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Leadership and Culture in Innovation

Leadership and Culture in Innovation

Introduction

Liu Chuanzhi founded the Lenovo group in Beijing. The company was formed as a part of the computer institute of the Chinese Academy of sciences. In the beginning stages of the organization, Liu marketed it as a distributor of computers but produced their own branded computers in1990. Since this time, the company has become one of the biggest computer corporations not only in China but in the whole world. By 2006, the founder had managed to increase the market share and boost market leadership by over 25%. He had been holding this position for consecutive eight years. He has efficiently competed with other leading brands such as Dell, HP, and Toshiba and diversified other products, such as mobile phones and entertainment gadgets. Liu has used a combination of proper human resources practices to ensure that employees can maximize their potential for the innovation at the firm.

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Lenovo’s Leadership Strategies

Lenovo has many branches in more than 50 countries worldwide. Therefore, there is a need to have leadership that understands the diversity of all employees in different departments. The primary research centers of the company are located in Shanghai, Beijing, and North Carolina. The manufacturing assemblies are found in Mexico, the United States, China, and India. The company announced significant restructuring in 2009 after the global economic crisis (Mozur 2012, p. 3). Liu has managed to grow the corporation in twenty years from a small enterprise to the organization being now owned by foreign large-scale investors. Under his leadership, he came up with an option plan and incentives that encouraged young people to take up leadership positions. He has mixed the practices of Chinese enterprises with those ones of western ideologies to drive management ideas. It is widely believed that such a practical approach has led to the success of Lenovo and given the company a competitive edge in the computer industry.

Leadership Style at Lenovo

Leadership style is critical for any organization. It is essential that a leader can motivate the employees to work smart and grow the company. The manager needs to instill culture and encourage workers to come up with new ideas to ensure that the firm continues to have a place in the sphere (Aijala, Walsh & Schwartz 2014, p. 5). The today’s business environment demands that one should have good views from any position. Prohibitive management styles do not help in ensuring that employees carry out their work to the best of their abilities. In fact, it makes them very fearful and engages them in some games with their leaders (Edmondson 2013, p. 7). Lenovo has the practices that reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. Moreover, it pays attention to customers and cut across local boundaries by thinking from a global perspective. The leadership style has been vigorous; it needs not only to inspire others but also energize them into taking action.

 At one point, the organization sent its managers to highly performing firms so that they could observe how work had been completed and replicate the necessary values into their firm. Some of the leading factors that were found included speed, fixation on clients, and bias of action. Liu has two types of leadership styles (Alimo-Metcalfe 2008, p. 10). The first method is people oriented, which means that it is democratic. It allows employees to think of actions needed for tackling various problems. This aspect helps them to think out of the box and come up with new ways of doing things. Instead of forcing employees to use the particular pre-planned method of solving matters, it lets them think and come up with the solutions on their own.

 It also practices task-centered leadership. It is a bit more restrictive as compared to democratic leading style. The reason is that employees have to do things in a certain way to ensure that the particular project is completed. However, this leadership style is not inspiring. It is used in minimal cases to encourage and motivate employees to be as versatile as possible. The advantage of this method is that it improves teamwork; and team cohesiveness gets the job done as all members have a task to do in a certain way. It makes sure there are no misunderstandings (Edmondson 2013, p. 11). Liu also uses other leadership styles in the management of projects.

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Project management takes art as a group as opposed to as an individual. It does not happen in isolation. Project leaders at the company are encouraged to be both managers and followers. It means that they should lead as well as listen to any ideas that any of their team members may have (Alimo-Metcalfe et al. 2012, p. 15). When these relationships are nurtured, they go beyond the mere formal authority but lead to the application of influence over colleagues to affect the outcome of the project. There are three fundamental roles that a project manager is expected to carry out such as the interpersonal role. In this part, the leader acts as the figurehead in any liaison projects. There is an informational role, in which the one passes on the information and serves as a spokesperson for the group. Finally, there is a role of a decision maker, in which he or she is supposed to act as an entrepreneur and negotiator for the community's activities. Project leaders are the people that are meant to do the right thing. Meanwhile project managers are those individuals that do the things in the right way. Lenovo understands that these two ones are different things.

According to the company’s principles, some people hold senior positions but may be doing the wrong issues but correctly doing them. The part of the reason why many chiefs may be acting in a wrong way is an idea that they get from schools (Alimo-Metcalfe & Alban-Metcalfe 2008, p. 12). It has been established that the school system may teach persons to be competent management technicians. However, it has failed to teach them to be good chiefs. Liu emphasizes the need for interpersonal relationships that creates valid connections with other colleagues. According to Lenovo, some of people that have effective leadership have shown that they possess the management of trust can manage themselves effectively, know how to focus their attention to what is required, and understand the meaning of various actions and their implications for the company.

