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Managing Change In British Airways

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Manchester Metropolitan University Business School

Masters in Business Administration (MBA)

Full Time

Managing Human Performance

Student -Shabbir Hussain

Lecturer - Allan Macpherson

Date - 8th January 2007


This assignment presents a critical analysis of Bob Ayling's Strategies towards change at a time when company was running successfully. This paper discusses issues such as leadership, change management, motivation and the impact of his strategies on organisation and on its employees. At the start it focuses on his leadership style followed with his approach towards change and motivation. It concludes that Bob Ayling's vision of change and strategies were correct but the way he tried to achieve his goals were not admired by employees or people around him and were not successful.


Leaders are those who make organisation successful and their leadership makes the organisation grow and achieve its goal. Leader encourages and motivates their followers. Definitions of leadership are as follows.

"Leadership is about having a set of values and believing in them, but it is also having foresight, knowledge and intuition, especially about people. Leaders can not expect others to believe in them if they do not believe in themselves."

Malpas M. (2006 cited by Porter K. et al, 2006)

"Leadership is the process in which an individual influence other group members towards the attainment of group or organisational goal."

Shackleton (1995 cited by Torrington D. et al, 2005)

If we try to put Bob Ayling in these definitions. He doesn't fit in it because he didn't influence his employees instead he force them. He thought he has analysed the figures and situation and as per him the cost cutting was necessary but he didn't explain to his employees why the change is required and he didn't took his management in confidence. Initially he was using his authoritative power to change but after the set back from employee anger like strikes, he started improving staff moral by introducing training programs, building a hotel only for employees at waterside and communicating with employees which show that he was change attitude towards employees.

Bob Ayling leadership was autocratic, task oriented and transactional. His approach was hard towards the radical change and employees. As quoted by him "Although I might see a change as necessary because I have analysed the figures and it's my job to consider the long term. Most People in most jobs in the company don't think like that. They think about day to day things that's as it should be - so it's not at all obvious to them why the change I think have to be made, have to be made." He did not convey the message why the change is required and he did not involved his management or employees in strategies. One of the biggest approach he took for Cost cuts was Job cuts a very hard approach for any organisation which will leads consequence like insecurity in job, effect on motivation which in turn will affect customer service. And that's what happened in British Airways.

Instead of hard approach he would have used a soft approach like Transformational leadership focuses instead on the development of commitment and motivation among followers the creation of a vision is paramount as is getting employees to buy in to this vision in order to transform the performance of the organisation (Porter K. et al, 2006).

Leadership qualities

According to Woot P.D. (1992 cited by Holbeche L., 1998) there are two main ingredients to leadership.

a) Their ability to articulate a vision - of the best future for their worker.

b) Their ability to communicate.

According to Band D. (1993 cited by Holbeche L., 1998), director of the Advanced Business programme at New Zealand's University of Otago suggests that smart leader have three main strengths.

a) Their ability to recognize the needs of current and prospective customers.

b) Their ability to communicate those customer needs to staff and colleagues.

c) The foresight towards how development of the employees adds values to the company's owner.

Bob Ayling had a vision but in favour of company. He was totally concern about the profitability of the company and all his strategies were in favour of the company he ignored the employees and their benefits completely. He was concern about customer service but his ignorance towards employees leads to poor customer service. Communication is the one of the important quality of a leader. But in case of Bob Ayling he didn't communicated with the employees and the management regarding the why the change is needed in the company at the time when company was doing good.

What Leadership is not?

Leader should not break the respect for the person's formulation of the categorical imperative. Leaders should not see their follower as a means to achieve the goals. However many leaders do see their follower as a means to their own ends but this should not count against them as why they behave in that way. There are many reasons in business environment which force leaders use their follower as a means to their end. In the finance capitalism or public held firms' leaders are under great pressure to increase the value of the firm, increase the stock price or shareholders funds. With such pressure on the managers, it is hard to avoid using the employees or follower as a means for the end of the owner (Bowie N., 2000).

These reasons dose not provide a reasonable basis for using the employees as a means to stockholders profit. If company will not pay attention towards or forgo the interest of the


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