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    Leadership practices in a more modern society emphasizes the importance of group dynamics rather than individual achievement. Organizations that function with teams have a common goal and work together as well as individually to achieve their goals. Unfortunately when an organization does not meet productivity goals the team must re-examine its best practices and team approach. This Solution will describe how to apply the team approach to an organization that has faced significant problems, like Borders Group, Inc.

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    The company has faced significant financial and managerial problems over the last few years. As a result of changes in the economy, changes in the retail book market, and rising debt, the company had to bring in new leadership . To reduce further long-term damage to the company, on January 24, 2009 the Board of Directors Chairman Larry Pollock announced new changes in management ("Borders group: Borders group announces management changes including new CEO; Holiday sales results also reported," 2009). New management made it a priority to become more aggressive when addressing the company's financial problems.

    When new management has the task of restructuring a struggling company, the effective method would be to observe each department or team dynamic for opportunities of improvement. According to a researcher named Peter Northouse, the exemplary form of team leadership originates from the idea that a leader will monitor a team's functionality then take the appropriate action to ensure an operational team. (Northouse, 2009). Operative team performance starts when the leader has a the capacity to understand a situation, and therefore able to confront problematic circumstances within the team (Northouse, 2009). This team approach can also be useful when looking for feedback from team members into what strategies are most effective for the organization. In the case of Borders, as new management came into the organization the obvious reason was to provide changes within the organization. But the question is was the change effective in stimulating the company's financial situation? No, because eventually Borders went into bankruptcy. If the Borders management team sought to implement the team leadership model not only would it assist with confronting team problems, but also assist with understanding the environmental and organizational contingencies that define the team's solution to problems. One of the problems with Borders was that new CEO Ron Marshall wasn't with the company one year before leaving as CEO. One year is not adequate time to implement and improve team changes for a struggling organization.

    Leadership Decision Making:

    As a method in improving team functions, leaders take appropriate action by making decisions based on how the team is functioning. As a result of Border's rising financial debts and inability to adapt to new changes in the economy, the company began laying off upper and lower level management. This decision came from CEO Ron Marshall with the belief that eliminating jobs would help to aggressively tackle the financial debts. Ron Marshall explains in an interview about his decision to cut jobs in a statement below:

    "As we address the immediate priority of getting our company's financial house in order, one of our goals is to more aggressively reduce annual expenses. It is difficult to make the decision to eliminate jobs, especially those of talented and dedicated leaders who have significantly contributed to our organization, yet streamlining our leadership and eliminating management layers will help us be more agile and at the same time advance us toward our expense reduction goals" (Borders group consolidates corporate management, 2009, para. 5).

    According to the text, McGrath's critical leadership functions reveals the two scopes of leadership characteristics that is relevant to decision making; monitoring versus taking action and internal group issues versus external group issues (Northouse, 2009). The first question any leader should ask whether to monitor the team or take immediate action. In the case of Borders, Marshall made quick decisions with no time to monitor the team as a result of the fast downward financial crisis.

    As leaders, the proper diagnosis and analysis of problems is critical for the decision making process. In addition to taking immediate action, leaders can also focus on resolving problems within the group dynamics of the organization (internal) or resolving problems outside the group dynamics (external) (Northouse, 2009). For Borders leaders, monitoring the internal environment would've been beneficial because the unfortunate demise of Borders began with the lack of innovation in retail books sales. Had Marshall conducted research on the internal environment rather than eliminating jobs, the outcome might be different. Leaders can actually help their research process by obtaining feedback from team members, conducting team assessments, evaluating group outcomes, and networking with others outside the team for guidance (Northouse, 2009). Once enough information is gathered, the leader needs to analyze the results and then make appropriate decisions or implement action plans.

    The second form of decision making should focus on whether the team needs help in resolving relationship issues or task issues. Research studies have suggested that small functional groups can easily focus on two important leadership purposes: task and maintenance (Northouse, 2009). Task leadership functions include working with team members to complete the job, thinking quickly to make decisions, problem solving, acclimating to new changes, planning ahead for the future, and creating successful outcomes. On the contrary, maintenance functions include creating a positive work environment, promoting conflict resolution, satisfying members' needs, and building relationship (Northouse, 2009). Effective team leadership should consistently focus on both task and maintenance functions. According to research studies both types of leadership behaviors; task focused and maintenance focused have been found to be related to apparent team effectiveness (Northouse, 2009).

