MODEL LEADERSHIP REPORT:
FORMER CEO OF BRITISH AIRWAYS
In an ever-changing business environment, leadership is an important component to the development and maintenance of any successful entity. Often times, it can be said, “Leadership is seen as the panacea for almost any social problem” (Bolman & Deal 2008, 342). So, it is evident that leadership is of paramount significance in augmenting the existence of any organization. A leader will therefore embody several qualities that can characterize him/her as successful. Such characteristics would include but are not limited to a vision, enthusiasm, integrity, toughness and confidence.
Colin Marshall, the former CEO of British Airways, had such qualities. He was known as a transformational leader. His vision transformed what was an underperforming airline into one of the world’s most prosperous aviation companies. In his tenure at British Airways, he was able embody all four organizational frames and sought to be the best leader/visionary he could be. He always wanted to “put people first”, and this stood as the company’s mantra.
Colin Marshall was born in Edgware, Middlesex on November 16, 1933. He obtained his education on a scholarship at University College School in Hampstead. He did not go on to attend university or pursue any form of higher education. Rather, at the age of 17 he decided he would become a cadet purser. He worked for Orient Line, a British ocean line company, transporting emigrants from England and Australia to Africa, New Zealand, and as far as the west coast of North America. This is where his desire for customer service began. While working in that field, in 1956, he met and fell in love with Janet Cracknell, a fellow colleague. In May 1958, the couple exchanged vows and got married.
His father, was the managing director of Daimier Limousine in London, and had connections with Donald Petrie, the Vice President of Hertz, the North American car rental giant. Marshall decided to make use of this connection and got in touch with Petrie. After making contact, Petrie had made it clear that there were opportunities for work in North America. So, ten days after getting married, Marshall and his wife travelled to New York.
In the same year, he began working for Hertz in Chicago, and started off as a management trainee. After completing training in Chicago and Toronto, he was promoted to the office of general manager in Mexico City in 1959. He also served as Petrie’s personal assistant. In a short time, he was installed as an overseer for Hertz’s emerging locations in England and in other countries. During the next 23 years, he worked with Hertz and Avis. Working for these companies had Marshall spending time in several countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. With his evident ardor and exceptional “business IQ”, Avis, who was Hertz’s rival, quickly noticed him. Avis recognized that Marshall would serve as a key component in its efforts to increase expansion within Europe. In the year 1971, he was summoned to the Avis headquarters and was selected to become the Chief Operating Officer. As time went on, Marshall continued acquiring extensive experience in business as well as increasing his understanding of how important customers are in the operation of any organization.
Eventually, he became the President and Chief Executive of Avis in 1976 and served in that capacity until 1979. After obtaining this position, he soon was appointed to Executive Vice President of Norton Simon Inc. and the Co-Chairman of Avis in 1979. Norton Simon Inc. obtained Avis, which was a conglomerate owner of other brands. By the year 1981, Marshall returned to England as a deputy chief executive of Sears Holdings. Shortly after, in 1983, Lord King of Wartnaby appointed Marshall as CEO of British Airways. Interestingly,