Tag Archives: Leadership

Does ethics exist in business?


Since several years, the term “business ethics” has been used and discussed daily in the media, mission statements, political speeches and in the business and academic world (Mullins 2013, De George 2014).

Several unethical business events happened the latest years. For example, Enron’s fraud scandal where accountancy rules were manipulated and enormous losses were hidden, Tesco’s horsemeat scandal, the Libor scandal in the financial services sector and the collapse of the apparel factory in Bangladesh where Primark produced their clothes and 1,100 people were killed (Forbes 2013, Burke 2013, Uzel 2013). Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French former chief of IMF sexually attacked a hotel maid in 2011 when she tried to clean his room (Williams 2012).

As a result of the increasing scandals in the business world, there’s a rising awareness of ethics and social conscience. Customers demand higher ethical standards. Furthermore, they want products that don’t destroy the planet or clothes that don’t come from a sweatshop (Mullins 2013, Uzel 2013). Additionally, in many universities the subject Business Ethics has been implemented as an academic discipline to impose values (Berinde and Andreescu 2013). Furthermore, governments imply legislations concerning ethics such as anti-bullying and equal treatment laws (Perryer and Scott-Ladd 2013).


What does business ethics mean?

Business ethics focuses on the set of individual and collectively rules, actions and moral standards achieving the economic goals of a company (De George 2014, Berinde and Andreescu 2013).

 An ethical company has shareholder and as well stakeholder view. A company should not only have the goal of making high profit and remuneration for staff but it has as well a social responsibility (Mullins 2013). The implication of ethics can promote the sustainable development and strategy of a company and consequently give the business a competitive advantage (Berinde and Andreescu 2013). A company obtains a positive corporate image by using renewable resources, not employing child labour in its factories and providing good training and development for staff (Mullins 2013). As a consequence, this positive brand image will be good for sales.

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An ethical company represents reliability, honesty and trustworthy and serves stakeholders inside and outside the company (Mullins 2013). Business ethics also has to do with accepting diversity, respecting human rights, labour standards, the environment and no corruption (Mullins 2013). Moreover, Corporate Social Responsibility means as well transparency and openness, contribution to the communities, safety of products, unambiguous information and providing excellent products and services to your customers (Mullins 2013).

The good examples

Ethisphere ranked the World’s Most Ethical Companies of 2014. For example, in the apparel industry Gap Inc, Hennes & Mauritz AB and Levi and Strauss & Co are recognized as companies doing business ethically (Ethisphere 2014).

In 2003, the Co-operative group launched a new ethical strategy for 5 years in order to become “The Most Socially Responsible Business In UK” (Bertini 2013). The number of women on their board will be increased, higher animal standards required and local communities will be helped (Bertini 2013).

In the video, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson states that businesses need profit to survive but also have to give back to society and solve the world’s problems.

Ethical leadership

In order to further improve ethical business, managers can adopt ethical leadership by setting out an ethical mission statement and code of conduct. Furthermore,the ethical leader can change the value and beliefs of a company to more ethical ones (Mullins 2013). When hiring employees, managers should attract candidates with ethical views in line with the organisations values (Mc Ferran, Aquino and Duffy 2010). He can ask a candidate during the interview which actions he or she would take to improve ethics in the company. Additionally, managers have to identify aspects of the organisation that need further ethical improvement and set ethics as a corporate value (Mullins 2013).

The bad examples


An example of an unethical company is the Belgian company Lernout and Hauspie founded in 1987. The company developed speech-recognition technology and had promising future perspectives to become global leader in its market. In 1995 it was noted on the Nasdaq stock exchange and thousands of technology investors and Belgian share buyers put their money in the company (Forelle and Maremont 2010). Until in 2000, the first doubts came ahead when a Wall Street Journal investigation found that the company’s profit numbers were far to positive (Forelle and Maremont 2010). In 2001 the company was declared bankrupt because of wrong revenue records in the financial statements and fraudulent bookings of South Korean customers (Forelle and Maremont 2010). Founders were given sentences of 5 years and shareholders lost all their invested money (Forelle and Maremont 2010). US company ScanSoft Inc acquired Lernout and Hauspie’s scan software (Forelle and Maremont 2010).

