Jeanne Lewis at Staples, INC: Path-Goal Theory

Once Jeanne Lewis joined Staples as its marketing manager and became the director of operations, the first leadership behavior that she showed was achievement-oriented leader behavior. She realized the reason why the stores were not performing as expected was due to a lack of leadership. She managed people under her pretty well at times even replacing store associates where necessary. She worked extremely hard and was also able to motivate and set challenges for others. She even started training programs to rejuvenate the performance of her associates (Suesse, 2000).

Later when she became the divisional merchandising manager and vice president of merchandising Jeanne Lewis used a directive clarifying leadership behavior with her employees. She managed the buyers by creating merchandising strategies increasing the division’s sales. She led her entire team and totally turned the department around by maximizing DPP. She not only directed people under her but also influenced them, thus gaining their respect. After Jeanne Lewis got promoted and joined the marketing department she used the participative leader behavior with her employees. She had to consult with the members of the two departments comprising the marketing department, the marketing organization, and the advertising agency. She told her team members and associates that she would question them a lot and hold multiple meetings with them (Bilgin, 2001).

Finally, throughout her career in Staples, Jeanne Lewis used supportive leader behavior when handling her employees. She was accessible to her employees at all times. Not only was she passionate about her own work but also motivated others. So much so, that even her boss, Richard Gentry, praised her by saying that she worked in a strategic manner (Schmid, 2006).

The path-goal theory of leadership is mainly used in organizational studies and according to it the behavior of a leader will be acceptable by the employees only if they see it as a direct or potential means of need satisfaction. Thus, here Jeanne Lewis’s behavior should be such that she can motivate, satisfy and obtain required performance out of her subordinates. As stated earlier, Jeanne Lewis’s leadership behaviors corresponded to the characteristics of the path-goal theory (Suesse, 2000). Firstly, Jeanne Lewis displayed the behavior of an achievement-oriented leader. Here, just like Jeanne Lewis did, the leader sets the goals and challenges for the team and expects that they will perform the tasks given by putting in their best. Jeanne Lewis, too, showed confidence in the abilities of her coworkers and she had total faith in them since she believed that they would meet the expectations (Bilgin, 2001).

The second leadership behavior displayed by Jeanne Lewis was that of a directive clarifying leader. She let her followers and subordinates be completely aware of what she required of them, like maximization of DPP, and even helped and led them into performing their tasks and achieving the predetermined goal. Since she had her directives clear in her head she was able to take charge of and manage a number of different job assignments and departments, like merchandising marketing, and advertisement, and later even as the senior vice president of retail marketing and small business (Gibson, 2002).

After getting her promotion Jeanne Lewis displayed the behavior of a participatory leader. Such a leader consults her team members and coworkers before taking any important decision by holding regular team meetings. She would even hold multiple meetings so that she could properly understand the functions of her staff members and how they fit into the team. But, above all Jeanne Lewis greatly displayed the behavior of a highly supportive leader. Such a leader takes good care of the needs and preferences of her team members and subordinates. Not only this, but such a leader also needs to be equally concerned about the psychological welfare of her coworkers (Rowe, 2007).

Immediately after Jeanne Lewis took charge as marketing manager, her employees described the time spent with her to be one of professional growth. Not only were they motivated by her achievement-oriented leadership qualities but they also appreciated her hard work and her tight management (Suesse, 2000). Since Jeanne Lewis was extremely clear about her directives her strategies were also to the point. Because of this, her employees responded with behavior of respect when she was able to triple the DPP. They praised her penetrating mind and her strategic talents. Her team members realized that to keep up with her they too had to know everything about a certain matter and thus, they responded by analyzing everything deeply (Rowe, 2007).

Since Jeanne Lewis acted like a participatory leader, even her team members responded in a similar manner, they attended all her meetings and it was seen that a lot of work was being done during their person-to-person status meetings. Jeanne Lewis was very supportive of her team displaying the behavior of a supportive leader. At certain points, she realized that the staff members were not very comfortable talking and sharing information with each other. But even when the group meetings did not turn out to be too successful, she would talk most of the time during the meetings. And as a response to this support, her staff listened to what she had to say and even reported directly to her (De Hoogh, 2005).

When we map the behavior of the employees to that described by the characteristic features of the path-goal theory we find the following results. When Jeanne Lewis played the role of a leader who was achievement-oriented, she highly motivated the employees whose behavior was the same as hers, i.e. achievement-oriented. In response to Jeanne Lewis’s leadership role as a directive clarifying leader, the employees were left with extremely positive behavior. This is because when Jeanne Lewis set goals for them and told them how to achieve those goals, these ambitious demands made the entire process extremely satisfying for the employees. They knew their roles, what was expected of them and the demand of the task they had to perform (Mullins, 2007).

Jeanne Lewis also played the role of a participatory leader and in return, her subordinates and team members displayed a personal involvement with their work. She did not just limit herself to a micro-manager and thus her team members joined her in debates and dialogues whenever they were in the middle of decision-making processes. With every promotion that Jeanne Lewis got, she became responsible for more and more people working under her. Not only was she concerned about the goals of the company but also she showed real concern for her team members. (Suesse, 2000) The employees had to fulfill a number of demanding tasks which were sometimes psychologically distressing. So, Jeanne Lewis would hold person-to-person status meetings so that she could keep track of her employees and also the reports (Northouse, 2007).

References

  1. Bilgin, Z. (2001). Reconciling culturalist and rationalist approaches: Leadership in the United States and Turkey. Thunderbird International Business Review, 40(6), 563-583.
  2. De Hoogh, A.H.B. (2005). Linking the Big Five-Factors of personality to charismatic and transactional leadership; perceived dynamic work environment as a moderator. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(7), 839-865.
  3. Gibson, C.B. (2002). Leadership and Goal setting: Example of USA. Thunderbird International Business Review, 41(2), 563-583.
  4. Mullins, L.J. (2007). Management and organisational behaviour. London: SAGE Publications.
  5. Northouse, P.G. (2007). Leadership: theory and practice. London: SAGE Publications.
  6. Rowe, W.G. (2007). Cases in leadership. London: SAGE Publications.
  7. Schmid, H. (2006). Leadership styles and leadership change in human and community service organizations. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 17(2), 179-194.
  8. Suesse, J.M. (July 24, 2000). Jeanne Lewis at Staples, Inc. (A) (Abridged). Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

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