    Leadership Theories and Practices Used by Borders:

    The initial approach adopted by Borders was that of change management instead of change leadership. As stated by Brett Clay, the theory of change management is the idea that companies will acclimate to changes rather than become a leader of change ("Borders Books Liquidation Shows Change Management Doesn't Work, Says Change Leadership Expert", 2012). The problem with Borders was its inability to change with the market, and in the case of Borders, going from a brick and mortar company to an internet and electronics company. In fact, the former president of Borders, Tamara Heim, suggested the use of the retail convergence strategy. The strategy focused on bringing the stores together with Borders.com to create an integrated approach that went beyond brick and mortar styles of business (Borders Group Names Heim President of Borders Books and Music and Borders.com, 2000). The change management practice does not alert leaders of the external factors in the market which may cause damage to an organization in the future. Some of these external factors included for Borders the changing retail book industry, the new e-reader development, and a downward economy. The leaders of Borders did not even address the changing external factors and made poor decisions as a result. Some of these poor decisions included the outsourcing Borders online to Amazon.com, and ignoring the growth in demand for e-readers ("What Lessons Are These For Small Business?", 2012). According to Bret Clay, author of Selling Change, the notion of adapting to change in a situation and then using the change management philosophy to implement the adaptation is no longer an effective process ("Borders Books Liquidation Shows Change Management Doesn't Work, Says Change Leadership Expert", 2012). Effective leaders are those that are in positions to make change happen and force other companies to follow suit.

    Effective Leadership Practices:

    The more effective leadership approach for Borders would be the contingency theory, which tries to match leadership styles to appropriate situations (Northouse, 2009). As an example, selecting leaders with systematic approaches to implementing innovation and change would be ideal for a company like Borders. The primary goal of the contingency approach is to assess a leaders' style and the circumstances in which they work, and whether they were successful in their position (Northouse, 2009). This approach is also known to predict a leaders' effectiveness to particular task situations, which would've been beneficial for Borders considering the company's inability to keep leaders in their positions longer than 2 years. The contingency model qualifies the usefulness of group leaders to help motivate individual leaders in their particular situations, which they are assigned (Richard, Butler & Charles, 2004).
    Action plan. Research has been conducted on the approach to implementing action plans for existing companies adapting to new environments. Leaders in top management positions take on the challenge of predicting potential environmental conditions and making decisions based on the conditions (Drejer, 2002). This type of approach is described by researchers as innovation management and involves several action plans:

    1)Technological integration - the integration of product markets and technology, and the emphasis on satisfying
    the customers with new product advances (Drejer, 2002).

    2)The process of innovation - the process of implementing innovation activities throughout all departments. For
    this reason, there is no one department that should focus on innovation, it is a collective effort for the
    entire organization (Drejer, 2002).

    3)Strategic technological planning - the planning of projects focusing on achieving technological competencies
    and including them in a management portfolio (Drejer, 2002).

    4)Organizational change - to embrace the need for new ideas, new employees, and new processes (Drejer, 2002).

    5)Business development - creating new and improved ways of generating new business (Drejer, 2002).

    Conclusion:

    In sum, the past leaders of Borders Groups, Inc. mistakenly overlooked, choose to ignore, or didn't know how to combat the internal and external environmental changes facing the company. The first sign of these changes resulted in the lack of innovation in retail books sales. Had leaders conducted research on the internal and external environment the outcome might be different. As leaders, the proper diagnosis and analysis of problems is critical for the decision making process. In addition to taking immediate action, leaders can also focus on resolving problems within the group dynamics of the organization or resolving problems outside the group dynamics. Effective team leadership should consistently focus on both task and maintenance functions. According to research studies both types of leadership behaviors; task focused and maintenance focused have been found to be related to apparent team effectiveness. However, the inability to manage change through leadership will reverse any positive effectiveness to the organization. The initial approach adopted by Borders was that of change management instead of change leadership. The problem with Borders was its inability to change with the market, and in the case of Borders, going from a brick and mortar company to an internet and electronics company. The change management practice does not alert leaders of the external factors in the market which may cause damage to an organization in the future. Although, further research should be conducted on this notion of change management and to explain the relationship between the effects of change management versus change leadership and the processes of effective change leadership.

    References:

    Borders group: Borders group announces management changes including new CEO; Holiday sales results also reported. (2009, January). Investment Weekly News. Retrieved from https://login.libproxy.edmc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/200999347?accountid=34899.

    Borders group names heim president of borders books and music and borders.com. (2000, Jan 20). PR Newswire. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/447862744?accountid=34899

    Borders group consolidates corporate management; eliminates several positions. (2009, Feb 03). PR Newswire. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/450574077?accountid=34899

    Borders books liquidation shows change management doesn't work, says change leadership expert. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/7/prweb8652866.htm

    Drejer, A. (2002). Situations for innovation management: Towards a contingency model. European Journal of Innovation Management, 5(1), 4-17. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211786437?accountid=34899

    Northouse, Peter G. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice [5] (VitalSource Bookshelf), Retrieved from http://digitalbookshelf.argosy.edu/books/9781412989282/id/c11-fig-0001

    Richard, L. M., Butler, J., & Charles, J. C. (2004). Fellowership effectiveness: An extension of fiedler's contingency model. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 25(3), 362-368. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226926753?accountid=34899

    What lessons are these for small business?. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.themarketingbit.com/small-business/marketing-lessons-from-borders-book-store

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