THE INTERVIEW OF LEADERSHIP 14
TheInterview of Leadership
Background information of the leader
Theinterviewee name is Eric Zhang the founder and the general manager ofCaihongCorporation Limited which is based in Shandong province in China.Eric Zhang manages a manufacturing and export business that dealswith IVD products. Eric Zhang manages a workforce of between 200 and500 for permanent and part-time workers. Due to the nature of thebusiness (manufacturing and exporting) Mr. Eric devotes most of histime in international trips. Dr. Zhang was born in China-Shandognprovince and attended his undergraduate studies at Shanghai StateUniversity before proceeding to train at SanFranciscoStateUniversity.In his entire school life, Dr. Zhang had passion for entrepreneurshipand never wasted his time as students do today. In fact, Dr. Zhangstarted his business while in his undergraduate studies in Shanghai.Upon getting scholarship to study at San FranciscoStateUniversity,Dr. Zhang exploited the opportunity and created business ties withother American entrepreneurs and scholars in IVD products.
Zhangis a specialist engineer in IVD productsand excellent manager who has guided his infant manufacturingbusiness from a one roomed venture to a multibillion manufacture andexporting business.I share significant similarity with Dr. Zhang because I was broughtup in China but came to the States for further studies as aninternational student. Besides, I also harbor entrepreneurshipambitions but I have been nervous since I fear that lack of essentialknowledge on organization management and leadership might lead tounsuccessful venture. As such, I see this interview with Dr. Zhang asan opportunity to learn a great deal about leadership and managementfor successful business. In the same way is an international student,just as Dr. Zhang was and thus I opted to interview him so that I canlearn from his inspiring story on leadership and business management.I feel that his education, experience in business management andinternational exposure presents me with an opportunity to learnvarious positive aspects that will guide me in my business venture infuture.
Leader’s leadership philosophy
Thispart helped widen my knowledge about Zhang and his approach inmanaging a successful business. In his words, Dr. Zhang believes thatas an entrepreneur and business manager one needs to be anadventurer, risk taker and rule breaker. Zhang leadership philosophyis that employees form the basis under which the success or failureof a business is pegged. Zhang believes that a good leader is one whotreats his/her employees well in anticipation that they treatcustomers well and when customers are happy it means good returns forthe investor(Dutton, 2003).To this end, Dr. Zhang is a believer that employees are the cogs thatrun organizations so put employees’ interest first, customerssecond and investors’ interest last. In this way, all stakeholderswill be satisfied in a mutual interdependent way.
Agood leader is one who sees ahead, anticipates changes and hassolutions before changes occur. Dr. Zhang believes that there isnothing complex about leadership it is all about taking the simplethings within the organization seriously. Zhang says that he believesin working happily for better lives. In addition, Zhang believe thatthere are no formal rules in managing organization but justunderstanding employees and assisting them accomplish organizationgoals. Zhang believes that as a leader, one should build a culture ofparticipation, inclusion and fun (Dutton,2003).Leaders should communicate share and model organization visions andexpected goals with employees.
Gallos(2008) asserts that good leaders should communicate and ensure thatall employees understand the organization’s vision (pg.378, para. 1). Organization leaders fail in marshalling all employees towardsorganization goals since they view employees as inexperienced or‘useless.’ It is by aligning organization goals with employeegoals or interests that an organization is able to achieve itsobjectives as well as overcome challenges. As Zhang explains this, heexhibited that enthusiasm, high energy, charming and outspokenpersonality. In addition, Zhang believes that since we live in adynamic world, good leaders should anticipate changes and makeappropriate decisions. Everyday decisions should be aligned inanticipation for changes. These tenets from Zhang collaborate withwhat Gallos (2008) says about changes good leaders should envisionchanges and be ready to cope with such changes (pg 199, para. 1).
Influences on Dr. Zhang leadership practice
Zhangbelieves that his personality especially charisma helps him connectwith people easily even when they are strangers. I noticed thisaspect during the interview and I was surprised to see that Zhang waswell composed, exhibit that inspiring enthusiastic, attentive andoutspoken attitude. In this interactive approach, Zhang is able toinspire, empower and influence others in implementing his decision.Zhang stated that he has empowered his employees to run his businessthe same way they would run their business. Unlike other managersthat use rules, coercion and rewards, Zhang says that he onlymotivate his employees in performing their tasks. These aspectsrelate to Gallos (2008) ideas in Chapter three on exemplaryleadership practices.
