Leadership Scenario Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Leadership Type: Essay Paper: #77868356 Related Topics: Organizational Leadership, Effective Leadership, Leadership Theory, Theory X And Theory Y
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … controversial tenure of Carly Fiorina, the former Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard (HP), using the ethical leadership construct. In the article, Johnson generates several questions that relate to leadership and management practices. The evaluation of HP's former Chief Executive Officer is influenced by the fact that the company experienced a decline in productivity within a short period after the CEO entered the organization. Actually, Fiorina entered a largely successful firm and introduced significant changes within a short time duration, which had considerable impacts on the firm's operations. The dramatic changes that were introduced within a short time culminated in the decline of the value of the company's stock within five years and the eventual unceremonious removal of the CEO. This paper provides a response to the article through examining how it demonstrates leadership.

Analysis and Discussion

As previously mentioned, the article by Craig Johnson examines the rise and fall of Carly Fiorina, HP's former Chief Executive Officer who was unceremoniously removed following the tremendous impact that her dramatic changes had on the firm's productivity and success. At the turn of the millennium, Carleton Fiorina was the most powerful entrepreneur in the United States who rose quickly through two technological companies (Johnson, 2008, p.188). Given her significant achievements, Fiorina was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard in 1999. She entered the company at a time when it was very successful and profitable and has strong position in the market that was reflected by the strong value of its stock. It was widely expected that Fiorina would lead the company into more productivity and success given her experience and the fact that she starred in company commercials and appearance on the covers of business magazines. Actually, her arrival at the firm generated a considerable deal of excitement among the company's employees and the media.

However, Carleton Fiorina was abruptly fired by the HP board of directors in 2005 following the company's poor performance and significant decline in the value of its stock. The decline and poor performance was mainly attributed to the dramatic changes that Fiorina introduced within a short time. These changes had a dramatic impact on the company's culture resulting in the significant downturn in the relationship between the Chief Executive Officer and the workforce. According to the findings of a survey on the firm's workforce, the employees expressed huge dissatisfaction with poor communication and poorly executed decisions by the Chief Executive Officer. These factors also resulted in deterioration of the relationship between Fiorina and the board, which culminated in her sacking.

The article and the case of the rise and fall of Carleton Fiorina provide a good example of the failure ethical leadership or implications for leadership ethics. According to Schultz (2013), leadership does not merely entail possessing certain traits and characteristics but requires mastery of competency-based set of skills that are not only learned but also practiced (p.47). Leadership also entails the ability by the leader to inspire others, particularly his/her subordinates towards the achievement of established organizational or group goals. There are various elements of leadership that enables leaders to achieve this goal such as vision, coordination of diverse efforts, and developing enabling structures.

The article by Johnson regarding the failure of ethical leadership of HP's former CEO identifies several elements of leadership. One of the elements of leadership identified in this article is vision, which entails determining and articulating a compelling future and focusing on the long-term. While Fiorina failed to deliver anticipated success and productivity of Hewlett-Packard, she is renowned as a leader with the ability to create and sell her vision. The dramatic changes she initiated, which tremendously affected the company's culture, were based on the vision she developed and articulated for the company. For instance, she believed that the HP Way was a major factor that contributed to its mediocre performance and required change in order to enhance productivity and success. The second element of leadership demonstrated in the article is support, which is the structure that holds an organization and drive interactions and actions towards achievement of organizational goals. Support involves developing enabling structures, coordinating diverse efforts, and strengthening behaviors towards the common good (Miller, 2014, p.37). The process entails embracing different cultures in order to harness the
The main reason for Fiorina's dismal performance as the Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard is the failure of ethical leadership. The recent numerous business scandals have made ethics to become an important issue in organizational leadership in relation to the success and
profitability of companies (Lu & Lin, 2013, p.209). The significance of ethics in leadership has also been fueled by increased interest in the role of leadership by practitioners and behaviors in attempts to prevent the occurrence of unethical behaviors in organizations. Consequently, ethical leadership is described as the demonstration of ordinarily suitable conduct or behavior through individual actions and interpersonal relationships (Lu & Lin, 2013, p.209). Leaders are usually expected to exhibit the moral highest standards and ethical conduct in daily operations of an organization or company. This implies that leaders are expected and required to be the beacons of morality to their subordinates (Fehr, Yam & Dang, 2015, p.183).