 Lernout and Hauspie clearly didn’t have an ethical organisational culture and didn’t treat their stakeholders and shareholders with the highest moral principles, integrity and neither with dignity (Perryer and Scott-Ladd 2013).

 A solution to avoid those situations in the future could be for businesses to set out codes, rules and conducts. These rules could be about fair dealing with customers, employees, suppliers and protection and proper use of the company assets (Hopkins 2013). These can give a clear guidance and direction to employees about what is expected from them and it sends a message to the outside world about the company’s standards (Mullins 2013). However I argue whether the set code of conduct will be used in the daily work routine and if it’s not only about theory. For example, in the 3 hotels where I worked, the first day I had to quickly read and sign a code of conduct but afterwards I never took a look back at it again. Employees may hear a companies’ mission statement about ethics but when the “communication fanfare” is over, what is left and what will be implied in the organisation (Mullins 2013)?

 Lance Armstrong is an example of an unethical public figure. Finally in 2013, after years of denials, he told via Oprah that he doped. The cyclist who survived cancer denied for 13 years and called people who accused him “liars” (Fry 2013). After that, he lost all his major sponsors and stopped the activities of his Livestrong foundation (Fry 2013). Because of his unethical behaviour, Lance lost respect from his fans and sponsors, he got a bad image and lost profitability.

Personal conclusion

From my point of view, a company should not only measure financial indicators against the competition but as well the broader performance with the Corporate Social Responsibility View (Mullins 2013). Businesses should imply ethics in order to adapt a positive brand image because everyone has quick access to a wealth of information about your company and it can affect the company’s brand image. Businesses should combine their strategy with business ethics.

Governments play a large role in promoting business ethics by implying legislation and interventions. They should fight against corruption, make laws on child labour and restraint from trading. For example, in 2012 the US banned BP because of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill (Financial Executive 2013).

 A challenge could be that companies write an ethical statement but don’t take the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) serious. And what about a company in recession, should they spend money on CSR and worry about it? Is an ethically attractive company too idealistic? Will such a company survive in the current competitive global market? Moreover, employees can see ethical behaviour through different norms and standards (Perryer and Scott-Ladd 2013). For example, one person could think that frequent use of office supplies for personal use is not an abuse while others could think it is unethical and intolerable.

I can only support ethical and organic brands and hope one day every mission statement about ethics and code of conduct will be applied not only in theory but as well in practise.



Berinde, M. and Andreescu, A. (2013) ‘Business Ethics Implementation In The Organizational Culture Of Companies.’ Annals of the University of Oradea Economic Science Series [Online]22 (1), 44-53. Available from<http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f7f99992-0f34-4fb3-beba-cd112cffda72%40sessionmgr4001&vid=7&hid=4207&gt; [05/06/2014]

Bertini, I. (2013) ‘Co-operative launches new ethical plan’ [Online] Available from <http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/2013/03/14/co-operative-launches-new-ethical-plan/> [05/06/2014]

Burke, J. (2014) ‘Rana Plaza: one year on from the Bangladesh factory disaster’ [Online] Available from <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/19/rana-plaza-bangladesh-one-year-on&gt; [05/06/2014]

De George, R. T. (2014) A History of Business Ethics [Online] Available from <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/business/conference/presentations/business-ethics-history.html&gt; [05/06/2014]

De Standaard (2011) ‘Lernout & Hauspie: from hero to zero’ [Online] Available from <http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20110724_109&gt; [05/06/2014]

Ethisphere (2014) World’s Most Ethical Companies – Honorees [Online] Available from <http://ethisphere.com/worlds-most-ethical/wme-honorees/&gt; [05/06/2014]

