Organization Profile of Wal-Mart
Leadership requires leaders to be able to command, earn and deserve respect. They should perform their tasks effectively while observing well-laid ethical principles and standards. Servant leaders must have good judgment skills to know the right action to take at specific times. They must demonstrate a high level of integrity and the courage to address contentious issues that surround daily management. These traits define leadership and when integrated can develop an individual into a stronger leader. The purpose of this essay is to discuss leadership at Wal-Mart. I was privileged to work in the company as an intern. The company traces its humble beginning in Bentonville, Arkansas. Today, the company has grown and expanded its operations to more than 4,400 stores and supercenters across the world.
Wal-Mart has continued to grow and command the market despite criticism about their treatment of competitors and labor practices. The company derives its strengths from effective management of operations, low-cost production, and robust marketing practices. The company operates a chain of hypermarkets and discount and grocery stores. Founded by Sam Walton in 1962, Wal-Mart is the largest company in the world based on revenue and the largest employer with over 2.3 million employees.
Ethical Leadership and Ethical Decision Making
Wal-Mart has a global presence. Consequently, the company operates on global and standard ethical principles and practices. The company has comprehensively developed and upholds policies that shape employee behavior for all the stakeholders. Management in the institution regularly raises awareness of ethical policies and formulated channels through which ethical issues can be reported. In the company, ethics guide resource use and decision-making, provide channels for anonymous reporting, as well as provide ethics education to streamline the communication system.
As one of the largest global corporations, Wal-Mart has enshrined social responsibility to its employees and customers as outlined in their code of ethics. These codes address basic principles of respect to individuals, service to the customers, and striving for excellence. It is revealed that Wal-Mart is guided by principles documented in its code of ethics such as abiding by the law and regulations, honesty in reporting company operations, and working with utmost integrity (Klien, 2012). Wal-Mart aspires to promote ownership of the company’s ethical culture to all its stakeholders globally. Wal-Mart has initiated programs and processes of dealing with ethical issues that surround its operations. Effective dealing with ethical issues was marked by the establishment of the Global Ethics Office that ensures operations are carried out ethically.
Nash, an ethics researcher, created a framework for ethical decision-making. The model requires a leader to ponder on twelve questions before arriving at a decision. The framework needs accurate problem definitions from various angles such as the intention of the decision and the likely results. Further, a leader must ascertain those affected by the decision, how confident a manager is before making a decision, and if it is possible to disclose the decision to third parties. Consequently, a manager must ascertain the potential of the actions to be taken and describing situations that require exceptions.
Wal-Mart uses the framework to promote a common good by addressing employee and customer issues. Wal-Mart has faced ethical issues regarding compensation policies and discrimination in the work environment. In response, the company has considered the twelve basic questions by Nash to change its employee policies to ensure workers are treated fairly. In essence, Wal-Mart recognizes the need to address ethical issues because they directly affect profitability. The ethics office ensures that practices are above board and meet the ethical standards and requirements of the law.
Wal-Mart faced an ethical issue regarding an accident that involved Tracy Morgan, who was injured, and McNair, his fellow comedian who was killed. The accident occurred when a chauffeured vehicle carrying the two comedians was struck by a Wal-Mart truck. Apparently, the driver of the truck was overly tired, and therefore, lost control of the vehicle. At the time, it was easy for the company to write-off the accident as a one-time incident. The company failed to address the issue amicably citing that people make mistakes. Failure by the company to address the issue surrounding the accident came to haunt the company later through lawsuit. Experts asserted that legal implications could be catastrophic to all the stakeholders and community’s discovery that unethical behavior often goes unchecked by top management (Van Riper, 2008).
The Wal-Mart bribery scandal in Mexico was an ethical issue that tarnished the image of the organization. Management pushed hard to create success, and in the process, they made unethical decisions that violated the law. However, the company’s leadership acted ethically through their corporate social responsibility and change of employee policies that initiated fair treatment and ensured safety for the staff. Formal procedures were used to address the ethical dilemmas. First, Wal-Mart’s leadership ensured that conflict of interest did not prevent the objectivity approach. Secondly, the management was aware of self-serving arguments for the decisions they arrived at, and finally, Wal-Mart ensured that decisions were consistent with policies and values.
