CEOs and Presidents

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Introduction

Influence processes are the methods used by leaders to give strategic leadership required both for the long-term and the day-to-day management of organizations since it is expected of them to be at the forefront of an organization’s strategic efforts.  Nevertheless, the direction and kind of decisions made by any leader has a great influence on an organization’s performance including the motivation levels and behavior of  the employees in that particular organization or institution.  Leaders generally develop certain processes which they use to influence and change the organizations or institutions that they lead (Pfeffer, 2003).

The influence processes that leaders  employ in order to chart  the strategic course and manage the performance of an organization are: direct  decisions where a leader determines the strategies and actions that are important for an organization’s vision and mission such as making key appointments; resource allocation where leaders make decisions on how and where technological, monetary, and human resources are utilized; reward systems where leaders  enforce exemplary performance or behavior by giving incentives such as bonuses, recognition, and promotion of talented employees; and role modeling where leaders  try to impact the organizations  through their own positive behavior  and personalities.

The upshot of a leader’s  values and conduct will hence be an organization’s strategic effectiveness or vice versa which means that there is  a direct relation between individual leadership characteristics and organizational performance all of which are obviously affected by an organization’s competitive environment.(Hambrick & Mason, 1984). However, factors such as a leader’s career background, experience, age, and cognitive bases greatly affect influence processes.

CEOs and Presidents

Andrea Jung, a much celebrated executive who has curved out a niche for herself in the American corporate scene began her career at Bloomingdale's as a trainee manager. There, she has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills having managed to assert her prowess as a capable CEO.  From Bloomingdale’s, Jung moved to I. Magnin stores, then to Neiman Marcus where she was the executive vice president for merchandising.  Her major career break came when she landed a consultancy job at Avon Products where her exceptional   skills again opened up a chance to be the president of product marketing.  At Avon, Jung carried on with the organization’s traditional branding techniques, at the same time, unveiling new products. In her efforts to influence the strategic direction of the organizations she leads, Jung demonstrates outstanding ability to use direct decision as an influence process with highly positive outcomes.

As a president of the product marketing group at Avon, she made decisions that had great impact such as the introduction of the Avon apparel line that was highly successful, the proposal to replace several of Avon’s old perfume brands with new ones as well as the introduction of more innovative marketing pitch. Jung also put to use the reward system and a personal belief in family values to motivate employees by creating an environment where parents were able to take a break from work so as to take care of their children but provided that work was not impacted on negatively.

The above mentioned method shows the use of incentives for performance where an employee is given non-monetary reward, in this case, time-off with one’s children, at the same time being tied to performance expectations. As a result, this leads to higher motivation levels, because employees will feel that the organization they work for does not rob them of time from their families and is flexible enough to accord them the special opportunity to attend to non-work related activities during work time. The outcome of Jung’s leadership style was highly effective especially at Avon until the organization was hit by allegations of non-ethical behavior that led to her replacement. Jung also believes in role modeling what she demonstrated when she outlined her belief that leaders on the offence and not on the defense were the ones to succeed during hard economic times.

Indra Nooyi who joined Pepsi Company in 1994 and, in 2001, became the president and CFO also demonstrates strong decision-making abilities as a way of influencing organizational behavior.  This is seen from the way Nooyi restructured PepsiCo's including the divestiture of the company’s restaurants into Tricon in 1997, now known as Yum! Brands. Also, Nooyi took the forefront position in the decision-making processes at PepsiCo   Tropicana in 1998, and mergering with Quaker Oats Company that added the Gatorade brand to PepsiCo. Nooyi used direct decision to influence the strategic position of PepsiCo as she was the one who engineered PepsiCo’s performance with the purpose to conduct its business ethically by doing what is right for people and the environment. 

Nooyi also has taken direct decisions as the CEO of PepsiCo by giving directives that were meant to ensure sustained growth that had a strong focus on performance, environment, and talent sustainability but with a human touch. She also allocated a considerable amount of resources towards this and other transformations such as committing a considerable amount of man hours and money to manufacturing healthy products,  all of which have borne great results. The outcome of her efforts was the listing of PepsiCo on the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index and Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. 

On the other hand, Brenda Barnes whose extensive career has been highly successful has held various positions in several organizations where she has shown how to influence organizations and employees positively by using influence processes. She has held positions at Wilson Sporting Goods as a business manager and at Frito-Lay as a vice president of marketing among others. Brenda Barnes became the president and COO of Sara Lee Corp in July 2004. In February 2005, she became the President and CEO of Sara Lee, and in October 2005, she was made a Chairman and CEO. Barnes made the decision to shift Sara Lee's headquarters out of downtown Chicago to suburban Downers Grove that was a clear demonstration of a direct decision. Barnes also uses listening skills a lot in managing the day-to-day operations. She is not quick to anger. People who work with her say that Brenda never shouts. She uses such leadership quality like consensus-building which is usually attributed to women

Conclusion

By utilizing these processes, senior leaders in essence create an image of their own personal style, values, preferences, and experience in the organizations they lead. The results they achieve by these methods can, therefore, be directly attributed to their personalities as well as how competent they are at employing influence processes techniques in shaping organization’s strategies and setting the direction and pace towards the implementation of the strategies, evaluating results, and charting new courses of action.

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