Forbes (2013) ‘5 Most Publicized Ethic Violations By CEOs’ [Online] Available from <http://www.forbes.com/sites/investopedia/2013/02/05/5-most-publicized-ethics-violations-by-ceos/&gt; [05/06/2014]

Forelle, C. and Maremont, M. (2010) ‘Lernout & Hauspie Founders Guilty in Fraud’ [Online]Available from <http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703989304575503500899087566&gt; [05/06/2014]

Fry, E. (2013) 11 most scandalous business events of 2013 [Online] Available from <http://fortune.com/2013/12/27/11-most-scandalous-business-events-of-2013/&gt; [05/06/2014]

Hopkins, S. (2013) ‘How Effective Are Ethics Codes and Programs?’ Financial Executive [Online] 29 (2), 42-45. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=8&sid=f7f99992-0f34-4fb3-beba-cd112cffda72%40sessionmgr4001&hid=4207&gt; [05/06/2014]

McFerran, B., Aquino, K. and Duffy, M. (2010) ‘How Personality and Moral Identity Relate to Individual’s Ethical Ideology.’ Business Ethics Quarterly [Online] 20(1), 35-65. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f7f99992-0f34-4fb3-beba-cd112cffda72%40sessionmgr4001&vid=8&hid=4207&gt; [05/06/2014]

Murray-West,R. (2013) Co-op Bank is losing its ethical edge [Online] Available from <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/consumertips/banking/10135338/Co-op-Bank-is-losing-its-ethical-edge.html&gt; [05/06/2014]

Perryer, C. and Scott-Ladd, B. (2013) ‘Deceit, Misuse and Favours: Understanding and Measuring Attitudes to Ethics.’ Journal of Business Ethics [Online] 121 (1), 123-134. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f7f99992-0f34-4fb3-beba-cd112cffda72%40sessionmgr4001&vid=8&hid=4207&gt; [05/06/2014]

Uzel, S. (2013) ‘Scandals put ethics on agenda for global business’ [Online] Available from <http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/business-news/scandals-put-ethics-on-agenda-for-global-business-1-6169337&gt; [05/06/2014]

Williams, M. (2012) ‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn settles sexual assault case with hotel maid’ [Online]Available from <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/10/dominique-strauss-kahn-case-settled&gt; [05/06/2014]









Don’t hold on to the good old days, embrace innovation

Why change management?

Why is it necessary to change in business instead of holding on to the past? Because of the globalisation, constant change of supply and demand, changing business environments, market maturation, increasing costs and competition, the desire to improve and grow as a company, development of new services, keeping your business move forward, developments in technology, … (Halkos 2012, Raynor and Mumtaz 2013, De Smet, Lavoie and Hioe 2012, Riwo-Abudho, Njanja and Ochieng 2012, Quiros 2014). Fully convinced now? We can conclude that change is inevitable and necessary to succeed in the current business environment (Quiros 2014).

The master of change: Richard Branson


The Virgin Group is an example of change management within an organisation. Entrepreneur and founder Richard Branson, innovated, diversified and acquired many businesses (Australian Business Solutions 2012). He took many risks to bring out new and better products. Branson states that when circumstances and opportunities have changed, it is time to renew and give a new direction to the company (Branson 2011). Due to his change management, Virgin has a large business portfolio. For example, the group has taken over the Northern Rock bank to create Virgin Money (Australian Business Solutions 2012). Moreover, Virgin is active in the entertainment, health & wellness, travel, leisure and telecom industry.

Human preference to the comfort zone

Change in business has an effect on the company’s strategy, organisational structure and as well on the employee’s wellbeing (Halkos 2012, Quiros 2014). The psychological aspect of change shouldn’t be ignored because humans’ natural reaction to change is resistance. When your manager communicates the change of your whole working schedule, you will feel fear and a feeling of loss of control (Bryson, Barth and Dale-Olson 2013). Moreover, you will prefer the routine and predictability of your past work schedule (Ruiz 2014). People like their routines, habits and tend to repeat their actions because of the familiarity and the constant and predictable outcome (Ruiz 2014).

