The impact of gender on leadership continues to gain interest as issues such as affirmative action, motivation, gender equality, corporate social responsibility, and cultural diversification shape the nature of human resource management (HRM) or strategic management in the business world (Thomas & Lazarova 2013). Female managers have different leadership styles than their male counterparts. The female managers tend to run companies based on feminine principles. That is to say, the female leaders tend to manage organizations according to the principles of making intuitive decisions, caring, the flexibility from hierarchy, consideration of work as part of life, focus on labour for survival, and taking responsibility of the environment around the entity by using its profits appropriately. Evidently, successful managers are vastly characterised with male traits such as aggressiveness, competitiveness, self-confidence, decisiveness, and independence.
The challenge with mapping the differences between men and women in managing organisations is that successful male leadership stereotype is engraved in the organizational culture that female leaders are forced to adapt to it, hence confusing research results. This paper analyses the difference between men and women in managing organisations, precisely the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra and the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda. Emphasis is placed on three management aspects: Motivation, Leadership, and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Motivation and Leadership of the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra
Mary Barra assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at GM effectual from January 2014 (General Motors 2014). Under her direction, the company strived to become a global automotive giant in automotive design, technology, product quality, and safety. Mary Barra is a transformational leader in various aspects. Barra acknowledges that the corporate culture does not change quickly but it is critical to have a high culture to motivate employees and create an environment that breeds success. Her leadership style is based on a principle that the corporate culture distinguishes entities that have maintained a significant market share for decades from the average entities. During her leadership the GM has developed three core values: ‘the customer is our compass, relationships matter and individual excellence is crucial’ (Barra 2015). Thus, Barra stresses the need to be proactive in relationship building other than misleading the stakeholders with sound advertisements (Mooney 2014). She points out that relationships should be created and maintained because no one knows what relationships may turn out to be essential as the company moves forward.
Dealing with the management, leadership, and motivation issues within a culturally diverse business environment like GM is a demanding endeavour due to the complexities that emerge in a diversified environment. Socialisation of new employees in any entity creates paradox of diversity (De Bono & Van Der Heijden 2011). Mary Barra has demonstrated her decisiveness and ability to deal with multi-cultural complexities by managing all the distributed entities of GM with ease since January 2014. Since then, Barra has been at the center of managing an ignition switch safety crisis. As of December 2014, the crisis was linked to 32 deaths and a recall of vehicles. Barry argued that there was no single effective way to manage diversity in an organisation, and the organisational strategy depended on the pressure of diversity, managerial attitudes and the type of diversity in question (Mooney 2014). As noted by Mooney (2014), Barra’s self-confidence and flexible strategic responses for managing cultural diversity at General Motors is presented in the frameworks of inclusive, proactive, reactive and defensive modes.
According to Mooney (2014) and in line with the social-technical theory, Barra noted that the changes in any organisation should be planned with due regard to the dynamics of the social system. In congruence with Johnson (2007), Barra noted that an entity should be treated as a social system, which is influenced by economic and social dimensions. Therefore, the managers responsible for implementing change under her leadership ensure that such business transformation is integratedinto the social fabric of General Motors. It is also of the essence to focus on the economic factors in play: if the ethnic minorities think that they are not being remunerated as well as the other groups of employees, the economic factors may affect the ability of such employees to embrace the cultural diversity (Ordonez & Patricia 2013).
In her leadership and motivational strategies, she ensures that there is enough motivation for the organisational leadership. Her management team plays a greater role in motivating employees to embrace each other regardless of the fact that they come from different backgrounds. Such an initiative can only come from the top. The top managers must be at the frontline in establishing a culture of diversity within the organisation (Christiansen 2013). In organisations where different communities embrace each other, the top leaders must be at the centre of this culture where they actively show their juniors how to interact and embrace people from different communities and backgrounds. Apart from motivation, Barry pointed that introducing a new culture in the organisation is important and that there should be a culture of tolerance and collaboration between employees in order to ensure that all the workers are treated equitably and justly (Greene & Kirton 2010; Mooney 2014).
Motivation and Leadership of the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda is the President as well as a member of the Board of Toyota Corporation (Toyoda 2014; Toyota Motor Corporation 2014). Prior to his current position at Toyota, his career history includes positions in almost all automotive operations, including marketing, production and product development carried out both locally and internationally. Akio Toyoda is an apt example of a transformational leader in the automotive industry because he has provided the vision and mission for the contemporary Toyota Motors (Toyota Motor Corporation 2014). This attribute of leadership is often referred to as charisma. Toyoda has idealised leadership in the company’s lean philosophy within its supply chain. In this context, the direction of Toyoda has defined clear principles and practices that suppliers emulate at their tiers. In the same line, Toyota has provided a set of guidelines to support its suppliers as they achieve their optimal capacity. The idealised influence of the company has become an active aspect of its culture and expanded to entities outsides the Toyota’s supply chain. Consequentially, Toyoda’s leadership has been able to motivate his followers and other stakeholders around a shared vision of the company’s future. Furthermore, his inspirational motivation has enabled Toyota’s management team to convey team spirit and improve performance expectations.
