Scholars and business people alike acknowledge the importance of management to an organization. Organizational performance, job satisfaction, talent attracting, and retention largely depends on the type of management presents at a particular organization (Timms 2011). However, even in the agreement of the importance of management, no universal definition of management exists. Many scholars widely contest the definition of management, each with own version of what management means for an organization and to the outside world. While no universal definition of management exists, most of the definition attempt at capturing the dynamic element of the term in their definitions. While some scholars consider management as the act of reaching a decision on what ought to be done and influencing others to act, other see management as an economic organ of an industrial society (Timms 2011). Every act, decision, and deliberation, according to this definition, therefore is founded on an economic measurement. A third definition of management identifies a specialized collection of individuals whose task is to pipe the efforts and actions of other people towards the achievement of common goals (Timms 2011). These definitions attempt at capturing the very tasks that management need to perform. At the center of management is a manager, whose task is to carry out the responsibilities enumerated by the various definition of management. Over the years, however, there has been a shift in the task and position of managers. While traditional view of manager saw them within the hierarchical levels in their relationship with different layers of management and employees, the contemporary view diverges from the traditional. It views managers as support, with top managers supporting and managing lower level managers and employees. The top managers largely do this through employee empowerment.
In the scrutiny of management, it is noteworthy to state that different style of management does exist, and that different organizations and manager apply different forms of management. The success or failure of any of the forms of management largely depends of the individual at the helm of an organization (Easterby-Smith,Crossanand Nicolini 2011). Moreover, good management is key to starting an enterprise, growing it and maintaining it, once it has achieved some level of success. The management and the manager are therefore essential elements important in running, maintaining and driving an organization to different levels of success.
Different definitions for management exist. All the definitions, however, try to capture the different functions of management that include planning, organizing, leading and controlling. Although no singular and universal definition of management exists, style simply defines a manner or technique of doing something. Management styles therefore define the overall manner of leadership used by a leader or manager. Management is an important element in all industries. One of the most sensitive of the industries is the hospitality industry, which defines a wide set of fields within the service industries among them airline operations.
In looking at the types of management styles in the hospitality industry, Southwest Airlines provides a good example of the different style of management used in the hospitality industry. Operating since 1971, southwest is one of the most successful airlines in the US. It operates within the low-cost sector of the airline industry, and has managed to make a name for itself among the leaders in both low-cost and premium-service companies (Gittel 2013). The success of the company is attributed to the management styles established at the founding of the company, and which have taken root to date. Southwest uses democratic, affiliative and consultative styles of management. The combination of these three styles of leadership has helped in making Southwest one of the most successful airlines in the world (Mouawad 2010).
Democratic management aims at building commitment and consensus among employees—one of the most outstanding features of Southwest Airline employees and organizational culture. This style of management encourages input from everyone, with the manager being free with employees and allowing them to contribute to discussions (Cardinal 2015). Affiliative management on the other hand, aims at creating harmony among employees and between employees and managers. This management style puts people first and the management second. It rightly denotes Southwest management style, which is bottom-up type of management (Smith 2005). For consultative management, the leadership takes into account the interest of the employees. The management, therefore, ensures that even in their quest for business profits, the interests of the employees do not go unattended.
Noteworthy therefore in all the three styles of management used at Southwest is the fact that communication among employees and between managers and employees is encouraged. The two parties remain in constant communication consulting on the best way to handle customers and the business. All the three additionally aim at the avoidance of conflict, instead cultivation good relationship between among employees and between employees and the management (Cardinal 2015).
Communication in consultative management is mainly downward from the management down to the employees. However, management encourages feedback as a means of maintaining morale and motivation. On the other hand, team effort is rewarded in democratic management style. For affiliative management style, the administration motivates the employees by rallying towards making everyone happy (Cardinal 2015).
Like management and manager, leadership is equally difficult to define and does not have a universally accepted definition. The definition of leadership, therefore, depends on the context within which the word is used. However, in the general sense, leadership refers to setting up a direction for where one and his/her followers need to go. Leadership must be dynamic and inspiring for it to be effective. Characteristics are on the other hand personal attributes. Thus, the leadership characteristics of a manager are personal attributes (both learned and inborn) that an effective manager must possess in the hospitality industry.
Managers must therefore have within them, some characteristics for success in their roles within the demanding hospitality industry. Perseverance is one of the leadership characteristics of managers. According to Konstantin (2012), perseverance “is connected to behaviors that are related to: endurance in accomplishing assignments, confidence and performance in accordance with the rules and policies. Perseverance as a characteristic is in direct relation with the energy capacity of every individual” (p. 94). Managers with perseverance are therefore likely to remain oriented towards goal achievement, harmony with set goals, organization and reliability.
Managers must also be self-confident. Managers with self-confidence therefore represent belief hinged upon knowledge, future-focus and proven successful work. Such conviction help in rooting personal views and opinions and the belief that the programs instituted are the right directions for solving the problems at hand (Konstantin 2012). Even in their self-confidence, managers must be agreeable to facilitate accessibility to the person.