Employees are a challenge in change management because of their perception of change as a threat (Halkos 2012). They will feel psychological stress, uncertainty, resistance and frustration due to the perceived loss of control, job-related anxiety and fear of not being able to meet the new demands  (Halkos 2012, Bryson, Barth and Dale-Olson 2013, Ruiz 2014).

On the other hand, this fear of change depends on the personality, education and responsibility of the employee and the nature and size of change (Armean 2013, Halkos 2012). For example, changes in working hours will have a higher impact on the individual than product innovation (Halkos 2012). Furthermore, the intensity of employee’s opposition depends as well from the organisational climate, period of change, country and culture (Prediscan, Bradutanu and Roiban Roxana 2013). Hofstede stated Uncertainty Avoidance as a cultural dimension, which affects the embrace or opposition to change depending from culture to culture (The Hofstede Centre 2014). My country Belgium scores very high on the Uncertainty Avoidance chart with 94%, consequently, we can assume that Belgians are highly opposite to change (The Hofstede Centre 2014).

Role of managers

As stated above, organisations need change and people are a key factor to make significant change in the way they act. Consequently, managers should moderate and manage the impact of change on the employee’s wellbeing with a well-defined human resources management programme (Mullins 2013).

Workers have to keep inspired when they feel overwhelmed during change which requires change programmes focused on communication and dialogue (De Smet, Lavoie and Hioe 2012, Halkos 2012, Ruiz 2014). Leaders have to navigate their teams during the transition phase by motivating and discuss openly about the following items in order to overcome the resistance to change among employees (Quiros 2014):

  • Current assessment results
  • Purpose for change and the advantages
  • Impact to the organisation and management
  • Necessary process adjustments
  • Necessary retraining
  • Risks and opportunities
  • Timetable for the utilisation and evaluation
  • Rewards (Ruiz 2014).

In conclusion, the manager’s and leaders most important role in change management is communication with the employees during the whole process. This can reduce the barriers to change of fear, frustration, resistance, intolerance and anxiety among employees.

Personal experience

Because of human’s natural psychological reaction of resistance to change, I like the security in the past and my habits. But for my past work and educational experiences, I choose to go for the unknown and to change. Every time before starting a new challenge, I felt fear to change. Once my experience was successful I felt much more confident and continued embracing the unknown. For example, I lived for 21 years in Belgium and my dream was to stay in my favourite city Antwerp for the rest of my life. However, one day I decided to go to the South of France to improve my French in a language school during 8 weeks. The days before my departure, I had to resist several times not to cancel the lessons. Anxiety and fear of unknown came up. But since my first day in the language school, I haven’t stopped travelling for almost 3 years now and discovering other cities by living there, learning about other cultures, people and languages. And I love it.

 So… let’s change!



Australian Business Solutions (2012) ‘Lessons from Richard Branson’ [online]Available from < http://absmagazine.com.au/2012/07/27/lessons-from-sir-richard-branson/&gt; [16/05/2014]

Branson, R. (2011) ‘Richard Branson on managing change’ [online] Available from <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217944&gt; [16/05/2014]

Bryson, A., Barth, E. and Dale-Olsen, H. (2013) ‘The effects of organizational change on worker well-being and the moderating role of trade unions.’ Industrial & Labor Relations Review [online] 66 (4), 989-1011. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=15&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

De Smet, A., Lavoie, J. and Hioe, E. S. (2012) ‘Developing better change leaders.’ McKinsey Quarterly [online] (2), 98-104. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=9&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=74756221&gt; [16/05/2014]

Halkos, G. (2012) ‘The importance and influence of organizational changes on companies and their employees.’ Journal of Advanced Research in Management [online] 3 (2), 90-103. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=16&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