InChapter three (p. 41, para.3), Gallos explains that good leaders arenot like mangers who use force, rather, leaders create visions,share, inspire, model and enable others implement the vision. Zhangassuages that being your own and acting in authentic way is animportant influence of good leadership. Gallos (2008) support Zhang’ssentiments by asserting that authenticity is the key in influencingorganizations in the right direction. In Chapter eight (p. 138. para.2), Gallos argues that leadership is all about ‘being the personyou want to be.’ Zhang further added that the most influence inhis leadership is his ideas and own desire to see that his businesssucceeds (Dutton, 2003).
Leadershipis not style but having a genuine heart to lead others in pursuit ofa course desire. Authentic leaders are not born that way butincorporate authentic values as they overcome enduring relationshipwith others (Gallos 2008, p. 139. Para 2). Zhang further added thathaving a purpose and vision helps in influencing others to adjust andfollow the desired direction in the achievement of organizationgoals. In this case, Zhang states that he shares with his employeeshis ideas, thoughts and values as part of influencing them achieveorganization goals. Zhang added that he deals with technology Geeksin his firm and these individuals have high technological insightswhich Zhang taps through engaging employees as partners in hisbusiness (Dutton, 2003). Gallos (2008, page 311, para. 1) on leadinggeeks, supports Zhang sentiments on engaging employees and arguesthat all employees are important assets in organization and goodleaders should enlist their ideas and thoughtsbefore implementingcertain decision.
Zhang’sphilosophy is putting the employees first in the management of hisbusiness and this helps to enlist their support and facilitatecommunication of important ideas. Zhang told me that he holds regularmeetings that serve as team building sessions in which Zhangencourages employees to act innovate and do their best in theirtasks. In this way, Zhang states that his employees have developedindependent and collaborative attitude in solving business challengeseven when he is away. Zhang believes that by engaging his employeesand encouraging them, he will enhance their effectiveness. Gallos(2008, p. 284, para 3) support Zhang’s observation by suggestingthat ‘“When people are trusted and have more discretion, moreauthority, and more information, they’re much more likely to usetheir energies to produce extraordinary results.”
Employeesexploit their full potential when they are given freedom to actindependently of as team without strict supervision. Zhang told methat each employee is held accountable for decision and actions takenin their line of duty. Each employee has a direct line to contact himany time on any issue and this helps avoid the bureaucratic red tapethat ruins organization management (Mann,2011).By keeping the line open, Zhang helps his employees feel inspired andsupported in undertaking important organization decisions. In short,Zhang main influences in leadership is inspiring, motivating, beenauthentic and getting the workforce to embrace the business vision toachieve desired goals (Dutton, 2003).
Effective methods or approaches
Zhangstates that there are different kinds of leaders transformationaland transactional leaders. However, all leaders are agents of changedbut their approach in influencing employees implement changes varies.Zhang says that he believes he is a transformational leader he is anagent of change and assists his employees in their work. As agents ofchange, Zhang creates models and communicates the expected vision tohis team so that when he is away the team carries on with work.Gallos (2008, p. 37. para. 3) makes attempt to elucidate on whatmakes effective leadership.
Accordingto the text, leaders are transformational leaders if they can inspiretheir followers in achieving the established corporate visions(Dutton & Heaphy, 2003). In this case, one can argue thattransformational leaders are unlike the ‘transactional leaders’who rely on punishment and rewards to get things done in theirbusiness. In order to explain more about his influence on leadership,Zhang offered insightful assessment of types of leaders. According toZhang, transactional leaders such as managers’ helps organizationsimprove their efficiency but transformational leaders’ guides theorganization in taking important courses of action.
Gallos(2008, para. 3) states that it is through transformational leadersthat organizations are able to align with their environment and adaptto changes when necessary. Transformational leaders motivate theirfollowers through behaviors while charismatic leaders influence theirfollowers through referent power. Charismatic leadership is neithergood nor bad and is not effective in managing organization affairs. Charismatic leaders become self-centered and may not pursue commongood. Unlike transformational leaders to motivate their followers tobecome independent the charismatic leaders tend to produce dependentfollowers. In this case, as a leader Zhang believes in setting goalsfor his employees and leaving them to implement them. Zhang told methat he trusts that his employees even when he is far.
