After reading articles on the two leaders, Darwin Smith and Albert Dunlap (Chainsaw Al), who became
CEOs responsible for implementing a turnaround, I start to understand two contrasting leadership styles.
The main differences were in the following elements; getting results (skills), compassionate (character), interaction with worker (behavior), carrying the organization forward (individual leading competency), making decisions and thinking of future (elements of leadership activity). Each of these is discussed below.
In terms of getting results, Dunlap is highly capable in my view as compared to Smith because being a leader Dunlap knows how to do things and get results. His method may not be the best but that is a different aspect. Dunlap has a track record for increasing companies’ market values. For example, at Scott Paper Co. he increased shares by 225% in only 18 months. Also, by him becoming CEO Sunbeam’s shares increased by 60%. On the other hand, Smith is someone who worked his way up and is more talented at picking one segment of the market and working at that. In his presence, Kimberley-Clarks shares rose only 14.2% annually. So in my view, I think Dunlop has the skills of taking risks, getting results one way or another, bold and others have this sense of fear when around him. Smith is more of a person who stays to himself and makes sure that his plans are being followed. As he says in the interview, ‘Eccentric. I am a loner; I am almost anti-social.’
I believe when looking solely on the skills and not how they are implemented, Dunlap presents better traits than Smith however based on David Colcleugh’s book the leaders’ skills should be reflected in the followers so in that aspect I think Smith is more consistent as he tries to pass on his skills to his followers, the person taking over his position for example, and makes sure everyone can move at the same pace. Dunlap is more about being in control with no reflection of his skills in his workers.
In terms of being compassionate towards others, Smith has the ‘inner human attributes to function effectively’, as David Colcleugh states in his book, far superior than Dunlap. Smith is a hard working person dedicated to making the company succeed as well as making his workers feel part of the success, he knows how to balance his tasks effectively. He’s a compassionate man whose workers can talk and relate to all the time, despite him being focused on getting the Kimberly-Clark to higher level of success. For example,
Smith says he has a good network of information flowing to him within the company. His answers suggest that he understands reality of life and works hard at it. For example, despite being diagnosed with cancer he kept on working and making sure the company would not suffer. He made sure he picked the right person to take over and that he could pass on the skills he had to the new person. This shows a great sense of compassion, responsibility and courage.
At the other end, Dunlap is not a compassionate person. He has no care for the workers, all he wants is results regardless of what harshness his workers need to go through for it. His character is more of a person who is self-obsessed. His workers have nothing good to say about his way of dealing with them. For example, most of his workers wanted him to leave the company, which to me speaks volumes. As an employee states, when he was talking it was as though a dog was barking for hours. He gave his workers incentives that would call for un-ethical steps to be taken, for example telling them that they would lose their jobs if they did not bring him the results he wanted or offering company stocks to the high performers.
This tells me that he showed them the two extremes and the chance of making more money brought greed in their eyes. Another character of Dunlap was that he did not work with integrity, most of the time making up values and presenting them as Sunbeams quarterly