Prediscan, M., Bradutanu, D. and Roiban Roxana, N. (2013) ‘Forces that enhance or reduce employee resistance to change.’ Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series [online] 22 (1), 1606-1612. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=8&sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=90545859&gt; [16/05/2014]

Quiros, E. (2014) ‘Leading People Many People Have A difficult Through Change.’ Strategic Finance [online] 96 (5), 15-16. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=3&sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&hid=103&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=95875444&gt; [16/05/2014]

Raynor, M. and Mumtaz, A. (2013) ‘Change management needs to change.’ Harvard Business Review [online] 91 (6), 18-19. Available from < http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=7&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

Riwo-Abudho, M., Njanja, L. and Ochieng, I. (2012) ‘The Role of Strategic Leadership during Change.’ KCA Journal of Business Management [online]4 (1), 48-61. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=12&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

Ruiz, E. (2014) ‘Difficult Change Management.’ Leadership excellence [online] 31(4), 63-63. Available from < http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=d30d6ded-5f35-4683-adf6-1882db64e989%40sessionmgr112&vid=8&hid=103&gt; [16/05/2014]

The Hofstede Centre (2014) National cultural dimensions [online]Available from < http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html&gt; [02/05/2014]

Is my manager also my leader?


One of the main reasons why I decided to study an MBA is to learn how to become a great leader and manager.  In literature, it has been argued whether leadership is similar to management. In this blog, I will explore the similarities and differences.

Both leaders and managers have to achieve company’s goals through teamwork. Additionally, because they are involved in teamwork, they should both have a high level of emotional intelligence skills.

People follow a leader due to positive reasons such as trust in the person, hope of success and excitement about the project (Toor 2011). Followers bond with their leader at a psychological level, as they have an influence relationship (Mullins 2013). Leaders inspire emotion and engagement and create a vision with which others can identify (Brookmire 2014). Leaders use personal appeal and according to Jim Lancaster, President of Lantech, leadership is about being able to push people in a direction they were fundamentally uncomfortable going (Sharma 1997).

On the other hand, people follow their manager because of his position in the hierarchical structure of the organisation (Mullins 2013, Toor 2011). Managers obtain a low level of emotional engagement with their employees, as their relationship is contractual and based on authority (Holmes 2009, Mullins 2013). Furthermore, managing is about executing orders in a structural hierarchy and about transactions (Toor 2011, Brookmire 2014). For example, a manager could tell his employee to finish a task to get rewarded, if not he will get punished (Brookmire 2014). Former CEO of ITT, Harold Geneen emphasises that leadership does not necessarily take place within the hierarchical structure of the organisation (Mullins 2013). He says “Leadership depends more upon man than upon the rank” (Sharma 1997:35).

Moreover, the difference between managers and leaders can be shown through the 7-S Framework of Watson.


This framework has been used to measure organisational effectiveness and to identify problem areas (Waterman, Peters and Phillips 1980). The framework shows that organisational effectiveness depends upon the interaction of 7 areas namely; structure, strategy, systems, skills, staff and finally, style (Waterman, Peters and Phillips 1980, McKinsey & Company 2014). Global Management Consulting Firm McKinsey used the 7 terms of Watson’s framework in order to differentiate leaders and managers. Leaders can be identified as focussing on the soft elements namely style, staff and skills (Mullins 2013). Managers, on the contrary, rely on the hard elements of strategy, structure and systems (McKinsey & Company 2014, Mullins 2013).

The Chartered Management Institute states that leadership and management style depend upon the circumstances and individual characteristics (CMI 2013). I agree with this statement as the effectiveness of leadership and the leadership style depends upon the total leadership situation (Mullins 2013). Three factors define which form of leadership is desirable namely the company, people in the situation and the broader social environment (Tannenbaum and Schmidt 1986). Furthermore, managers should adapt their leadership style upon the employee’s personality, the general situation, expectations of the company and the external environmental pressures (Mullins 2013).


