June 21, 2015
Stay True to Your School of Thought
Sometimes a leader needs to come out of the shadow and declare a plan of action that goes against the general consensus. This is what Ricardo Semler did to great effect. This case tracks businessman Ricardo Semler, who transformed his originally owned family business into a national success story. However, he did not take the stereotypical straight and narrow path. Beginning his leadership as a data-oriented autocratic, he changed his ways by stepping back and redistributing his control within the hierarchy of his company Semco, a marine pump manufacturer in the shipping industry. Semler created an employee driven environment where workers recruited their own bosses, and set their own hours. Although different from the normal perception of the hierarchal structure of business, Semler has been able to defy the odds through his emotional intelligence and transformational leadership.
Given his laid back personality, few thought that he would be successful at Semco. After seeing his son’s style and not wanting to coexist with his son, Semler’s father gave him Semco at a very young age, and told him “Better make your mistakes while I’m still alive” (Maddux, 2). Semler’s first thought was to be the data-driven autocratic leader that his father was. He fired many people and set up many rigorous control sytems to keep the company in order, but in the process created so much stress for his workers causing them to be unhappy. Although he had these systems in place, he still wasn’t able to get the performance levels that he anticipated out of Semco. He noticed deliveries were being late because workers did not care. They did not have much of an incentive to do any better than they were doing at Semco. However, it was not until a corporate retreat, when he saw one of his employees draw a photo of the Grim Reaper to portray Semler, did he realized that he needed to change and not be the same leader that his father was. Instead of being a productive leader, he was driving Semco and the employees into the ground. Not only that, but he physically collapsed due to such high levels of stress. Ricardo aimed to take on his father’s company and drastically bring it a whole new level. Ricardo’s personality and Semco were not meshing well together; and when personality leadership styles do not mix, we either scrap it or change the surrounding environment. In this case, Semler decided to change his ways and realized the true unhappiness of his employees. By restricting this corporate environment, he was able to finally see not only profit and success in the company, but much higher levels of employee satisfaction and performance, which is the key to any company. Though at first, Semler was the data-driven autocratic that his father was, through his emotional intelligence, he was able to step back and use his emotional intelligence to realize that his employees were unhappy in the workplace.
Emotional intelligence is a key factor in which leaders must possess in order to be successful. Emotional intelligence is how a person is able to perceive and interpret another people’s emotions, and from that regulate their own emotions (Robbins & Judge, 54). Semler was able to do just this when he realized the level of unhappiness that his employees were displaying. He saw what his employees needed and aimed to provide it. Semler removed the dress code with the expectation that his employees would still arrive to work in appropriate dress. Through this, his employees were given more options about what to wear to work, but it also gave them more influence in the company, which made them happier as a whole. By giving greater freedom to his employees, and by eliminating previously implemented systems, his employees gained a higher level of satisfaction. Even more important than dress codes, Semler allowed his employees to research and make new decisions about the acquiring of new