My vision of Leadership

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” (John C. Maxwell).

In this blog, I am discussing my vision and understanding of leadership, my inspiration as a leader and a reflection on the blogs that I have written earlier. I am also discussing the feedback that I have received from my peers and skills which I need to develop as I progress through my MBA to be able to have a good platform to start my career in banking.

My Vision & Understanding on effective leadership


Leaders play a vital role in the horizontal and vertical growth of an organization. They have to shoulder many important responsibilities and can lead a company towards success by chalking out a vision for the company and its employees. Such leaders are regarded as transformational in nature. They have the ability to meet the set and desired objectives by motivating and inspiring the people who work under them.


I am a firm believer that when it comes to leadership, ethics play a vital role in the success of a company. Ethical leadership is extremely important to gain the trust and commitment from the followers (Mihelič, et al. 2010). When a leader himself is not ethical, then people lose their faith in him and what he preaches, as you also can see in my first blog, where I do a indebt discussion of the topic.

This form of dynamic transformational leadership is my inspiration as well. Such leaders have the ability of taking people under their wings to polish them and turn them into success machines (Horwitch & Whipple 2014). These leaders are mainly responsible for bridging the gap between what a person actually is and what he aspires to become (Mihelič, et al. 2010). An inspirational leader has the following attributes:

  • Motivates his people
  • Creates a sound vision
  • Provides future direction and guideline
  • Inspires people

Leader, who inspires me

Skjermbilde 2016-04-02 22.13.41

Source 2: Horwitch 2014

Richard Branson, as I have mentioned earlier in my blogs, is the classic example of such transformational leader (Toma & Marinescu 2013). His transformational approach of leadership makes him an inspiration for me. He stimulates his employees, listens to their perspective and empowers them by giving them an authority of their venture (Mirzah4, 2016).


During my module, I have come across a number of various leadership theories and models, which have assisted me in building and analysing my leadership skills. Particularly, Hofstede model, 4-v and Belbin’s team-role model have assisted me a lot. These theories and models also helped me differentiate between various types of leaders. It made me recognize my strengths and weakness, as well, as a leader. This course has aided me to polish my strengths and work on my weaknesses.


During my group work sessions, I realized that I have the ability to lead my group members. I got the opportunity to lead my team on many occasions and which helped me to identify the true leader inside me. Based on the feedback that I have received from my fellows, I realized that I have the power to make people work and listen to me. I can also make my team deliver a good quality work even under pressure. The feedback that I received from my peers on many occasions including leadership module, was quite positive. But I also have some flaws. A thing that I was not aware of before my peers told me, was that I sometimes can push my decisions through even if I am the only one feeling that is the right decision. When working on the Hofstede model I wanted to analyse this further. The feedback came from people according to the Hofstede model nations with high power difference, I realized that I had adapted the Norwegian dimensions where the power difference is quite low. I was just fighting for my case and justifying what I felt was the right thing to do, but my peers felt I was forcing the decision. This is a factor which I will have to be aware of if I´m leading a multicultural team in the future.

However, I twice had a privilege to lead my team in this module; I have learned some key factors that are very important for any leader, in order to lead his team successfully. It is very important for any leader to be aware of the cultural background and the differences of his team members (mirzah4 2016: Blog 2).

Skjermbilde 2016-04-02 22.13.52

Source 3: Thomas 2016

Initially, my team had some understanding barriers due to cultural differences, however they started getting along as they got to learn about the background of their colleagues. I would work on my cultural awareness skill in order to strive well in future.


I believe that I can polish my skills before and while I am in the banking industry. The banking industry seem to be very audacious and suits my aptitude as well. Therefore, I believe that I can grow in that area. This will also allow me to implement all my skills in the right area and I will be able to learn even more. Real work experience will also allow me to learn from true leaders who are currently working in the industry.

However, at the same time it is extremely important for me to remember the ethics and values. Therefore, if there is a misfit between my values and the organizational ethics then I must make a wise decision and should choose the organization wisely.





Change is nothing new and a simple fact of life. Some people actively thrive on new challenges and constant change, while others prefer the comfort of the status quo and strongly resist any change. It is all down to the personality of the individual and there is little management can do about resistance to change” (Mullins 2011: 712).



In order to survive on this planet, it is a certainty that every individual experiences change. Change is the requirement of time and those who do not fulfill this requirement become a victim of those who transforms with the changing needs.

Many huge global giants who failed to fulfill the requirements of the changing time have met a devastating end (Beckhard & Pritchard 1992). Global corporations including Nokia and Motorola and even Kodak have been erased completely due to their lack of flexibility, which did not allow them to incorporate change within their organizations.