As mentioned, managers can switch from one style to another depending on the environmental setting of the situation however they have to obtain a continuous personal management style. This own style will be influenced by the managers’ personality, experiences, personal history and values (Mullins 2013). A manager cannot radically change his personality and behaviour one day to another.

As for my future career, I would like to work for a manager who encourages and recognises his employees and uses appreciation as a motivator. I prefer people-oriented managers who focus on group collaboration. Moreover, he or she has to be an example of hardworking to employees and inspire them to increase performance and to obtain the business goals and results. Professor Reddin distinguishes 4 effective leadership styles depending on levels of concern for people and tasks. The leadership style I prefer to be managed by is executive. This effective style has a high level on relationship and task orientation (Mullins 2013). The manager using this style emphasise on motivation and collective commitment (Reddin International 2014). When I was working as a receptionist in a hotel in the South of France, the door of my manager’s office was always open to have a talk or to ask a question. During rush hour at the reception, my manager joined the other receptionists to help and worked hard to satisfy the clients. I felt like he supported me and that I could talk to him like he was my father. He often gave me feedback which motivated me to improve certain skills and to be proud and happy of my work. On the other hand, I have experienced a manager who had the less effective style deserter. This style can be identified as lack of any involvement in both tasks and individuals (Reddin International 2014, Mullins 2013). In a hotel in Luxembourg where I worked as a receptionist, my manager used to stay in her office with closed doors during the whole workday without any intention of involvement or interest in the staff. This was very demotivating for me as she didn’t support, motivate or learned me anything.

In this blog, I discussed the differences between leaders and managers and the best approach to manage employees. I will conclude with setting a goal for myself namely becoming a manager and as well a leader for my employees. Combining management and leadership will result in a long-term competitive advantage (Toor 2011).


Brookmire, D. (2014) ‘Managers or leaders?’ Leadership Excellence [online]31 (2), 27-28. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=13&sid=b167e490-99e9-46b1-a402-7b4ad3c04145%40sessionmgr112&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=94361591&gt; [11/05/2014]

Greenberg, H. and Sweeney, P (2011) ‘Managing or Leading?’ Chief learning Officer [online]10 (8), 26-29. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=6&sid=b167e490-99e9-46b1-a402-7b4ad3c04145%40sessionmgr112&hid=113&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=63524226&gt; [11/05/2014]

Holmes, A. (2009) ‘A crisis calls for a leader and not a manager; Churchill would be just the man to solve the Royal Mail standoff, says management guru Anthony Holmes’ [online]Available from <https://www.lexisnexis.com/uk/legal/results/enhdocview.do?docLinkInd=true&ersKey=23_T19848194889&format=GNBFULL&startDocNo=0&resultsUrlKey=0_T19848194892&backKey=20_T19848194893&csi=332263&docNo=3&scrollToPosition=188&gt; [11/05/2014]

Kouzes, J. and Posner, G. (2012) ‘Leadership Challenge.’ Leadership Excellence [online]29 (8), 3-4. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=38&sid=c2f1e901-0e2a-4316-a7d2-1181b7e3254e%40sessionmgr115&hid=128&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=78334912&gt; [11/05/2014]

Lewis, C. (2007) ‘How leaders manage’ [online]Available from <https://www.lexisnexis.com/uk/legal/results/enhdocview.do?docLinkInd=true&ersKey=23_T19848180838&format=GNBFULL&startDocNo=0&resultsUrlKey=0_T19848180841&backKey=20_T19848180842&csi=10939&docNo=14&scrollToPosition=1786&gt; [11/05/2014]

McKinsey & Company (2014) Enduring Ideas: The 7-S Framework [online]Available from < http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/strategy/enduring_ideas_the_7-s_framework&gt; [11/05/2014]

Mullins, L. (2013) Management & Organisational behaviour. Harlow: Pearson

Reddin International (2014) 3-D Leadership model [online]available from <http://www.wjreddin.co.uk/content/14/reddin-s-3-d-leadership-model&gt; [11/05/2014]

