Would you characterize Rakesh Gangwal was an authoritarian, a democratic, or a laissez-faire leader?
Problem-Solving Case Assignment: Chapter 2 (8) – “The Supervisor as Leader”. “Top-Down and Bottom-Up Style at US Airways”, page 50 (220) . Read the problem-solving case carefully. Using the textbook as your primary source (you are free to use any additional outside sources to provided additional support for your submission), provide your written response to case questions 1, 2, and 3. Begin your submission with an overview (not a regurgitation) of the case. Respond to the questions outlined in the case in a 2-3 page, double spaced, essay format. DO NOT RESPOND IN A Q & A format. It is recommended that you use headings to indicate how you are responding to each question.
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1.Would you characterize Rakesh Gangwal was an authoritarian, a democratic, or a laissez-faire leader? Why?
2. Do you think Gangwal should have been more of a servant leader? Explain your answer
3. US Airways recently declared bankruptcy and announced plans to restructure itself as a discount airline similar to JetBlue or American West. How do you think this change in the business environment affects the role of leading US Airways? Does bankruptcy require a different kind of leadership? Imagine you were a supervisor of baggage handlers for US Airways. How do you think the bankruptcy filing and restruturing would affect the way you should lead your group?
Source- Adam Bryant “Like his mentor at US Airways chief has an eye for details” The New York Times November 29, 1998.
TO appreciate the attention to detail of Rakesh Gangwal, who was recently promoted to chief executive of US Airways Group, consider this: While reviewing a training tape for flight attendants, he was dismayed to see the person portraying a business traveler lick her finger to turn a magazine page. Of course, she was not trying to model behavior for the flight attendants. But no matter: Mr. Gangwal said it should have been caught and changed.
”The tape was about excellence, and we don’t want to depict that image, even to ourselves,” he said. ”It slipped through the system.”
And it is not just training videos he reviews. If there is any menu alteration, or any change to the script for flight attendant announcements, or any adjustment in the responsibilities of maintenance foremen, Mr. Gangwal wants to know about it.
Sweating the details has long been the hallmark of US Airways’ chairman, Stephen M. Wolf, for whom Mr. Rakesh has worked at United Airlines, Air France and US Airways, where the two executives took charge early in 1996. And so it is not surprising that Mr. Gangwal shares aspects of his management style.
But with the appointment of Mr. Gangwal as chief executive — Mr. Wolf remains chairman — Mr. Gangwal now moves over to the captain’s seat. His flight plan is ambitious: to expand the airline’s route network and its fleet, and to improve its profitability and key measures of its service. Indeed, he and Mr. Wolf have made quick progress on all these fronts, including sharp improvements in on-time performance.
BUT what intrigues many about Mr. Gangwal is his seemingly contradictory management style. It is top-down, in that he reviews decisions deep in the organization. But it is also bottom-up: He has established dozens of task forces, involving employees in addressing everything from inadvertent deployment of evacuation chutes to the launch of Metrojet, the low-cost operation US Airways established to better compete with Southwest Airlines and Delta Express.
”I love it when front-line employees come up with ideas, because I know they are the things that generally work,” he said.
His style, Mr. Gangwal acknowledged, can be difficult for division heads to adjust to, since they must be able to accept direction not only from Mr. Gangwal but also from lower-level employees. Yet those executives are also expected to have strong ideas of their own and make things happen quickly. Of the roughly 30 executives in jobs at the vice-president level or above when Mr. Wolf and Mr. Gangwal arrived, about three-quarters have been replaced.
”I do impose my views in setting direction and in what we are trying to attain, but then I let the process take over,” he said. ”It’s a very fine line.”
A NATIVE of Calcutta, Mr. Gangwal came to the United States to get an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he helped pay his tuition by teaching math and statistics to fellow students. He first worked at United as a consultant with Booz-Allen & Hamilton, then joined United in 1984 as manager for strategic planning. It was shortly after he was put in charge of the company’s yield-management system — an arcane science of maximizing revenues — that Mr. Wolf arrived to run United.
If nothing else, Mr. Gangwal said, he probably made an impression on his new boss with his candor, explaining that he had just been given his new assignment and that it would be a long time before he understood it well. ”But I’m getting deep into this stuff, I find it exciting, and we’ll do a lot of creative things,” Mr. Gangwal recalled quickly adding at the time.
He did that and more. Mr. Gangwal overhauled United’s route structure, including building up its Denver hub. And when Mr. Wolf left the airline in 1994 in the wake of an employee buyout and began consulting with Air France, he recruited his former lieutenant to Paris. Mr. Gangwal quickly introduced modern airline business practices to Air France. The fact that he did not know French was a blessing in disguise, he said, because he did not have to read lengthy reports on pending decisions that, to him, were obvious.
When Mr. Wolf was recruited to USAir (he renamed it US Airways), he told the board he would not come without Mr. Gangwal. And now Mr. Wolf is pulling back, confident that Mr. Gangwal is watching the details.
That means long days for Mr. Gangwal. He is in the office here by 7 in the morning and heads home by 7 P.M. to spend some time with his 9-year-old daughter, including helping her with mathematics. (”Math cleanses your mind for thinking clearly,” he said.) Then he puts in a couple more hours of work before bed. He likes to travel, and — before the current professional basketball strike — occasionally took in an N.B.A. game. His heart is with United’s hometown Chicago Bulls, but he also likes the Washington Wizards.
Eventually, he expects not to worry so much about details, but it won’t be soon.
”Steve has the amazing ability to let go when things are going right,” he said. ”That’s something I definitely want to learn, but at this stage I feel that there are too many things I want to put my imprint on as we build this airline.”
Photo: Rakesh Gangwal, the new chief executive of US Airways, sweats the details wherever he goes, including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, near the company’s headquarters
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