Their space have been filled by new and flexible brands including Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, which have been altering their course of action with the passage of time (Carnall, 2007). These successful corporations took advantage of the altering demands and preferences of the consumers and adjusted their products according to the varying taste of their target market.  

Change is a global phenomenon but still many people of us think and ask ourselves that why do change occurs. What are factors that lead to change? So first, let us begin with the explanation of this phenomenon.


How Can You Define Change?


The only thing, which is certain in life, is “change”. Change is present in every sphere of life (Goodman et al. 1982). When it comes to an organization, it has been deduced that change is the result of both external and internal factors. The external factors incorporate the change in the rules and regulations, government policies, introduction of new technology and economic changes (Carnall, 2007). The internal factors incorporate the organizational leadership, changes made in the policy of the company, conflicts between different departments and HR policies of a company.


How People respond to change in Organizations?


When it comes to an organization, the management and especially the supervisor or leader is majorly responsible for instigating change among its employees (Yuki, 1981). But most of the times, it has been observed that when change occurs in an organization employees respond in four classic ways (Smith, 1982). 

Common Employee Responses to Change
Eager Beaver Tentative Employees Psychologically Challenged Recalcitrant
People who welcome change & want to play a major role in implementing change within the organization These people have an unsure response towards change They are confused and are reluctant towards change (Hovland et al 1953). These people are scared of change. They have an unstable personality and require medical assistance to overcome a changing scenario. These people are a major threat for an organization as they have negative, and in some cases, hostile feelings towards change (George & Jones 2001).


The Lweis Kurt’s model is frequently used by most of the companies to implement change within their management. The model is a combination of three phases; Unfreezing, Change Implementation and refreezing (Hovland et al 1953).

How Apple Managed to survive by adapting to change

The Lewin’s Change Model can be applied to many successful companies, which have implemented change in their management in order to succeed.  When it comes to change and adaption, Apple comes to mind. Apple initially entered the IT industry as a computer making company (Simpson 2011). From there it embarked on a journey of many ups and down.

Initially Apple was not a very lucrative and prestigious company as it is now. It was only under the tutelage of its inspirational leader Steve Job, Apple found its true direction. In the early 90’s Apple realized that it is facing extreme challenge in the computer industry and from there it started its journey towards change. The period of unfreezing started and Apple came up with iPods, which were a major hit. The change implementation required the employees of Apple to alter their thinking pattern and think outside the box. The process of refreezing began as Apple became sure of its objectives and altered the perception of the consumers towards it (Dunne & Martins 2006). The company faced very less resistance from its employees as it continued to engage its employees during the entire phase of change implementation

But despite the fact that many companies use the Lewin’s change model, it has several disadvantages. It is extremely goal oriented and ignores the feelings of the employees involved. It usually creates a conflict between the employees as some are in favor of the change while others resent it (McNulty & Ferlie 2004).

Therefore, it can be rightfully conclude, that change is a necessity in order to survive and succeed in this rapidly changing world. The competition is increasing with each passing day. In such a scenario, adapting to change acts as a competitive advantage for the companies. However, the companies need to engage their employees in the change implementation process in order to reduce their level of resistance.



  • Beckhard, R. and Pritchard, W., (1992). Changing the essence: The art of creating and leading fundamental change in organizations.
  • Carnall, C.A., (2007)Managing change in organizations. Pearson Education.
  • Dunne, D. and Martin, R., (2006) Design thinking and how it will change management education: An interview and discussion.Academy of Management Learning & Education5(4), pp.512-523.
  • George, J.M. and Jones, G.R., (2001) Towards a process model of individual change in organizations.Human relations54(4), pp.419-444.
  • Goodman, P.S., Kurke, L.B., Argyris, C., Staw, B.M. and Alderfer, C.P., (1982).Change in organizations. CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIV PITTSBURGH PA GRADUATE SCHOOL OF INDUSTRIAL ADMINISTRATION.
  • Hovland, C.I., Janis, I.L. and Kelley, H.H., (1953) Communication and persuasion; psychological studies of opinion change.
  • Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T. and Tseng, B., (2007) August. Why we twitter: understanding microblogging usage and communities. InProceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD (2007) workshop on Web mining and social network analysis (pp. 56-65). ACM.
  • McNulty, T. and Ferlie, E., (2004) Process transformation: Limitations to radical organizational change within public service organizations. Organization studies,25(8), pp.1389-1412.
  • Simpson, S. D., (2011). Investopedia. (Online) Retrieved 22nd March 2016 from
  • Smith, K.K., 1982. Philosophical problems in thinking about organizational change.Change in organizations316, p.374.
  • Yuki, G., 1981.Leadership in organisations. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Most Effective Leadership & Management styles & approaches

“Which personal style should managers adopt to ensure success? What is the most effective approach to managing the work of subordinates? These questions have been extensively researched and debated over the last century, and while the general consensus has moved away from ‘command and control’ to management and leadership towards more consultative and participative approaches, there is no single ideal, as the best approach may vary according to circumstances and individual characteristics” (CMI 2013).