Sharma, A. (1997) ‘Leadership: The manager v. the leader.’ II Solutions [online]29 (9), 34-36. Available from <http://web.b.ebscohost.com/bsi/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=b167e490-99e9-46b1-a402-7b4ad3c04145%40sessionmgr112&vid=10&hid=113&gt; [11/05/2014]

Tannenbaum, R. and Schmidt, W. (1986) ‘Excerpts from How to choose a leadership pattern.’ Harvard Business Review [online] 64 (4), 129-129. Available from < http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=5&sid=9defab2b-eac3-4c36-9387-4aa1367486c5%40sessionmgr4003&hid=4112&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=4072784&gt; [11/05/2014]

Toor, S. (2011) ‘Differentiating Leadership from Management: An Empirical Investigation of Leaders and Managers.’ Leadership & Management in Engineering [online]11 (4), 310-320. Available from < http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=6&sid=c92dd825-c907-4881-8e47-04b5e80b7973%40sessionmgr4001&hid=4112&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=66950368&gt; [11/05/2014]

Waterman, R., Peters, T. and Philips, J. (1980) ‘Structure is not organization.’ Business Horizons [online] 23 (3), 14-17.Available from < http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=14&sid=c92dd825-c907-4881-8e47-04b5e80b7973%40sessionmgr4001&hid=4112&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=4523289&gt; [11/05/2014]

Yes to team diversity for better business performance


As a Belgian MBA student in London, I have been experiencing diversity. Firstly, I am the only European student in a class of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Nigerian and Arabian students.  Secondly, I live in the multicultural city London, which has the greatest number of migrants in the UK with 2.8 million foreign-born people in 2012 (Rienzo and Vargas-Silva 2014). Moreover, I worked as a receptionist in a hotel in the South of France with an international clientele. My experience with diversity has been challenging and personal enriching for me due to the differences in culture, values, time perception, customs and traditions. For example, in my language school in Paris I met one of my closest friends, Abdul from Saudi Arabia. Before, I never imagined to get in touch with his culture,let alone be friends. But he inspired my life. Another example was during my work as a hotel receptionist. We had a lot of Russian guests who only spoke in orders to me. When a Russian client needed another key of room 200, they shouted at me “Key 200”.  Their way of talking came across as very rude and impolite to me. However, my Russian friend told me that it is their culture. Russians only express what they have to say and all the polite words around are unnecessary and a waste of time according to them.

My experience of meeting people from different nationalities enables me to improve my team working and cultural sensitivity skills for my future management career. Because of the globalisation and shifting demographic composition, variety in the workforce is common (Neves and Melé 2013, Simons and Rowland 2011). Moreover, governments imply equal employment opportunities legislation (Mullins 2013). Consequently, for a future manager, leading diverse teams will be a requisite in my industry. I will work with people from different ethnic origins, national culture, age, work experience, personality, accent, religious beliefs and family status (Mullins 2013).

Additionally, managers should be aware of the advantages of diversity for the business strategy and company operations. Firstly, diverse employees will attract more diverse customers as they provide access to multicultural markets. Consequently, the company will have a competitive advantage (Mullins 2013). Furthermore, companies with a diverse customer base and diverse staff will better understand the wants of their customers (Dow 2003). Secondly, a diverse organisation develops a good image to their staff, customers and stakeholders (Mullins 2013). Diverse teams have as well a broader and unique perspective and push the boundaries because of the differences in background (Simons and Rowland 2011, Ted x Talks 2012). A variety of people in teams will improve innovation and creativity (Senichev 2013). For example, in a marketing team of a fashion company with 4 male North Europeans and 1 Nigerian woman, the daily work will be executed through the same standards as all 5 employees have a marketing degree. However, during brainstorming and team sessions, the Nigerian woman will bring in different perspectives to people’s thinking because of diversity.

