Analysis of Strategic Leadership at Coca-Cola: The Real Thing
The Main Theme of the Article
The article by Rowe and Riaz (2008) titled Strategic Leadership at Coca-Cola: The Real Thing explores one primary theme of leadership, using Coca Cola as a case study. Over the last several decades, the company has been managed by a number of leaders, each of them leaving a characteristic legacy. The ones covered in the case are Robert Goizueta, Douglas Ivester, Douglas Daft, Edward Neville Isdell, and Muhtar Kent (Rowe & Riaz, 2008). Discussing the manner in which each of these CEOs ran the company, Rowe and Riaz (2008) demonstrated various styles of leadership in practice, where Robert Goizueta outperformed the rest, and as such, a lot can be learnt about what made his leadership style successful.
Challenges the Article is Responding to
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The challenge that the article is responding to is that of ineffective leadership. At the beginning, the authors discuss three types of leaders, namely managerial, visionary, and strategic (Rowe & Riaz, 2008). The first two have some drawbacks in their style of leadership, which can be to blame for the limited performance of organizations. Rowe and Riaz (2008) avoid depicting actions of any of the covered leaders as outright dismal, but one can tell that some of them employed either managerial or visionary leadership and failed to leave a legacy similar to Robert Goizuetas one. Rowe and Riaz (2008) cover strategies used by each leader for the reader to be able to identify challenges characterizing them and to try to diagnose a problem. One particular outcome of the latter is that the stock price of Coca Cola almost stalled during the leadership of Goizuetas successors. The three of them together managed to increase the index by 11.6% only as compared to Goizuetas tenure, during which it grew by 582% (Rowe & Riaz, 2008). Therefore, Goizuetas leadership is clearly outstanding, whereas that of his successors appears deficient in some ways.
Solutions Provided in the Article
To provide answers to leadership problems that faced Coca Cola following the untimely death of Goizueta, Rowe and Riaz (2008) explore each of his successors leadership styles in depth. They do not specifically state what each leader did wrong, but one can deduce reasons for problems and avoid such, as well as compare their leadership to that of Goizueta. The latter was a strategic leader. One evident thing is that he readily delegated tasks and only performed the function of influencing those responsible for their fulfillment, just like a strategic leader described by the authors. For instance, although he was competing with Donald Keough for the position of CEO, once he had taken it, he readily accepted his rivals contribution by asking him to serve as a COO. Goizueta was later quoted saying that, The day of the one-man band is gone (Rowe & Riaz, 2008, p. 3). Since strategic leadership is a combination of both visionary and managerial aspects, the visionary constituent part can be seen in his readiness to take risks as long as the goal he was pursuing was going to improve Coca Cola.
On the contrary, Douglas Ivester can be best described as a managerial leader. He does not seem to have been comfortable with delegating tasks going as far as visiting shops to question why Coca Cola drinks were not displayed properly. He was preoccupied with companys performance with little measures taken to secure its future (Rowe & Riaz, 2008). These characteristics can also be observed during Douglas Dafts tenure. The leader who appears to have gone closer to Goizuetas leadership style is Edward Isdell. Even though his performance did not match that of Guizueta, his leadership was more strategic than that of the other three. He oversaw a steady rise in Coca-Colas profits and put adequate focus on the companys future performance (Rowe & Riaz, 2008). In essence, by comparing the leadership styles of the four leaders, Rowe and Riaz (2008) shed light on where the answers to Coca-Colas leadership problems upon the death of Guizueta can be found.
The Way in Which the Solutions Address Strategic Leadership Explored in the Course
The leadership solutions provided in the article, particularly those that characterize Goizuetas leadership, relate significantly to strategic leadership explored in the course. I have learnt that strategic leaders influence the commitment of other stakeholders to steering the organization in a strategic direction (Beatty, 2010). Goizuetas leadership is notable because he did not seek to dominate Coca Cola or try to manipulate other leaders working with him. Rather, he influenced them by offering more intellectual and less hands-on leadership. In fact, Goizueta only visited six countries out of all hosting Coca Colas operations globally (Rowe & Riaz, 2008). It depicts a leader showing his subordinates the right way of thinking and giving them the freedom to execute their thoughts, as explored in the course. Strategic leadership is also about understanding the styles, needs, and motivation of those one works with (Beatty, 2010). It means reducing the domination over employees. Here, one can compare the performance of Goizueta with that of Ivester and note that the first one was more of a strategic leader.
The Integration of Learning into My Role as a Leader and Manager
From the reading, it is clear that a strategic leader is not only much better in the way of relating with subordinates, but also in steering an organization towards success. Just like Goizueta, I will put into consideration both the current and the future performance of my organization. Also, just like a strategic leader, I will influence the commitment of my subordinates as opposed to dominating the way they execute their duties. That way, I will not have to push anyone to perform tasks in a certain way because they will already know what they need to do.