A review of Toyota strategies for managing staff and workers under the leadership of Toyoda revealed the significance of creating synergy within the organisation (Toyota Motor Corporation 2014). Maintaining good synergy among Toyota employees is the best chance in ensuring that the diversity is transformed into a competitive advantage.Toyoda has achieved cultural synergy within the organization’s workforce by eliminating cultural dominance and increased the cultural accommodation within the enterprise. The minority ethnic groups have been accommodated in Toyota’s management and leadership processes to ensure that they are assimilatedinto the organisation. When such minority groups are assimilated within the company, they can work better with others to improve creativity and collaboration with other employees.
Achieving such synergy required the application of different leadership strategies within the company. The leadership style of Toyota was more bureaucratic before Toyoda took over: there were processes and restrictions that inhibited the organisational initiatives. The adopted democratic leadership is advantageous since it sets the background for creating opportunities for the development of individuals and transparentising the processes. The democratic approach by Toyoda has also improved accountability and responsibility within the organisation. Charismatic leadership has benefited the situation since it ignited the passion of employees to work harmoniously. The charismatic leadership at Toyota has served as a motivational tool. Toyoda has motivated employees towards greater harmony and collaboration (Paludi 2012).
Toyota and GM Corporate Social Responsibility
The corporate social responsibility (CSR) involves applying the concept of sustainable development to the strategic management. Typically, the automotive companies open and maintain a dialog with their host communities as a strategy to ensure that the enterprise coexists harmoniously with the immediate community. As noted on their respective websites, the commitment of both Barra and Toyoda to corporate social responsibility have translated into concrete activities in favour of sustainable development, which are aligned with their respective corporate values and the management policies (GM 2014; Toyota Motor Corporation 2014). For example, Toyota and GM are committed to producing secure and affordable supply of automotives, which makes transporters important players within their industries.
Within the first few months of Bara’s tenure as the CEO, GM had recalled over 28 million vehicles subject to faulty ignition system in most of its models. In response to the crisis, Barra highlihgted that GM customers deserve better than the delivered vehicle. Subsequently, she had set new standards for vehicle, excellence, quality and safety (Frank 2014). This is in illustration of how aggressive and strategic she is in terms of influencing changes whenever it is apparoriate. Further, she had recognised that besides the business intent to make profits, the copany was reponsible for the safety and well being of its customers and the society as a whole. The two CEO’s acknowledge that CSR is an ongoing process and a management process founded on principles, commitments, and values which orient initiatives in favour of a sustainable development. A sustained dialog between the two companies and their stakeholders serves as a platform through which the corporate social responsibility processes integrate the economic, social and environmental concerns into the management structures of the enterprises.
According to Toyoda (2014), the origins of Toyota are traced to the founding principle of giving back to the society by manufacturing automobiles. Both Toyoda and Barra appreciate that sustainable development entails meeting the present needs without affecting the ability of the future generation to achieve their needs. It follows that a sustainable design involves processes that create socially, economically and environmentally friendly products . To Barra and Toyoda, CSR is more than a concept of strategic management. Notably, the approaches of CSR management in both companies are based on the visionary management indices of the companies. Toyoda and Barra have made efforts to contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities in which they operate. Toyota is known to work with suppliers and dealers through sustainable development systems for mutually beneficial processes.
The CEO of GM, Mary Barra and the CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda are apt examples of the contemporary strategic leaders in the automotive industry. Arguably management in the contemporary business realm is almost similar in terms of leadership, motivation, and the corporate social responsibility. It is evident from the analysis above that the two CEOs are transformational leaders because their leadership style is characterized by their intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, individualised concern, and idealised influence. The two CEOs have focused on transformational leadership because it engages them and their followers, which improves the level of motivation and overall performance. In this type of leadership, Barra and Toyoda attend to the needs and motives of their stakeholders. They also assist their stakeholders to reach their optimal potential. The transformational leaders have demonstrated their influence and ability to bring the desired change to the automotive industry where employee engagement and the corporate social responsibility are critical aspects of the successful companies. Globalisation and social drivers of CSR gives rise to sustainable development initiatives in these companies. Both leaders appreciate that corporate social responsibility is a continuingprocess, and a strategic management initiative founded on principles and values which adjust company programs in favour of sustainable development. A sustained relationship between the companies and their stakeholders serves as a platform through which the corporate social responsibility processes incorporate economic, social and environmental concerns of the stakeholders.
Despite many similarities in their management approach, Toyoda emerges as a conservationist, which is a combination of sensing and judgmental. On the other hand, Barra emerges as more intuitive and complemented by both emotions as catalysts and critical thinking as visionaries. Therefore, gender is not a significant differentiator of managerial performance between men and women. However, the organisational culture and the leadership style of the CEOs play a critical role in the performance of their respective organizations. The two CEOs respond differently to market dynamics not because of their gender or the difference in personalities but due to the contextual pressures. In the present competitive automotive industry, typified with globalised and diversified organisations such as Toyota and General Motors, CEOs are chiefly required to achieve consistency of performance. Both male and female managers are adept at responding to these challenges. Motivating their employees to increase sales and to provide higher quality of the service requires the CEOs to improve employee engagement and the internal communications. As of consequence, both CEOs have turned their internal diversities into unique strengths and competitive advantages. In essence, survival and a prosperity strategy matters more than gender.