An example of effective diversity in business is US Inland Steel. The company put people from different perspectives in key positions and became profitable for the first time since its establishment (Senichev 2013).

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However, Diversity doesn’t only mean recruiting a variety of employees. It needs as well effective management. Companies such as BP, Barclays, JP Morgan and Coca-Cola assigned diversity managers in order to increase and closely manage diversity in their company (Dow 2003). Managers are challenged to execute cross-cultural management by leading teams from different cultures to work together peacefully and profitably for the company.

On the contrary, team diversity can result in problems with group cohesion (Simons and Rowland 2011). In addition, cultural differences can negatively affect a team. Geert Hofstede distinguished 6 dimensions defining a national culture namely Power Distance, Individualism versus Collectivism, Masculinity versus Femininity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Pragmatism versus Normatism and finally Indulgence versus Restraint (The Hofstede Centre 2014).


These 6 dimensions of national culture can occur as cultural differences in teams and consequently affect decision-making. For example, Belgium scores very high on the uncertainty avoidance and individualism curve but China very low on both dimensions (The Hofstede Centre 2014). Because of these differences, Belgians and Chinese people will struggle to agree and decision-making could take more time. However, it could be argued that there are variations of characters of individuals in each country. A country is not a homogenous whole and individuals could have other levels of the dimensions than their born country (Mullins 2013).

In conclusion, with the globalisation human resources managers have a big pool with candidates and a lot of choice for the best possible talent (Mullins 2013). Consequently, future managers in the fashion industry should learn how to lead diverse teams. Diversity can as well improve business performance but there can be challenges. Managers should focus on looking for talent instead of recruiting a variety of people only to obtain the image of ‘diverse company’. Diversity in a company should as well be followed up. I agree with Lord John Browne, the chief executive of BP, as he says that recruiting is about finding the best person for the job despite their colour, gender, age and country of birth (Dow 2003).

Dow (2003) ‘Variety can help you thrive’ [online] Available from <https://www.lexisnexis.com/uk/legal/results/enhdocview.do?docLinkInd=true&ersKey=23_T19811536812&format=GNBFULL&startDocNo=0&resultsUrlKey=0_T19811536820&backKey=20_T19811536821&csi=146174&docNo=3&scrollToPosition=396&gt; [02/05/2014]

Mullins, L. (2013) Management & Organisational behaviour. Harlow: Pearson
Neves, J. and Melé, D. (2013) ‘Managing Ethically Cultural Diversity: Learning from Thomas Aquinas.’ Journal of Business Ethics [online] 116 (4), 769-780. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=3&sid=e611f17e-9f3c-4f96-a13d-095e1006a438%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4101&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=90429120&gt; [02/05/2014]

Rienzo,C. and Vargas-Silva, C (2014) Migrants in the UK: an overview [online] Available from <http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/migrants-uk-overview&gt; [02/05/2014]
Senichev, V (2013) ‘Human resource diversity and performance within the frame of organizations, teams and individuals.’ Business: Theory & Practice [online] 14 (4), 337-345. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=5&sid=ef47ee35-ae38-4e26-a26c-007b404455dc%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=93743393&gt; [05/05/2014]

Simons, S. and Rowland, K. (2011) ‘Diversity and its Impact on Organizational Performance: The Influence of Diversity Constructions on Expectations and Outcomes.’ Journal of Technology Management & Innovation [online] 6 (3), 171-182. Available from <http://web.a.ebscohost.com/bsi/detail?vid=3&sid=ef47ee35-ae38-4e26-a26c-007b404455dc%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4206&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmU%3d#db=bth&AN=78548964&gt; [05/05/2014]

Ted x Talks (2012) TEDxUNC – Joseph DeSimone – Diversity as a Fundamental Tenet of Innovation [online] Available from <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp9H8avhurE&gt; [05/05/2014]

The Hofstede Centre (2014) National cultural dimensions [online] Available from < http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html&gt; [02/05/2014]