Together with members of the board, the Chief Executive Officer failed as moral individuals and moral managers resulting in Fiorina's abrupt sacking and eventual HP spying scandal. One of the reasons for the failure of ethical leadership in this case was poor execution given Fiorina's seeming inability to effectively coordinate the daily operations of the company. In this case, Fiorina's poor execution and the crucial role played by the board of directors contributed to failure to properly manage day-to-day operations. Secondly, the failure of ethical leadership can be attributed to Fiorina's lack of three important leader character traits i.e. integrity, compassion, and humility. Compassion refers to the ability to put others before self while integrity refers to consistent and reliable actions and humility is a realistic assessment of self, transcendence, and openness to new knowledge and ideas.

Upon assuming the helm of HP, Carly put her needs first by creating a huge distance between herself and the workers. Secondly, she regularly articulated wide policy changes without understanding their impact and making promises she couldn't keep. When she failed, Fiorina blamed other managers and company culture instead of taking personal responsibility. At a time when she was gaining much publicity, Fiorina failed to demonstrate openness to new concepts, realistic sense of self-evaluation, and sense of transcendence.

The third reason for the failure of ethical leadership at Hewlett-Packard is workplace incivility, which was demonstrated in poor relationships between the CEO and her workers and the board. As evident in this case, one of the most common types of deviant behaviors that harm an organization or its workforce is workplace incivility (Taylor & Pattie, 2014, p.596). Since most of Fiorina's initiatives involved introducing changes, they were met with resistance and workplace incivility that resulted in the failure of ethical leadership. According to Sharif & Scandura (2013), employees' response to organizational changes is sometimes influenced by the ethicality of their leader (p.185). Workplace incivility at Hewlett-Packard during the tenure of Carly Fiorina was also demonstrated by the board's actions in shunning ethical responsibility and eventual endorsement of criminal conduct.

Critical Thinking and Evaluation

As previously mentioned, the case study on the rise and fall of Hewlett-Packard's former Chief Executive Officer provides significant insights regarding the implications for leadership ethics. This situation can be understood through multiple perspectives, especially based on the use of various theories of leadership. These theories of leadership can be used to address the failure of leadership that is evident in this scenario or situation. The use of leadership theories to address the situation is because there are various kinds of stakeholders who constantly exert pressure on organizational leadership.

Based on an analysis of the situation, personal responsibility was the basis for the failure of ethical leadership at the company. In this case, the company's Chief Executive Officer, the board, and the workforce failed to demonstrate personal responsibility towards the achievement of organizational goals with regards to increased productivity and success. If these various stakeholders could have demonstrated personal responsibility for their decisions and actions, the company could have achieved tremendous success and profitability.

One of the theories of leadership that can be used to address the failure of leadership demonstrated in this scenario is McGregor's Theory X and Y. McGregor's Theory X suggests that workers are directed and generate desired results through being coerced or forced whereas Theory Y postulates that followers produce desired results because of internal motivation (Landis, Hill & Harvey, 2014, p.99). Theory Y is the most relevant theory of leadership that is applicable…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bishop, W.H 2013, "The Elements of Leadership in a Global Environment," Global Business

and Organizational Excellence, pp.78-85.

Fehr, R., Yam, K.C. & Dang, C 2015, "Moralized Leadership: The Construction and Consequences of Ethical Leader Perceptions," Academy of Management Review, vol. 40, no. 2, pp.182-209.

Johnson, C 2008, "The Rise and Fall of Carly Fiorina -- An Ethical Case Study," Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, vol. 15, no. 2, pp.188-196.

Cite this Document:

"Leadership Scenario" (2015, March 31) Retrieved January 18, 2022, from

"Leadership Scenario" 31 March 2015. Web.18 January. 2022. <

"Leadership Scenario", 31 March 2015, Accessed.18 January. 2022,

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