Ms. Tilton’s ability to build a fortune from the manufacturers scrap heaps and bring them back to life exhibits task competence trait through intelligence and knowledge. Also, the comment made in the text, “She realized that the only way to succeed was to take control of the companies in the portfolio”, demonstrates her intelligence, knowledge, and problem solving skills (Frank). Ms. Tilton’s ability to communicate with the people and her talent to get people’s attention demonstrate good interpersonal competence traits. When Mr. Brown of Ford Motor, cynically asks her if she is the person who will strip and flip their company, Ms. Tilton promptly answers back that she will do it only to men. Ms. Tilton demonstrates to Tony Brown of Ford Motor that she possesses good sociability character. Based on defined characteristics of task competence, interpersonal competence, and personal traits, Ms Tilton should be evaluated as high quality manager and leader.
Some of Ms. Tilton’s positive leadership traits are explained below using examples from the given case.
Decision-making: Her activities are based on her own concept, “The key to America’s future is manufacturing. We simply have to become a country that can make things again” (Frank, 2001). After starting the career of debt trading, she realized that the only way to succeed was to take control of the companies in the portfolio; her turnarounds were extremely profitable and she went to buy more companies. The above examples show decision-making traits.
Communication: Leaders show effective, open, and good interpersonal skills. During her visit to the manufacturing line of MD helicopter with her shimmering dress and heels, she bonded with workers with earthy jokes and detailed knowledge of machine tools. This example shows her ability to communicate with the workers.
Confidence: Her office attire and office design could be considered as provocative. She agrees that it sometimes makes men uncomfortable. Mr. Tilton adds, “I would hope that people judge me on my accomplishments and intelligence” (Frank, 2011). This example demonstrates her high level of confidence.
Ability to persuade: Comment from the text, “Yet behind the glam facade is a sophisticated distressed investor and manufacturing tycoon who has quickly became one if the richest self-made woman in America” (Frank, 2011). A self-made rich person cannot reach the goal without being able to persuade others. This example demonstrates her ability to persuade others.
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The only negative leadership trait, observed in the text, is her dictatorial attitude that causes employee turnover in the company.
Situational leadership depicts how one uses or handles the organization’s ‘situation’. The word ‘situation’, in this case, defines skills, confidence, competence, and motivation level of organization’s workers. Ashim Gupta explains the concept of the “situational leadership” model through the analogy of leader’s behavior towards subordinates as if he is a parent, teacher, sincere friend, and responsible adults (Gupta, 2009). Ms. Tilton’s comment, “I am a benevolent dictator, I like to control things” puts her in the parent place, which is high directive and low supportive style leadership (Frank, 2011). However, sharing knowledge of metal alloys and machine tools with the workers during her visit to the MD Helicopter Plant in Arizona demonstrates ‘responsible adult’ behavior, which is low directive and low supportive leadership style. On the other hand, Ms. Tilton’s former employees’ comments about employee churn at Patriarch due to her personal involvement in each company lead to believe that Ms. Tilton is more prone to high directive – low supportive situational approach. However, at the same time, perhaps high directive – high supportive situational approach in her leadership may not be ignored.
In a nutshell, transformational leadership may be understood as a concept where the leader not only conveys the group’s goals, but also energize and recharge the group to achieve the goal. Bass suggested four different components of transformational leadership: intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence (Bass & Bass, 2008). To understand Ms. Lynn Tilton’s transformational leadership behavior, one needs to pay attention to the entire article. Ms. Tilton started on the Wall Street, and in 2000 formed Patriarch Company with the intention to trade debt. Today, Ms. Tilton owns all or parts of 74 companies, which generates $8 billion revenue and has 12,000 employees. Ms. Tilton is named as the richest self-made woman in America. To achieve this magnitude of success, one needs to use intellectual stimulation type of leadership. These leaders challenge the status quo and at the same time inject creativity among the followers. Individual consideration of Ms. Tilton leadership style was manifested in her visit to the MD Helicopter plant, where she offered support and encouragement to the workers. Her inspirational motivation is seen in her passionate comment, “We simply have to become a country that can make things again” (Frank, 2011).
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Why a person would like to work or not to work for Lynn Tilton depends on that individual’s personality, vision, and goal. The sheer fact that Ms. Tilton is the richest self-made woman says enough about her quality as a leader. The above discussion presented her leadership characteristics. I believe, that though situational approach portrays her more as a high directive – low supportive leader, the transformational leadership characterizes her as an outstanding leader. That is why I choose to work for Ms. Tilton.
A leader possesses specific characteristics that define key positive leadership traits. There are characteristics that define negative leadership traits. Leadership traits can also be differentiated through situational approach and transformational behaviors of leaders.