Accordingto Zhang, his vision is to model and communicate to employees how toachieve the expected goals. Leading means was at the fore in‘modeling’ how things can be done rather than issuing commands.Zhang stated that an important approach in leadership is knowing whatresults are desired and k owing what is required to support andimplement the ideas. Only on rare occasions does Dr. Zhang superviseor monitor his employees. I challenged Zhang explain how he managesconflicts and enhance a collaborative spirit among his employees evenwhen he is way.
Zhangtold me that he has trained his employees on how to manage conflictsamong them, with customers and other stakeholders. In this case,Zhang applies strategies of conflict management discussed by Gallos(2008, p.434, para. 1) which suggests that ‘conflicts are wellmanaged when parties are equipped manage it by themselves’ Zhangargues that as a leader, knowing that conflicts are inevitable in thework place helps one to build, trust, teamwork and mutual relations.Importantly, Zhang told me that he has learned that every personrequires skills in emotion intelligence and he has facilitatednumerous sessions for his employees. Emotional intelligence is animportunate aspect that is discussed by Gallos (2008, p. 53. Para.2).
Gallosstates that great business leaders ignite and inspire employees inaccomplishing the desired goals through mobilizing teams to action.Gallos (2008, p. 53, line 4) suggests that good leaders should haveeffective ways of enabling employees understand and manage otheremployees emotions. This is one leadership approach that Zhang hasused to enhance the smooth running of business operations even whenhe is away on business trips. Gallos (2008, p. 197, para. 1)elucidates on ‘enabling others to act’ and this ties to Zhang’sleadership approach.
Leader’s reflections on his own leadership development
Zhangreflected that when he started his business while in college, he hadlittle knowledge and practice in business management. However, hispersonality charisma, interactive and inquisitive nature enabledZhang connect with people easily. Zhang told me that he was inspiredby his father who was manager in a Shanghai Steel industry. Accordingto Zhang he had firsthand experience on how running a big businessventure could be hectic. In part, Zhang told me that his father wasalways erratic and could shout commands to un-cooperating service menin the kiln. Zhang told me that he too felt frustrated because, noneof the workers in the industry appeared to have good relations withZhang’s father.
Oneaspect that Zhang learned is that employees’ relation with mangersor business leaders is essential for the success of an organization.To this, Zhang learned that if he were in his father’s position, hewould try to create good relations with workers to avoid emotionalstress. Later on, when Zhang ventured in his business while inschool, he faced similar predicament especially to non-cooperatingstaffs. One thing that Zhang learned is that leadership andmanagement has no formal rules. Gallos (2008, p. 52. para. 6)discuses that emotional intelligence is critical while in leadershipposition.
Accordingto Zhang, one has to embrace positive enthusiasm, exhibit positivemood and project inspire even when faced with hostility andantagonism (Gallos, 2008. P.53, para 6). It is through leader’smood that employees reciprocate their emotions, attitude andbehaviors. Another aspect that Dr. Zhang learned in his leadership isthat communication is essential in sharing ideas, lessening tensionsand enhancing teamwork. Gallos (2008. P. 464, para 2) argues thatlack of effective communication leads to cynism, disbelief and lackof commitment to organization goals (Dutton, 2003).
Communicationis the fabric that holds all organization tasks, departments andgoals together in a networked framework. No change can be achievedwithout effective communication at work. Zhang also added that goodleaders should be effective in ‘learning’ their employeesfeelings and moods in order to avoid discontent at work place. Zhangavoids this through regular communication to individual employee andthis in turn makes employees feel recognized and appreciated. Gallo(2008. P. 61, para. 1), talks about ‘emotional hijacking’ in thecontext of enhancing interaction between the manager and employees.When mangers talks to employees, they can ‘hijack’ negativeemotions from employees and thus help in averting silent rebellion.
AsZhang learned to interact and communicate effectively with hisemployees, he discovered that it was easy to inspire and influenceemployees accomplish their tasks with minimal supervision. Inaddition to good communication, encouragement and assisting employeescomplete their assignments Zhang also makes sure that all theintrinsic and extrinsic needs are met. Zhang argues that even if onecommands great influence on employees, if individual needs andinterests are not met, employees may feel discontent. Gallo (2008, p.242. para. 1) captures this aspect and argues that successful leadersare those who enhance a ‘robust human system.’