Managers should equally be adaptable at all times. Adaptability in this case refers to a personal reaction in stressful conditions and in failure. Adaptability encompasses emotional stability and self-criticism to help in self-control (Konstantin 2012). More important as a characteristic for a manager is intelligence. According to Konstantin (2012), individuals with high intelligence are imaginative curious and explorative. Thus in a competitive industry such as is the case with the airline industry where Southwest operated, originality and creativity are paramount. These two attributes, which are born out of intelligence, have been instrumental in Southwest’s success over the years. The company ranks as one with the lowest number of customer complaints and one of the best customer services. This is due to the creativity and originality in handling customer complaints and service, all inculcated in the company’s organizational culture (Smith 2005).
Possessing self-awareness and emotional intelligence for the airline industry can be an added advantage to the leader. Self-awareness is particularly import in the objective recognition of a personal situation, thus helping in the control of typical reactions, some of which may be catastrophic to the people around (Konstantin 2012). Moreover, emotional intelligence as a leadership attribute for the manager helps in copying with strange and problematic situations, in recognizing and controlling emotions. This is in addition to recognizing other people’s emotions and to adjusting behavior to the given emotions in a given situation (Konstantin 2012).
1.3 Communication Process in Southwest Airlines
Communication is the process of sending information from the sender to the receiver. The communication process begins with ideas in the sender, who then encodes the message, and using an appropriate channel, sends the message. The receiver, who sends back a feedback, then decodes the message. The feedback can be either positive or negative, depending on the receiver’s reaction to the message. At Southwest, communication forms an essential part of the airline’s operations. Indeed, the company owes its success to effective communication with clients, among employees and between the management and employees (Smith 2005). So important is communication for Southwest that communication forms part of its quality paradigms. For the company, there are two essential types of communication: frequent and timely and problem-solving (Smith 2005).
The process of communication in Southwest does not specifically follow an order. Transparency however remains the focal point for most communication. In essence, however, communication begins from the executive board, which then shares it proceedings with the employees. This way, employees are informed of any discussions and decisions undertaken by the board (Smith 2005). For verbal communication in customer handling, the customer service team is usually available to take any complaints from the customer. The complaint is then forwarded to the customer response team, which then responds to the customer’s complaint. Southwest additionally holds a passenger forum each year, where managers, directors, and senior managers attend, listen and answer customer inquiries.
To show its commitment to communication, Southwest launched a state-of-the-art listening center in its Dallas headquarters serving as the company’s communication nerve center (Pettit 2014). A first in the domestic market, the listening center integrates traditional media, social media and operational data, allowing faster and efficient movement of functions from vision to action (Pettit 2014).
For written communication, there are many avenues and communication channels that the company uses. Southwest uses both online and traditional print media for communication through newsletters, blogs and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr among others. Other written communication media include memos, letters, emails, fax and the company’s periodicals. The company uses and values written communication since they are both tangible and verifiable. Communication within the organisation is informal and therefore, employees can easily communicate with the management via emails. The management itself encourages communication via email on way of improving both customer service and employee relations in the organisation (Smith 2005).Before communication to the public however; the management ensures that employees are informed of whatever decisions they have made. Southwest does this through LUV Lines, the company’s employee newsletter.
1.4 Organizational Culture
By definition, organizational culture is a system of common assumptions, morals and beliefs governing the behavior of people in an organization. The shared assumptions play an important role in the organization dictating job performance, dressing, and actions of the individuals in the organization. It is noteworthy to mention that each organization develops and maintains a distinct organizational culture, providing guidelines and boundaries for the actions of members of the organization. Most employees are therefore indoctrinated on organizational culture the moment they are hired, therefore ensuring that they follow through on the organization’s culture (Erickson and Graton 2007).
In looking at organizational culture, there are four distinct types of organizational culture. These are controlled, compete (market), collaborate (clan) and adhocracy.
Also known as hierarchy, control organizational cultures are similar to huge bureaucratic corporations. Control organizational culture is characterized by strong stability and control, in addition to internal focus and integration (Tharp 2009). Additionally, hierarchical organizational culture value standardization, control and a strictly defined structure for authority and decision-making. Leaders in such organizations thrive on organization, coordination and monitoring of people and the various processes. Among companies with such organizational culture are McDonald’s and Ford Motor Company (Tharp 2009).
This type of organizational culture began in the 60s. While it maintains certain element of hierarchy such as control and stability, compete organizational culture have an external focus, valuing differentiation over integration (Tharp 2009). The culture was an attempt by American companies to find an effective solution to compete against foreign companies. With compete for organizational culture, companies “are focused on relationships—more specifically, transactions—with suppliers, customers, contractors, unions, legislators, consultants, regulators” (Tharp 2009, p. 3).Apple and General Electric are among companies using this type of organizational culture.