Wal-Mart’s leadership has established a business community as a cornerstone of its operations and strategies. The community at Wal-Mart encompasses management, customers, staff, suppliers, and the society at large. The company initiated several strategies to build the community. Customers conveniently find what they are looking for in the stores. These products range from grocery to entertainment, as the company provides various brands tailored to customer needs. The company has established efficiently a bond with the customers. Moreover, the leadership has established a community in which employees work as a unit. The philosophy of the company asserts that working for it is a step towards building a career (Woosley, 2006). For example, the company recently promoted associates who started as hourly staff to higher ranks with increased pay. Through this initiative, the company has created a close bond and relationship with employees who strive to achieve more and ensure the overall success of the company. To the surrounding society, the company effectively gives back through corporate social responsibility. Wal-Mart has also been at the forefront in ensuring environmental sustainability. Today, it is one of the largest on-site green energy generators in the United States and around the world.
The established community is strong. The company created a strong relationship between the management, suppliers, customers, staff, and the society. The bond is firm since compensation procedures are conducted fairly, and all customer problems are addressed amicably. Consequently, the established community ensures that employees and the management understand what is expected of them. Therefore, all parties work by core values. The established community is strong enough to sustain itself over generations because it defines policies and procedures governing the company. The strong relationship ensures that leadership is passed from one person to another in the continuity cycle in the company. In essence, the community is characterized by strong servant leaders who articulate beliefs, behavioral rules, and company traditions and rituals effectively aligned towards meeting customer needs, provide strategic directions, and promote competitive advantage. The business will continue to be committed to its key stakeholders in future.
Leadership and Change
Experts assert that leadership requires tolerance where managers accommodate opinions of other stakeholders (Goulston, 2011). At Wal-Mart, tolerance is well-documented in the policies governing the operations of the employees, suppliers, and customers. Dissenting opinions are not tolerated as the organization emphasizes on internal compliance and understanding between stakeholders. The leadership has implemented robust and reliable communication channels with customers and suppliers so that demands, inquiries, and complaints are effectively captured and documented for action.
To eliminate dissent, the leadership has initiated regular audits and follow-up to ensure that pertinent issues are addressed conclusively. To ensure tolerance on various aspects of operations, Wal-Mart has effectively maintained meticulous records covering all aspects of their operations. Significantly, Wal-Mart works closely with their stakeholders to create understanding on specific business risks within the industry. To promote smooth operations, management conducts regular assessments to gain understanding of the level of maturity within the organization. Further, the business is constantly developing partnerships with government and other non-governmental organizations. The company took a risk in assuming the accident that involved their truck and the chauffeur of the comedians. This risk-taking came to haunt the company through lawsuits later with other members asserting that there was a need to address the issue promptly immediately after the accident. The company was taken to court to answer to murder charges as an implication.
Innovation and increased customer needs have prompted the level of change. The company initiated change on various aspects such as inventory to deliver significant results to the business. Experts opine that Wal-Mart resorted to change management as a way to improve performance and address growing needs of the stakeholders (Fox, 2013). The employees have been supportive during change processes aimed at improving performance. The culture of change has been instrumental in providing effective services tailored to the needs of customers.
Fox, E. (2013). Wal-Mart, gap sign Bangladesh safety agreement. CNNMoney. Retrieved
from: http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/10/news/companies/walmart-bangladesh-agreement. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
Goulston, M. (2011). The CEO of the 21st century. Fast Company. Retrieved from:
http://www.fastcompany.com. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
Klien, E. (2012). Has Wal-mart been good or bad? The Washington Post, Retrieved from:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/11/24/has-wal-mart-been- good-or-bad/. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
Van Riper, T. (2008). Wal-mart is good for you. Forbes, Retrieved from:
http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/09/walmart-retail-economy-biz-commerce- cx_tvr_0110walmart.html. March 16, 2018.
Woosley, M. (2006). The best corporate citizens. Forbes. Retrieved from:
http://www.forbes.com/2006/11/26/leadership-CSR-walmart-lead-citizen- cx_mw_1128reputation.html. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
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