The Home Depot is one of the most renowned and successful home improvement retailer companies in North America. It was founded in 1978 by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank (The Home Depot, n.d.). The company’s initial success, which led to fast expansion across the U.S., is explained by two innovative ideas, namely one-stop shopping and do-it-yourself. As for the former, The Home Depot was the first business to offer a wide variety of home improvement tools and appliances in one store (Marcus et al., 2019). As for the latter, do-it-yourself allowed many customers to be directly involved in the home improvement process (Marcus et al., 2019). Nevertheless, the founders argue that because previously mentioned ideas could be – and were – easily copied by the competitors, the company’s biggest competitive advantage is its values (Marcus et al., 2019). Among them, the central one is prioritizing people – customers and workers – over everything else.
Nowadays, Home Depot continues the traditions previously set by the company’s founders. As such, the principle of the so-called inverted pyramid that postulates the importance of customers and frontline managers over top managers and CEOs still serves as the business’s compass in its operations (The Home Depot, n.d.). Additionally, the company conducts DIY (do-it-yourself) workshops for men, women, and kids (Corbett, 2020). However, what is more impressive, is that Home Depot could preserve the company’s spirit in its managers. In this regard, the current paper intends to show that organizational managers’ leadership philosophy and behaviors align with Home Depot’s values. As an example, the views of George – the sales manager – and Craig Menear – Home Depot’s ex-CEO and chair of the board, will be analyzed.
The purpose of any company represents the reasons why the entity exists in the market and guides the business’s strategies and actions. In this regard, The Home Depot’s goal is to provide the best service possible and offer a wide variety of products at competitively low prices (Alshameri & Green, 2020). This purpose is realized in practice through appropriate strategy development and organizational structure. The best example of the former is the One Home Depot strategy launched in 2017 (Danziger, 2020). At its core, the company seeks to interconnect the store and online experiences so that the transition between them would become as seamless as possible. However, besides that, The Home Depot also offers numerous training opportunities for its employees, which is believed to be a cornerstone of better customer service (Danziger, 2020). Moreover, under the One Home Depot strategy, the organization constantly improves its supply chain to reduce product delivery time, seeks product innovation, and creates a better ecosystem for professionals.
The organizational structure also supports the achievement of the company’s purpose mainly due to the inverted pyramid philosophy. In this respect, The Home Depot’s founders notice, “We value what the salesperson in the store floor says just as much – sometimes more – than what a district manager says” (Marcus et al., 2019, p. 104). Such a management practice is useful as it helps the decision-makers to be constantly aware of the customer’s and worker’s demands to address them in an efficient and timely manner. Indeed, as a frontline salesperson, for instance, has a direct experience with customers, it is reasonable to assume that she or he may have additional insights concerning the necessary improvements to those of top-level managers. Consequently, the ability to combine and balance the expertise and experience of people from various levels of the organization is what helps to ensure the company’s leading position in the market.
The Two Manager’s Leadership Philosophies
George – a sales manager in the store that I work in – combines democratic and authoritarian leadership styles. On the one hand, George admits that although the company values employees’ opinions and expertise, many decisions are made by the top managers and supervisors. It implies that George cannot discuss any aspects of the work with his subordinates but instead should be able to ensure unconditional submission to the supervisor’s orders. On the other hand, George discusses other aspects of the work – that are not directly regulated by the higher management levels – with his employees. In this respect, he mentions, “I think it is important that my subordinates are involved in the decision-making process… [as] it greatly affects their motivation and engagement with the work.” Therefore, it can be concluded that George’s leadership philosophy leans towards democratic leadership. However, due to his position in the organization and lack of influence on the company design, he should combine this style with authoritarian leadership.
The previous research provides evidence that the evaluation of George’s leadership styles is correct. For instance, Chukwusa (2019) mentions that democratic leaders seek to involve their followers in the decision-making and problem-solution process – the behavior that George also exhibits. On the contrary, the manager sometimes uses the power of his position to impose decisions with or without the subordinates’ consent, which coincides with authoritarian rule (Bodla et al., 2019). However, it is necessary to mention that such a style may be more efficient during the right circumstances (Stobierski, 2019). Indeed, authoritarian rule is advantageous when decisions should be delivered fast. Therefore, although this style contradicts the company’s philosophy of an inverted pyramid, it still has its merits, without which The Home Depot’s performance would be worse.
In contrast with George, Craig Menear exhibits the traits of a transformational leader. The ex-CEO claims that the main leadership principles that guide him are prioritizing the customer and introducing innovations (Parker, 2018). This approach fully corresponds with the organization’s design. Therefore, although Menear, as ex-CEO and chair of the board, can affect the company’s structure, there is no need for this due to the existing alignment between the leaders and the company’s philosophies. Nevertheless, the huge job of the manager is to ensure that all the workers believe in his and their organizational values. In this vein, Kotamena et al. (2020) argue that the transformational leader “increases the awareness of organizational members of the need to achieve common goals” (p. 37). Therefore, the main tools that such a manager uses are inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and personal judgment (Kotamena et al., 2020). The success of Craig Menear in this direction is evident due to numerous innovations that appeared during his time as CEO and quite strong corporate culture.
Overall, the current paper analyzed the leadership styles of two managers in The Home Depot, namely George and Craig Menear, and their alignment with corporate purposes and culture. The results revealed that the former manager’s views only partly correspond to his behavior due to the organizational limits, whereas the latter – fully align with personal convictions. In George’s case, such a mismatch of personal values and corporate rules may lead to distress (Fawcett & Mullan, 2018). Therefore, the organization’s top managers must develop methods that would help the frontline administrators to understand the importance of combining various leadership styles.
The Home Depot. (n.d.). Built from all the right materials.
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