Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) is a multinational manufacturer of automotive with its headquarters in Japan. It is the largest automotive maker in the world by volume and some of its brands include Daihatsu, Lexus, Hino and Ranz. In terms of size, the global company's corporate structure in 2017 consisted of about 364, 445 employees and had earlier been ranked fifth in the world's largest companies by revenue. Toyota was founded in 1937 and has been in business for eighty years. Regarding its location, the organization enjoys a strong global presence in the auto industry which includes the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and other countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The organization has a longstanding reputation for its quality, fuel-efficient, low-cost and reliable vehicles.
Akio Toyoda's Leadership Styles and Characteristics
Akio Toyoda is the president and a board member of Toyota Motor Corporation. The leadership style of Toyoda can be described as transformational. Transformational leadership refers to the style of leadership that is based on inspiration and emotional appeal (Boehm & Staples, 2005; Matzler, 2008). In other words, transformational leadership focuses on inspiring the entire organization while affecting the employees' belief by collecting their wills and encouraging the workers to perform to the vision of their leader. In a transformational leadership style, the leaders motivate employees through the synchronization of the leadership's vision with the workforce.
Toyoda's vision is to have the company build practical, reliable and affordable vehicles for consumers. He believes that this is basically what the mainstream consumer wants and, therefore, the entire organization should be determined to give the same. In Toyoda's view, previously, the company over concentrated on high technology that is superior but costly. He also criticized the former management for being too excited in market expansion and the involvement of few top executives in the decision-making process. Toyoda has expressed his determination to bring changes in the company and has been pushing the automobile's global standing among its competitors, which has played a key role in Toyota's expansion outside its Japanese roots. This is a clear demonstration that Toyoda is single-minded to introduce changes even if it means changing the entire organization's concept. The company's CEO ensures that all employees have a clear understanding of change as a necessity and how it exemplifies his vision. Consequently, employees in Toyota have embraced their leader's idea of change which is key to achieving Toyoda's vision of transforming the organization.
Toyoda has also demonstrated a number of transformational characteristics throughout his tenure. For instance, he is always visible and stands up rather than hiding behind his junior managers. Toyoda also shows by action and attitude how all Toyota employees should behave. Additionally, the Toyota's president continuously motivates his employees while rallying them and constantly listening, doing the rounds, enthusing and soothing them. The leadership style and characteristics displayed by Toyoda can determine effective leadership by developing a learning climate within an organization while enabling the company to enthusiastically respond to changes in the business external environment. Using the idealized influence leaders with a similar character promote a positive organizational culture through collaboration, learning, value for employees and trust (Boehm & Staples, 2005).
My Leadership Styles and Characteristics Compared To Those of Toyoda
Similar to Toyoda's, I believe that my leadership style and characteristics can best be described as transformational. This is because, in line with the transformational leadership description given by Boehm and Staples (2005), I always try to inspire people to perform to their level best, even beyond what they consider their normal capacities. Therefore, I see myself as a transformational leader who achieves compliance by coaching and empowering my subordinates. Also, my primary focus as a leader is the fulfillment of the organizational interests which serve a common good to everyone in the firm. Further, I believe that change is key to the success of any organization which I try to achieve the intrinsic motivation of my employees.
In accordance with the transformational leadership characteristics highlighted by Matzler et al. (2008), I always display idealized influence in my leadership role as well as other key characteristics such inspiring, clarifying expectations, motivating, proactive as well as leading with vision. The comparison of my own leadership style and characteristics to those of Toyota's CEO help identify what is necessary for effective leadership by showing how this specific leadership style and characteristics have enabled Toyoda to materialize the organizational objectives of Toyota which has significantly contributed in making the company a success.
How Environmental and Societal Factors Might Influence My Approach to Leadership
Environmental and societal factors such as innovation and politics influence the manner in which leadership is approached. In my case, a leadership role at Toyota would imply a huge responsibility in relation to environmental pollution regulation. It is the responsibility of the company's top leadership to ensure that by-products are appropriately handled while making sure that the innovation of a new product does not negatively affect the ecology of my company's area of operation. Additionally, as the company's top leadership, it is crucial to consider the politics of the day. As a matter of fact, interest groups from the political divide affect the decision-making process of organizations. As such, I would put some extra leadership efforts to ensure proper measures are put in place to take care of the environmental factors. Regarding influence from politics, I would adopt an authoritarian leadership style to ensure that political matters do not find their way into the company. However, I would adopt a different leadership style if I was in a different organization type. For instance, a non-profit organization would require a different style of leadership whereby depending on the scenario at hand, various styles such as the autocratic, participative, laissez-faire or transactional leadership can be applied.
How Economic Conditions Might Influence My Approach to Leadership
My approach to leadership might be influenced by the economic conditions in which my organization operates. This is because economic conditions are said to have a strong influence when it comes to for-profit organizations. In this regard, my leadership approach would be based on factors such as cost-effectiveness, profits, and human capital. Further, my leadership style would change during the time of a strong or declining economy. This is because it is never advisable to keep doing the same thing over and over again, but rather one should embrace change in accordance with the current business environment. This implies that my leadership style would involve some flexibility whereby I would be constantly involved in looking for ways to improve my organization's performance irrespective of a declining economy. This includes looking for ways to leverage the company's assets while investing in research and development. As aforementioned, it is advisable to always embrace change in organizational leadership irrespective of normalcy. Thus, I would change my leadership style depending on the organization's maturation phase. In other words, my leadership style would evolve as the organization goes through the different maturation phases. Consequently, as the organization moves from a start-up through growth to an established business, my leadership style would change to accommodate any changes that would be helpful in improving performance which key for the success of any organization.
Boehm, A., & Staples, L. (2005). Grassroots leadership in task-oriented groups: Learning from successful leaders. Social work with groups, 28(2), 77-96.
Matzler, K., Schwarz, E., Deutinger, N., & Harms, R. (2008). The relationship between transformational leadership, product innovation and performance in SMEs. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 21(2), 139-151.
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