Challenges Faced by Lenovo

Some of the challenges faced by the company, particularly in its initial stages, were as follows. They did not know how to compete with the already established brands in the market, such as Dell and HP. However, the company has decided to come up with a project centered approach to gain the sizeable market share. This concept has been a major cause of success for the firm. Therefore, there is a need for the organization to invest in proper project management leadership styles.

Solutions

To be able to gain the market share, the company has changed its strategy and adopted such one that may result in its faster growth. Liu has adopted a project-focused plan for the organization. The strategy had particular steps to follow for it to be selected as a corporate strategy. The first step was to confirm the procedure in all its branches. This way the important tasks have been prioritized (Yin 2016, p. 6). The projects are such ones needed the cooperation of different departments in the corporation; and these ones were known as strategic activities. These projects vary widely from the research and design ones. In such ones, cost and time are not used as a measure of success. These activities are concerned with expanding into new markets, increasing the efficiency of the organization, and improving the satisfaction level of employees. Before that, the issue of strategic planning had been not taken seriously but with the introduction of project management. This aspect was now taken care of adequately. Lenovo has chosen strategic partnerships with companies such as Coca Cola and Pacific Century Cyber Works Company so that this entry model shortened the period, through which they had to enter the market.

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 The second step of the project was to standardize the supply chain. It improved efficiency of the supply chain (Hamm 2008, p. 18). As long as the company kept its commitments, they were able to adjust the entire management process. When the supply chain was simplified, the organization was able to improve its service capacity by more than 10%. The third step in the change of approach was paying attention to the emerging markets in the world. The countries are becoming a global village where many people use computers for their day to day activities. Lenovo has used the same model that was successful in China to run its operations in India. Using these practices, Liu was able to do better than the entire industry in the emerging markets, such as Mexico, Brazil, and Russia. The rapid growth that had been experienced in these areas is expected to continue in the following years.

Solutions in Project Management and Leadership

Lenovo has built the office surrounding dedicated to coordinating strategic projects. Between the years 2004 and 2005, the company had put up an organizational structure and distinct processes for the project management (Sima 2005, p. 17). The relationships among strategic leaders, project management offices, and budget resources were made formal. The rest of the department's regulations were expected to be in line with the rules of the project management environment. There were short regulations that gave the instructions to the organization’s departments. However, it is important to note that the project management office of Lenovo did not mess up any projects. In return, it offered training and gave the full information regarding standard procedures.

Liu has managed to show employees that the project management office was a useful tool in carrying out their work as opposed to the mere activity introduced by the administration. In fact, their integration of the system was so perfect that the company’s leader and his team have managed to win the excellent team award. He believed that particular conditions needed to exist for the project management to work successfully. The first circumstance was that the firm had to go through some difficulties. The second term was that the project office was done as a priority by the organization. The department needed to be led by a professional team that had to guarantee the following fact. The systems would be made specific to the needs of the business (Ling 2005, p. 11). It was also important to find out whether the culture of the organization could be appreciated for it to be easy to evaluate. In the past, strategic plans had not been financially supported. However, when the new strategy was adopted, the leadership of the company set aside some funds to evaluate the effectiveness of projects outside the already allocated resources.

Liu also has come up with the strategy that would enable the management professionals to grow. He understood the importance of training of talented employees to learn about the project management. Therefore, he sponsored them to take certified courses in the same way. The certification of the project management office is globally recognized (Ackers et al. 2010, p. 10). After Lenovo acquired the deal with the IBM, project managers came up with the platform to share some information and manage different teams in various countries. The certified courses that had been taken by the section of employees helped the firm standardize their processes. The training started from the departments being mostly technical. Therefore, when the team finished their courses, they trained the rest of the team members.

There is a hierarchy of positions introduced in the firm. Liu has introduced these posts to be able to motivate employees to work harder so that they could grow their careers. He understood that there had been the need for people to feel that they could grow in their capacity. Therefore, such positions were created to ensure that they had maximum job satisfaction. The example of positions created included the Corporate Research and Development created in 2001. There were also the positions for various levels of engineers. They included an assistant engineer, an engineer in charge, and an event managing engineer. Professionals were grouped into two fronts, i.e. their knowledge base and their performance. In 2006, Liu reorganized its global positions probably to bring about a change to the departments that were not performing as they should be. The change in positions was related to their salaries, even though the company had some limitations to the percentage of increase. The hierarchy has built the professional ladder that would enable them to grow career-wise.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it could be said that Liu understood the needs of employees. Therefore, he has undertaken effective leadership styles to ensure that the company has grown to the size that it is today. He realized that the workers needed to feel that they can build beyond what they are and hence created the positions to help them realize their dreams. His hand on approach is useful in giving people space to make decisions regarding their various tasks with no supervision. When employees feel that they have the word in what the company does, then they are more likely to engage in innovation activities. Allowing them to do so builds their minds and enables them to come up with the new ways of performing actions.

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