Leadership vs Management


Before we discuss which leadership or managements style is the most effective, we need to understand the basic differences between management and leadership.

Management is according to Mullins (2013:421) “Achieved through the effort of other people” and leadership is according to Yukl (2010:26) the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives. In the table under you can see the different roles compares to each other (Draft, 1991).

Skjermbilde 2016-03-26 19.45.06.png

Both managers and leaders are responsible for a group of people working towards a common goal. But where the manager mainly focuses on organizing, planning and procedures, a leader focuses on the people he is leading (Zalzeknik, 2004). Leadership is based on trust and inspiration and the takes a role as coach for the people. Management on the other hand focuses more on control and authority, and has the role a boss (Kotter, 1991).

There a numerous research on this topic, suggesting that a leader is the one who creates and invents.


Leadership styles

There are numerous theories and studies on leadership and leadership styles. Kurt Lewin (1930) developed the behavioral theory which focuses on three different leadership styles; Autocratic, Democratic and Lassez-faire Leadership.


Autocratic Leadership


Autocratic/authoritarian leadership can be best described as dictatorship. This style where the leader/manager take decisions on their own, without suggestions or approval from others and have full control of the company (Mullins 2013:382). Also they have an authoritarian leadership style and high power. This style is effective when decision needs to be made quickly (Gill, 2014).

Donald Trump is a good example of autocratic leader. He is the CEO and the founder of Trump Organization. He has centralized all the decision-making power to him and a few executives, giving the rest of the employees limited opportunity to contribute or have an input in decisions (Mueller 2015). This leadership style has served him well as he is one of the richest persons in the US, and running as a presidential candidate. Even some newspapers have compared him to former autocratic leaders such as Adolph Hitler (The Telegraph, 2015).


Democratic Leadership

A democratic leadership style is where the team is encouraged to contribute in the decision-making. The functions are distributed between different members and leader/manager is a part of team, quite opposite of autocratic leadership style (Mullins, 2013:282). Members of the team has a greater say in policies, decision-making and implementing new procedures.

“You have to listen to the people who have a negative opinion as well as those who have a positive opinion. Just to make sure that you are blending all these opinions in your mind before a decision is made” -Carlos Ghosn (Source:


Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan, automotive company from France and Japan believed in empowerment of the employees to contribute in the decision-making. He believed that change in the companies’ organizational culture should come from them, not be forced from the top (Forbes, 2015).


Lassez-Faire Leadership

This style is where the leaders let the employees do what they think is the best. There are minimal restrictions and interference from the leaders. Employees are given most of the power to make decisions, goals and encouraged to solve problems on their own (Mullins 2013:382).

Sir Richard Branson is successful leader who uses Lassez-faire leadership style. He believes that you can´t offer the best to customer, unless you are offering the best to your employees. If you allow your employees to be free and happy, their performance will improve. In the Virgin group they believe in transparency and no barriers or policies in communication. According to Richard Branson this is the secret to the companies’ success (, 2012).

What is the most effective style?

CMI 2013, “There is no perfect approach as the best approach may vary with the situation and individual characteristics” (Managers 2013).

I can without hesitations say that I agree in the above statement. The leadership style should be dependent on the type of company and the employees. If we take a stock broker as an example, which is a fast paced market. If decisions about which stock to buy or sell was being made by one person on the top or by a large group of people, this would prove very ineffective as the market turns very quickly.

On the other hand, in large car assembling factory where completing a car is dependent on many teams there is need for a set of ground rules and instructions to be efficient.


From who and how I would I like to be led

I prefer to be led by a combination of lassez-faire and democratic approach such as Sir Richard Branson and Carlos Ghosn. I work best when I know what I have to do, and when it needs to be done, but how I do it is up to me. Both these leaders have had great success and are role models in their respective industries.