Employeesfeel empowered when they are integrated in the corporate decisionmaking. This is one aspect that Zhang introduced in his firm.Initially, Zhang was worried that his staffs cannot be trusted but heled the way by delegating responsibilities to make decision in theirown departments. Lastly, Zhang reflects that another aspect that hashelped him is the power of teamwork. Good leadership is pegged onability to enhance a mutual and cordial collaborative spirit amongstaffs (Dutton & Heaphy, 2003). Teamwork helps in overcomingobstacles Gallos (2008, p. 378, para. 3) “Successful motivationensures that they will have the energy to overcome obstacles.”
My reflections on how the interview affected my own view of leadership
Theinterview with Dr. Zhang helped in widening my understanding onbusiness leadership. In part, Dr. Zhang helped me learn thattheoretical aspects of leadership are not as easy when it comes toimplementation. However, I learned that leadership is a sacrifice anddecision to relate, inspire and encourage others in accomplishing agiven task. My perception of leadership was largely unclear and Iviewed leadership from the perspective of management (issuing ordersand instructions to compel others do something). However, there aresignificant differences between leadership and management as theyunfolded in my mind. One is that leadership demands that one be hisown self leadership has no style and it is not about personality butpractice (Gallo 2008, p 69. para. 1).
Inmy opinion good leadership comes as a result of practice, patient andsacrifice. Importantly, the interview allowed me to reflect andunderstand the course text in practical way. Through Dr. Zhang I havelearned that leadership is been an agent of change by creating avision, communicating the vision. Modeling the vision and inspiringothers to embrace the vision and work towards it(Mann, 2011).Leaders should enable others to act and not through compelling orcoercion but through motivation. The interview has also enlightenedme on the need for ‘emotional intelligence’ among leaders inorder to enhance mutual relations among workers. Emotionalintelligence is one aspect that influenced me greatly.
Previously,I thought that as a business leader I should not ‘be easy’ or‘show enthusiasm’ to staffs but adorn a ‘tough face’(Ghoshal, 2005). However, the interview and the course leading havechanged this perception through learning about the essence and effectof ‘swinging moods’ on employees work performance. The interviewwith Zhang also changed my view on empowering staffs to makedecisions for the firm (Dutton & Heaphy, 2003). Lastly, the wholeinterview made me realize that leadership is all about having mutualrelationship with others not only in workplace but also in thegeneral society (Gallo, 2008). I feel that through the interview ammore informed on leadership and I feel motivated to venture in mybusiness to apply the learned leadership skills and knowledge.
What elements do you think are the most important for being a leader?
In your opinion, what is leader’s responsibility?
How does your understanding of leadership influence you? Please describe.
What difficulties had you met when you as a leader? How did the difficulties influence you? Please describe.
Do you have a goal? How do you think about setting a goal?
How do you think about motivate and empower?
Do you think leaders should intervene in the work of employees? Why?
Do you think you have been improved or developed in leadership? Please describe.
How do you think about yourself since you became a leader? Such as changes, opinions, etc. Please describe.
Can you give some methods to make the leadership become more effective?
TheLeader’s Contact Information
Eric Zhang    86-536-2322148
Position:General ManagerCompany    CAIHONG CORPORATIONLIMITEDWork Time:      08:00-17:00 (BeijingTime)Telephone:       86-536-2322148(Working Time)        86-536-18653668197(Nonworking Time)Fax: 86-536-2866096CompanyLocation: NO.336, YONGAN ROAD, GAOMI CITY, SHANDOGN RPOVINCE,CHINAEmployee Number: 200-500Business Type: Manufacturer, ExporterBrands:CAIHONGWebsite: http://www.caihong-med.comContactPerson: Eric ZhangMsn:   [email protected]Skype: eric012983
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GallosJoan V. (2008). BusinessLeadership.(Second Edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. E-book. Accessed fromwww.josseybass.com
Ghoshal,S. (2005). Badmanagement theories are destroying good management practices.Academyof Management Learning &Education,4: 75–91.
MannS. (2011). “Unleashing your leadership potential: seven strategiesfor success leadership and organization development.” Vol. 32, Iss.8. P. 855-56.