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Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? Case Study Example

Pages: 3

Words: 766

Case Study

Trader Joe’s has created a competitive advantage in an already saturated target market.  With high volume box stores slashing costs on food and other consumable items, Trader Joe’s had to come up with a way to negate the focus directly on cost and increase the consumer’s value on quality and experience.  This was accomplished by providing products that were slightly different such as Greek yogurt and low-sudsing detergent but it was also enhanced through the ability to satisfy their workers, create an environment for achievement and success as well as create the capabilities for their employees to pursue happiness within the organization.  The freedom to reach to satisfy the customer provides the ability to keep satisfied employees as well.

Within the organization, there are key roles and responsibilities that are required to ensure the organization is keeping satisfied employees and turning those employees into catalysts for a competitive advantage.  Leadership can be described as “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”  This simple statement places the emphasis on how leadership is more than accomplishing goals and objectives but how those achievements are obtained and implemented while also imparting guidance and strategic intent throughout the process.  In the business world, hierarchy is built into levels of authority based on roles, organizational needs and functional expertise. The levels in the organization include titles such as departmental manager, shift manager, functional manager and general manager.  These areas are broken down into core competencies that require that role to perform certain aspects of the job.  The goal of a shift manager working within the confines of an automotive production plant has specific measurable objectives to reach during the course of his or her shift, week, month, quarter and year.  These goals and objectives are set forth by senior management based upon their goals and objectives in order to meet the senior accountable forces within the organizations business strategy.

The goal of the manager is to manage the specific, tactical and operational functions underneath his or her span of control(Zaleznik,2008).  The manager will more than likely be compared and appraised upon how well he met the metrics established for his group.  The metrics for the manager’s area of responsibility does not necessarily take into account his or her leadership ability and how well the leadership skills are being developed and implemented within the manager’s team(Zenger & Folkman, 2009).

Within Trader Joe’s, leadership represents the ability to guide a group of individuals with initially separate and distinct goals into a concerted and synergistic focus toward the same objective.  This objective is to create an experience within the target niche and continually improve the customer experience. This is a shift in individualistic goals and objectives into those that are for the greater good of the group as a whole.  These business traits revolve around building an individual with the ability to guide and direct while also maintaining a level of trust and hope within the organization of people he or she is leading.

Career management systems are utilized to help employees track, develop and manage their careers within an organization.  If an employee at Trader Joe’s wants to move through the organization, they have the ability to pursue those opportunities.  The ability to manage and drive their own career is ultimately up to them and their goals.  The key components of a career management system revolves around the creation of a resource for the employee to develop opportunities, access to mentors or guides within the company, training classes and openings within the company.  These focal points allows for development and attraction of talent within the organization by providing new opportunities in many areas of the organization as well as building upon the talents of the employees in their current job function.  The career management system facilitates the management of the employee’s interests, strengths, weaknesses while documenting and tracking career objectives.  The system would also put a plan to the objectives so that the employee has the ability to execute the action plan to further their career.The goal setting would be followed by the ability to set the plan to action and a developmental action plan would be established with objectives, timelines and a critical path in which to achieve those objectives.  The assessments, reviews, objectives and action plan are all living documents that reside within the career management system and would require an active interaction between the organization, manager and employee.

References

Zaleznik, A. (2008). Managers and leaders: are they different? Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review.

Zenger, J. H., & Folkman, J. (2009). The extraordinary leader, turning good managers into great leaders. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.

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