self-Assessment
As a manager, I possess some of the skills needed to resolve conflicts. The results I received from the self- assessment determined the conflict management style I possess is competitive. I must admit, I did not like that, although I agree. Mostly, I resolve conflict at work only thinking of what I want. As I move forward in my journey, I would hope to utilize other styles depending on the circumstance. It is essential to use collaborative and accommodating styles regarding conflict with subordinates. Additionally, it is essential to improve my negotiating and bargaining skills as a leader. At times I avoid conflict within the workplace because I despise confrontation. During my academic journey this term, I have learned that conflict is not necessarily bad. It can assist in improving work environments and increase productivity. StrengthsFinder assessment is a self-assessment that focuses on an individual’s strengths. It was developed by Dr. Donald Clifton, an innovator in subject of Psychology concentrating in improving individuals lives by understanding one’s talents and skills (Clifton, 2012).
The subsequent Signature Themes will identify the talents and assist in the continuance of building strengths. The subsequent report will summarize the five most prevailing themes of capabilities, and the results are categorized by the responses on the assessment.
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Positivity. According to the assessment, I am generous with praise, quick to smile, and an all-around positive individual. I can influence others and lighten their spirits. It is difficult to bring my spirits down, and there is a celebration for every achievement.
Learner. Attracted and has an excitement to learning. The excitement leads to the engagement of adult learning such as graduate classes. The outcome of learning is not as important as the accomplishment.
Achiever. There is a constant need for achievement. There is an internal fire that drives to do more. Once a goal is reached, the fire dies down temporarily. If a day goes by with without achieving anything, I feel dissatisfied.
Responsibility. There is an obsession for getting things done. If there is a reason something does not get done, I find ways to make it up to the individual. I am a very dependable individual with impeccable ethics. I sometimes take on more than I should because of my willingness to volunteer.
Connectedness. In my soul, I know that we are all connected for a reason. We are a part of something larger therefore, we should not harm one another. According to the report, I am accepting, considerate, and caring. I am a bridge builder for others of diverse cultures (Clifton, 2012).
Cognitive Factors and Leadership Analysis
Features that relate to leadership are categorized into three comprehensive groups. They are personality traits, motives, and cognitive factors (DuBrin, 2016). These traits impact leadership effectiveness within an organization. Cognitive factors are defined as traits of an individual that influence performance and learning. It involves functions such as memory, reasoning, and attention Danili, E., & Reid, N. (2006). Cognitive factors include cognitive intelligence, knowledge of the business or group task, creativity, insight into people and situations, and farsightedness and conceptual thinking (DuBrin, 2016).
Cognitive Intelligence involves the capability of solving complex issues within the organization. Effective leaders should exemplify the abilities to solve everyday problems by utilizing practical knowledge as well as cognitive intelligence (DuBrin, 2016). For instance, an executive should know the best time to deliver announcements. In other words, it is utilizing the right knowledge at the appropriate time.
Knowledge of the business is essential in top level management. Top executives are responsible for strategic planning within an organization. To guide the organization where it intends to go, management must have a knowledge of the business. It is also important to know what groups are working on (DuBrin, 2016).
Creativity is necessary for organizations to remain relevant and get ahead. Many successful organizations had leaders that were creative. They had the ability to revolutionize its products or services.
Insight into people and situations assist management in making wise choices for the organization. It allows management delegate tasks effectively due to the knowledge of team members’ talents. Executive level managers must be able to understand the problems of the organization and know how to solve them.
Farsightedness and conceptual thinking assist leaders in understanding the consequences of actions and strategies forthcoming (DuBrin, 2016). Farsightedness managers can see the big picture and know how to plan accordingly. Conceptual thinkers know and understand how diverse parts of the organization affect one another.
Currently, I am a training manager of an organization. My job duties include managing a store as well as travel to other stores and train new hires. Additionally, I cover shortages when employees are longer employed with the company. Some of my strengths and traits are passion, courage, emotional intelligence, and flexibility. I have a passion for people and work. I work sixty plus hours a week since becoming manager. I get to work around 6:30 AM and I leave at 7:00 PM. I make myself available for others to reach me or speak to me when needed. Additionally, I make sure all employees are doing well by keeping in touch with them. Sometimes, I keep a relationship with them after they move on to other companies.
Emotional intelligence involves the understanding of one’s emotions and the capability to get along with people. I have possessed the ability to understand one’s emotions and empathize with others early in my career. I am aware of my emotions and know how to control them. At times, I experience bad days; however, I do not let my bad day affect my performance. Bad days do not affect my communication with others. In conclusion, for my store to remain relevant, I must possess emotional intelligence because it can’t succeed without the team.
There are skills that are necessary to advance within my career, so I must develop an effective plan and follow through. To achieve the goals that I have set forth, I must seek roles that will allow me to communicate more effectively through public speaking. I will focus on enhancing my communication as well as conflict management skills. I am not confident in theses areas and will improve them within the next twenty-four months. I have plans on attending workshops that will educate me on becoming an effective leader. I will ensure to get an understanding and knowledge of desired skills to advance my career.
Self-Assessments are essential in understanding one’s proficiencies. StrengthsFinder helped identify areas of strengths for me and provided a plan of action on how to build on to those strengths to become a better individual. As a manager, I possess necessary traits of a leader but there is room for improvement. It is important that leaders build effective teams within an organization. Teambuilding is a necessary skill to lead effectively. Additionally, teams must be able to communicate effectively to promote a positive work environment. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO did not build an effective team during her tenure at HP. Her lack of ability caused team members to not reach its goals that she set. As a newly CEO, she focused on the long-term operation of the company but lacked the ability to implement the changes needed. Fiorina had the energy and communication skills, but she refused to include others in her decision-making process. If she had realized her weaknesses, she would have probably been the one of the greatest CEO’s. Unfortunately, Fiorina’s lack of self-awareness damaged her career with the company and trust from her subordinates.
Successful leaders must possess critical elements of power to produce positive results. They must acquire the necessary skills to persuade followers to believe in their strategic visions. Carly Fiorina was a charismatic leader with the power to bring positive outcomes and produce effective teams. She had decades of expertise, and the competence to motivate. On the other hand, she lacked the ability to effectively execute her vision. Her desire to change HP was cut short because she did not comprehend the principles of the company and what really mattered to it. If Mrs. Fiorina utilized efficient strategic planning methods such as crowdfunding and developing a SWOT analysis, the results may have different. Thus, being known for one of the greatest CEOs. Furthermore, leaders must possess the necessary skills and knowledge to resolve workplace conflicts. It is equally important to have the capability to solve problems. Carly Fiorina possess some of the skills needed to resolve disputes; however, there are areas that is needed to improve in. She can develop knowledge in other styles such as the collaborative style. HP could have experienced an increase in production and quality relationships between leaders and subordinates. Only if Fiorina recognized her lack of skills, she may have been one of the greatest CEOs. Unfortunately, she did not understand or acknowledge her lack of skills necessary to lead one of the most prominent companies which led to the debate of her performance at HP. My desire as I advance through my career journey is apply techniques that will help me grow as an effective leader and learn form the mistakes of my chosen leader, Carly Fiorina.
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