Like control, collaborate organization culture is inward focused, with specific concern for integration. Flexibility and discretion are however key in collaborate organizational cultures. Companies using clan culture emphasize on teamwork, with more value put on cohesion, humane working environment, loyalty and group commitment (Tharp 2009). In clan culture, “companies are made up of semi–autonomous teams that have the ability to hire and fire their own members and employees are encouraged to participate in determining how things would get done” (Tharp 2009, p. 4). Samsung, Tom’s of Maine and Toyota are among companies with the clan organizational culture.
Create organizational cultures, like clan, encourage flexibility and discretion. However, like the market organization culture, adhocracy is externally focused, with a concern for differentiation (Tharp 2009). Adhocracies are a response to the fast-paced volatile business environment, which measures success with the level of creativity and future-forward posture of the company. Google is one such company that encourages collaboration and discretion on its projects, yet also requires that teams focus on creating products that are market-focused to satisfy customer demands. This is visible in their Android tablet and phone operating system, which constantly undergoes review for upgrades.
Southwest follows adhocracy as its organisational culture in that while it focus on the market, it is also inward looking. The company follows an employee-centric culture, which largely focuses on creating a favourable working environment for the employees with the belief that this will translate into better services to the customer (Smith 2005). Indeed, the company’s organizational culture has worked making the company one of the best airline in customer service in the world.
With a focus on the employees, the company’s management insists on “an easy going relaxed corporate style that provides employees with extensive operational independence” (Smith 2005, p. 2). Employees are therefore free to make independent decisions without management verification, as long as the employees believe the decision is in the best interest of the employee, the customer and the company. Southwest considers employees its first customers, and therefore the need to treat the employees with respect, while allowing them to have fun at work. The company works with several quality paradigms that include timely and frequent communication and open communication between the management and employees. Additionally, the success of the company relies upon teamwork, informal hierarchy system and loyalty. So loyal are the company’s employees that after the 9/11 attack, most employees took pay cuts due to the decreased traffic, ensuring that no employee was laid off (Smith 2005).
As aforementioned the definition of leadership, depends on the context within which the word is used. However, in the general sense, leadership refers to setting up a direction for where one and his/her followers need to go. Leadership must be dynamic and inspiring for it to be effective. On the other hand, a theory is an introspective and logical form of abstract thinking. Leadership theories in essence, are therefore introspection and logical thinking on leadership.Scholars front theories as attempts to explain leadership based on characteristic traits of different forms of leadership, therefore informing on the underlying factors for the particular type of leadership. Among the theories of leadership include situational leadership, contingency theory, transactional leadership and transformational leadership.
Leading and motivating employees are part of the leader’s role in working towards the achievement of agreed goals and objectives. For a leader, therefore, leading and managing a team involves demonstrating trust. A leader should delegate tasks to employees as a means of empowering and stimulating innovation among the employees (Peterson 2007). Additionally, the teacher should project a positive attitude towards the project completion and the ability of each team member to contribute towards the completion of the project.
Presenting team members with clear goals and objectives is yet another way of leading and motivating employees. Projecting the clear goals ensures that team members are not confused over what they need to do (Peterson 2007). Even more important is that the goals need to be achievable to motivate and increase the team’s productivity. Clarity and achievability of the goals allows team members to embrace the vision towards the achievement of set goals and objectives.
Rewards additionally motivate team members towards the achievement of objectives. Thus, by setting clear and achievable goals and objectives, the leader should equally reward team members for equal measure of performance (Peterson 2007). Furthermore, the system must be seen to be fair and transparent, with an appreciation of team diversity.
Managers have the responsibility of ensuring the achievement of set goals and objectives. The manager must therefore take charge to ensure that the set goal and objectives are achieved. In justifying a manager’s decision, it is important to note that the manager has the responsibility of ensuring that the goals and objectives are achievement. Additionally, the manager must play a role in the achievement of the objectives by planning, guiding and directing employees towards the achievement of organizational objectives.
To improve decision-making, it is important that the manager create rapport with different teams and implementers (Pillay 2014). Managers should also involve all in the decision-making process. This includes managers, customers and employees, for an all-encompassing decision. Managers must also practice conflict management. Given the likelihood of occurrence of conflict within an organization, managers should therefore practice conflict management to ensure that at the rise of a conflict, the manager is well equipped to handle the conflict and reach an amiable solution (Pillay 2014).
Management is an integral part of any organization. It is the work of the managers to ensure that the organization goals and objectives are achieved through planning, direction and correction. Moreover, managers are instrumental in choosing and setting the kind of organizational culture that will work for the organization. Different organizational cultures are appropriate for different organizational needs and situations. By choosing a fitting culture, managers ensure that employee work in a favourable environment, in addition to working towards the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. At the centre of an organization is a manager who ensures employees are motivated to work. Further, managers must also put in place appropriate channels of communication, which will guarantee effective and efficient communication to customers, employees and management. Conclusively, management is an all-encompassing entity involving communication, customer and employee relations and resource management for the satisfaction of customers’ needs and creating a favourable working environment for the employees.
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