The Challenge of Managing Diverse Teams

“Research has consistently shown that diverse teams produce better results, provided they are well led. The ability to bring together people from different backgrounds, disciplines, cultures, and generations and leverage all they have to offer, therefore, is a must-have for leaders” (Ibarra and Hansen 2011: 71)


In this post I am exploring what impact of diverse teams in a workplace and how can the banking industry use this to better their performance. Should the ability to manage a diverse team be the most important skill for a manager?

“The fact is that if we effectively exclude women, ethnic minorities and disabled persons we are fishing in a smaller pool for the best possible talent” – J.M. Barry Gibson, former Chief Executive of Littlewoods (Cited by Mullins, 2013 p. 156)

Diversity in the workplace is more common than ever before, therefor it is important for the management to understand how cultural expectations and behaviours influence the organizations performance and how to adapt accordingly (Hopkins B. 2012). Diversity can be different cultural and social values, ethnicity, gender or personality amongst other factors (Mullins 2012:135). It aims to all the ways people differ from each other (Samartino et. Al. 2002). Hopkins states that many leadership theories are evolved by and for the western organizations, and they will not have the intended effect in other organizations. For example, people have assumed that a good leader can lead anyone oSkjermbilde 2016-03-13 15.43.11
r anywhere, but in realty different people and cultures need different abilities in their leader. This is also can be seen in the study by Geert Hofstede, which I will discuss further down in this post (The Hofstede Centre 2016).

“The next decade could prove to be an extraordinary era for business and society—a period in which companies and governments
work together to produce an environment capable of supporting wealth creation and social cohesion around the globe. The worldis connected as it has never been before, and the power of collaboration is beginning to emerge.” – Akhil Gupta Bharti Airtel Limited, India (Source: PWC – Talent Mobility 2020)


According to a study by the “Australian Centre for International Business” (ACIB) (Sammartino et al. 2000) diverse teams achieve better performance, because they can gather pool of ideas and solutions to tasks. Also according to ACAS as cited by Mullins (2013:156) a more diverse team, attracts a diverse customer base, positively effect revenue and performance. As a result, organizations that pursue diversity compared to those who doesn’t, will have higher chances to succeed in a highly competitive market.

Skjermbilde 2016-03-20 17.29.13

Source: Hunt et al (2015)

Lloyds TSB understood the need for diversity, they acknowledge that their customer base is diverse and therefore it is necessary to have a diverse team to better understand their needs (Lloyds 2016). Lloyds established a diversity programme, and are strongly committed to diversity in their organization. They participate in national benchmarking exercises where they can monitor performance, progress over time and also compare their result to other organizations. Key points in their programme includes diversity metrics, where they monitor all aspect of the workforce and reported to be able to asses their progress. Employee Research where they continuously carry out research of the staff to ensure that right strategies are used to their needs ().


Hofstede cultural dimensions

Taking myself as an example, as I have combined two cultures from my childhood since my parents are from Pakistan, but I am born and raised in Norway. It has always been important for my parents and myself that I do not forget my heritage, but combine them with Norwegian values. There are many major differences in those two cultures, this also shown in Hofstede research (The Hofstede Centre, 2016).

Skjermbilde 2016-03-13 18.31.09

There are three dimensions where differences which are very clear; Individualism, masculinity and indulgence. In Pakistani culture is marked as a

collectivistic society where relationships, loyalty and unity are very important, but in Norwegian being an Individualistic culture, the most important thing is the individual and the people closest to it and the society encourages the individual opinions and values. I have seen these differences in the way my father and uncles do business, and my previous ethnic Norwegian employers do business. Mainly there is a big difference in the leadership styles and decision making. My father trust in experience and traditions and runs his business in an authoritarian style. On the other hand, my previous Norwegian employers have a stronger believe in change and innovation, and encouraging everyone to contribute with their ideas. This is shows that Hofstede research is still very applicable, as this is also reflected in the chart above.


Team Roles

Meredith Belbin discovered that a team containing of people with similar personalities or exclusively of clever people, has a tendency to have low creativity and negative results (Mullins, 2013:335). But a group composed of a variety of personalities and roles tends to have a higher frequency to be successful.  Belbin´s team roles are shown in the table under with the key features and allowable weaknesses.

Skjermbilde 2016-03-20 17.28.45


According to Belbin a “dream team” consist of a balance between of all of the nine roles and the member complete each others gaps (allowable weakness). Belbin´s team roles has been put under question in a study by Artizeta, Swailes and Senior (Mullins 2013:337). Some of parts questioned by the is relationship between the role of personality and the team role, insufficient account taken for what kind of task is performed by the teams and the theoretical basis of the inventory.  However, they the author do not conclude that the theory is invalid, but there are some uncertainties which can be elaborated further.




