Sample Research Paper on Uncharacteristic Style of Leadership

Uncharacteristic Style of Leadership


The leadership style used in an organization is a strategic aspect that defines the success of that institution. As such, each successful leader should have a vision, confidence, personality, astuteness, and social skills. Similarly, such a successful leader in an organization should be ethical in his/her undertakings. Therefore, the role of leadership within an organization is to motivate workers to develop a positive attitude towards a certain assigned role to achieve corporate goals. Conversely, the assessment of a leader is based on his/her leadership style that helps to provide direction, set corporate goals, and motivate the employees. Three main leadership styles commonly used in an organization are authoritarian, participative, and delegate. Additionally, the debate about the best leadership style has led to leadership theories that explain the approach used by a leader. Examples of leadership theories include trait, behavioral, situational, and contingency (Baack, 2012). Many articles have reported how leaders have used their position within an organization to their advantage at the expense of the workers. An example is the previous CEO of Home Depot Inc, Robert Nardelli. He was highly criticized based on his approach to leadership and methods he used while serving as the CEO (Grow et al., 2007).  This paper is set to describe the leadership of Robert Nardelli, his approach to leadership based on the theories stated above, and state whether his methods were ethical or unethical.






Robert Nardelli

GE culture was based on the value achieved in the balance sheet to measure its successful leaders. Contrarily, the co-founders of Home Depot established this organization on an entrepreneurial principle to measure successful leaders. The workers are semi autonomous in their individual work domains and solemnly apply their own creativity and decisions in performing their duties. The initial step Nardelli orchestrated in his new institution was to change the culture at Home based on his ideology and leadership style. For example, he initiated a restructuring drive where he replaced skillful permanent employees with other less experienced workers on a contract basis, introduced a central center of operations, new technologies, and a ‘do-it-yourself’ consumer model (Grow et al., 2007).

Trait Theory

Nardelli’s performance at the new organization was undisputed to be statistically awesome. However, his approach of the authoritarian style that he acquired as an employee at GE introduced a new culture in the company. His leadership style can be described in the context of the leadership theories to determine whether it was tight or wrong. The trait theory is about the personality and conduct of a leader that differentiates him/her from other employees. For example, a leader who is extra verse, confident, and intelligent will always stand out in an organization (Baack, 2012). Additionally, the trait theory holds the perspective that effective leaders are born with the unique personalities that make them better leaders. Since the trait theory focuses on the individual characteristics as the determinant of success, it is expected that such leaders can be able to replicate their success even when they change jobs. However, in the situation of Nardelli, he did not exhibit the trait theory at all. His autocratic leadership style was influenced by his previous experience at the GE Company.


Behavioral Theory

Based on the behavioral theory, undertakings by both the leader and the employees connected to performance are obtained. In addition, the theory acknowledges the importance of leaders providing the intrinsic motivation for workers to promote their output and achieve high goals. The leaders who influence their workers positively realize better results compared to those who do not motivate their employees. In this particular case, Nardelli failed to use a behavioral approach to develop his workers as future leaders. Instead, he imposed policies that created leaders that had a domineering perspective in their approach to leadership. The behavioral theory gives precedence to the actions of a leader rather than the personality and characters he/she possesses. As such, effective leaders are not born, but workers can be trained to become good leaders (Baack, 2012).

Situational Theory

The situational theory articulates that an effective leader is capable of adapting to the prevailing workplace environment. It is expected that the leader will change his/her leadership style based on the status influencing the organization. This method of leadership is difficult to be adopted, especially for leaders who have a certain ideology of leadership. However, this theory cannot be easily applied to the situation of Nardelli. Whereas his leadership style is expected to be evaluated in relation to a situational leader, Nardelli hold a contrary opinion. He initiated the policy changes because he believed that Home Depot workplace situation should adapt to his style of leadership. Moreover, failure by Nardelli to adapt to the situation denied him the leader- follower relationship that was the hallmark of Home Depot. The employees expected a leader who would have initiated policies that would highlight their needs besides promoting corporate goals. Nardelli failed to offer what this and only focused on organization needs.

Contingency Theory

The contingency theory provides that an effective leadership style should be consistent with the task orientation of the workers to achieve their optimal performance (Baack, 2012). As such, the leader should be in a good position to consider both internal and external situations and initiate the appropriate leadership style.  The leadership style of a leader can be evaluated based on four variables namely; task motivated, leader-employees relationship, work structure, and centralization of power (Grow et al., 2007). In the case of Nardelli, he failed to critically examine the internal and external situations while articulating his style of leadership. For example, he introduced a centralization of power within the company and its subsidiaries limiting the independence of decision-making. This resulted in reducing the motivation of the employees in performing their tasks. Therefore, his style restricted workers from achieving their optimal performance.

Ethical Concern

The ethical performance of Nardelli can be assessed based on how he was able to articulate the leadership theories. His new policies gutted the effectiveness of the organization through replacing the experienced permanent employees with less skilled contracted workers. As a result, consumer satisfaction was affected and the number of complaints increased under his reign. His leadership style alienated consumers, workers, and the shareholders. Further, all stakeholders were exasperated because of his attractive compensation at the expense of the languishing stock market. The ethical concern of Nardelli explains his fate at the organization. For example, his initial policy to replace experienced workers cost the organization’s stock prices. In addition, he displayed an arrogant behavior during the final annual meeting, which prompted the board to fire him. Therefore, based on the leadership theories, his leadership style was unethical, especially in the manner he treated his workers, shareholders, and the organization’s consumers. It is a business ethics to accord the customer respect at all times to ensure that an organization achieve its goals. However, by replacing the best-suited employees who handled customers with respect, the new less skilled employees failed to meet the expectation of the consumers.


Leadership is an important aspect that determines organization’s success. Every business entity should carefully recruit its leader so that workplace efficiency and productivity is promoted. CEO of Home Depot Inc, Robert Nardelli was highly criticized for his autocratic leadership style when he took over in the new company. His leadership style was termed as unethical because he overlooked the need of customers, employees, and shareholders. Applying the leadership theories, Nardelli does not exhibit behavioral, trait, situational, and contingency theories. However, he stand out as an autocratic leader who replaced experienced workers with less skilled workers, introduced a central system, and orchestrated a ‘do-it-on your own’ customer approach. Since his actions never considered the needs of the customers, employees, and shareholders, his leadership style was unethical.







Baack, D. (2012). Organizational Behavior. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc

Charan, R. (2006). Home Depot’s blueprint for culture change. Harvard Business Review, 84(4),             60-70.

Grow, B., Foust, D., Thornton, E., Farzad, R., McGregor, J., & Zegal, S. (2007). Out at home           depot. Business Week.  Retrieved from