Going back to the initial question of how the banking industry can benefit from diversity, this blogpost evidentially shows that diversity has a positive impact in work teams and also underlines the statement by Ibarra and Hanson (2011) that diverse teams perform better, if they are well led and the ability to manage diverse teams is a must have for leaders. We can se that banks such as Lloyds and Bank of England have embraced diversity and are focused on developing (, 2016). According to the research by BBA banks does not only focus on diversity on a general level, but also on a local level to break down barriers in communities and customer groupings.


This video explains how The Banks of America embraces diversity and inclusion.

“Its about being inclusive, not exclusive” – Bank of America

Source: Youtube 2011


Ethical Leadership

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do – Potter Stewart

In this blog I will try to do an indebt discussion the subject of ethics in leadership, and provide insight on the different theories and the effects of this in the real business world. There are two principle theories in ethics deontological (rules) which focuses mainly on if the actions ethical good or bad itself and not on the result achieved (Kant). The other theory, teleological (Consequentialist) which emphasized the result of the action rather than the action (Bentham/Mills) (

Skjermbilde 2016-03-09 19.38.39

Ethical leadership according to Mullins (2013 p. 676) relates to “good and bad, or right or wrong”, and interpreting what makes certain things good and certain bad. Ethical leadership and ethical business has become more relevant in recent years. Especially after the crisis back in 2008. Keith Sharp, marketing director of India´s Tata Group is quoted saying” We´re increasingly seeing that our prospects and customers want to be dealing with, and seen to be dealing with, a company that is trustworthy, reliable, ethical and honest” (Mullins 2013 p.664). Ethical leadership is divided in to two parts, first a leader must behave ethically and make decisions ethically. The second part is that a leader must lead ethically. This can be in daily interactions and attitudes towards employees ( n.d.).

In a study done by Bowden and Smythe (2008), they conclude with that you can´t make an individual ethical just by teaching him ethics. In the studies they found that people learn more from their idols or role models such as teachers, parents etc. instead of books or theories. For example, children are more likely to follow a practical example from their teacher, rather than follow instructions given by a teacher. This indicates that ethics can not be taught trough books or guidelines, but an influential role model can imbue an awareness of morals and responsibility trough his behaviour and actions (Bowden & Smythe, 2008).


In another study they found that ethics are learned behaviour, not a natural part of an individual. Ethics are adapted from the society an individual live in, learned trough conscience and the norms in the society. If we look at it from this angle, it can be argued that ethics can be taught (Ryan & Jeremy 2011).



4-V ModelSkjermbilde 2016-03-09 19.11.07


The 4-V model created by Dr. Bill Grace is rooted in the theories of moral development, human development, leadership development and community development. Values and vision identifies and gives purpose and the direction to the group. These two are the most important dimensions of leadership. Giving voice to these dimensions provides the group dynamics, as its important to understand the values and vision. Virtue covers principle, sensitivity to relationships, commitment to the common good and distinguishes ethical leadership (The Center for Ethical Leadership, 2014).

“Humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.” – Bill Gates

For instance, Microsoft and Bill Gates is a good example of how to use the 4-v model. Bill Gates the co-founder of Microsoft and the wealthiest man in the world is one of the foremost advocates of a better world and equality, which can also be seen throughout his leadership of Microsoft and his vision “leave the world a better place than you found it” (, 2016). Bill Gates has used his time energy and wealth to set up Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight and create awareness of healthcare and diseases in the the third world. He also uses his influence to encourage other wealthy people to contribute to these good purposes.

Through his ethical leadership and attitude, Microsoft has named on of the ethical companies in 2014 by Ethisphere (Eweek, 2016).


Volkswagens (VW) recently emission-scandal is an example of unethical leadership. The company had installed a software called “diesel-gate” in their cars to detect when they were tested for emissions. This software changed the car´s performance to improve the emissions result, and the car appeared more eco friendly. Volkswagens chief executive Martin Winterkorn said after the scandal “We have broken the trust of our customers and the public” and resigned is post. VW is working to win back the consumers trust and build their image again. As a result of the scandal VW reported it´s first quarterly loss in October 2015 in the last 15 years, mainly for cover costs. In addition, they can be fined up to $18 billion for the scandal (Hotten, 2015). The pressure to continuously expand and increase profits lead the leaders and the engineers to behave unethically to achieve their goals.


To conclude, an organization is as ethical as its leader. The leaders are role-models for their employees and the people working with them. As discussed people tend to easier learn behaviours from their role models, and therefore a leaders ethical/unethical behaviour has a major impact the whole organization.