The Difference Between Management and Leadership Within Halliburton
Halliburton has, in its over 100 year history, grown into a massive player in the global oil industry, employing over 100,000 personnel in over 100 countries, giving the firm a true global reach (Halliburton, 2005). This level of achievement has not come without a price, however, as the firm has been exposed to have had dealings with nations that harbor terrorism, shady stock deals that extend all the way to the White House, and profiteering from the war in Iraq through government contracts (Briody, 2004).
The point being, for this organization, there is a vast difference between management and leadership. For Halliburton, management has had to move beyond the traditional roles of managers, which are discussed in a later section of this paper, but have also been charged with the important responsibility of keeping a healthy corporate culture in the midst of scandal and scrutiny from all directions.
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In its most basic sense, organizational culture is the personality of an organization, both from the viewpoint of how the employees see the organization and their role within in, and also how the outside world-stakeholders, shareholders, and casual observers- perceive the personality of the organization to be. Managers and leaders within Halliburton play roles in creating and maintaining a healthy organizational culture in several ways.
Managers and leaders need to keep lines of communication open, not only between their respective units within the structure of the company, but over the line between those who are in charge of the organization-leaders and managers-and those from all areas of the company. What this will do is create an atmosphere of trust between the leaders and those to be led, making it possible for more productive dialogue and results to happen. This will also contribute to the “buy in” of the rank and file to the cultural improvements that are being attempted within the firm.
Also, managers and leaders need to take into account the impact of what they are seeking to put into effect; while profitability and long term growth of the company must be essential priorities, those in charge must never forget that it is the mass of employees that do the daily tasks of operating the company that can make the company fail or move forward. If the personality of the company, so to speak, is one of aggression or something else unfavorable, this will surely have a poor affect on the employees, and their productivity, initiative and creativity will diminish measurably.
The bottom line is that those who are in charge of the company are those who in fact set the tone for the company in terms of what has been referred to as its personality, both in reality and in impression; for example, even if the leaders and managers make every effort possible to improve the corporate culture, if they themselves are seen to be undesirable, or their intentions less than genuine, then the effort will not be successful. On the other hand, if the leaders and managers are putting forth a positive corporate culture and the employees are not doing the same, failure will once again cause an unfavorable result.
Perception is a key consideration for all parties involved too; the best results must also be seen by the public as being effective, genuine and positive. How the Four Functions of Management Support the Creation and Maintenance of a Healthy Organizational Culture within Halliburton Earlier in this paper, it was stated that Halliburton’s management has had to make an exceptional effort to support the creation and maintenance of a healthy organizational culture. More specifically, the four functions of management support these efforts as follows:
• PLANNING- In the managerial function, those employed by Halliburton have had to plan for the health of the corporate culture from several different angles; as with any other organization, strategy and the carrying out of that strategy must be handled with the interests of the culture in mind. Additionally, because of the special situations and challenges faced by Halliburton, plans must also take into account the public reaction, as well as that of the shareholders and leaders because of the tense international situations in which the firm is engaged.
• ORGANIZING- Because of the fact that Halliburton is quite literally all over the world, organizing of management functions in regard to a healthy culture must take into account the cultural differences among international employees, and in the 21st century, the differences that may exist among different groups of people in the world. As was discussed in the previous portions of this paper, the culture, which is to say the personality of the organization, must be kept at the highest level-in reality, in planning for the future, and in the perception of what is being done.
These types of considerations are especially sensitive for an organization like Halliburton, which has suffered from negative press, public image, and the suggestion of scandal, backed up by evidence, for quite some time (Briody, 2004). Meaningful changes are highly important here for many reasons. • LEADING- Leadership, which is to say the carrying out of what management has put forth to be executed, needs to start at the top; as the old adage says, leadership from the top and leadership by example. It is very important for Halliburton to display the kind of leadership that goes far beyond routine and must also be of the highest ethics.
As the organization continues to mature, leadership changes, if any, must also be handled delicately; for example, those appointed to key positions in the company or on its board of directors must be selected not only based upon qualifications, but also upon how their reputation will impact the internal workings of the company and the public opinion of the company. • CONTROLLING- Mega-firms like Halliburton face quite a challenge in being able to control the direction that the corporate culture takes as the firm grows changes and matures.
Therefore, the control element of a healthy corporate culture entails several key elements. First, if the members of the organization are to support the cultural elements that are being put into place, they must feel comfortable with the implementations, which is to say that they must be made to understand what the changes specifically will be, why they are being put into place, and the benefits to them personally, professionally, and to the organization itself going forward.
Second, the input of the employees themselves is vital in order to be able to create something of lasting value that truly reflects the mindset and values of the culture of the organization. Lastly, for better or worse, Halliburton needs to keep public relations in mind when any action is taken, internally or externally, in the firm. Strategies that Organizational Managers and Leaders Can Use to Create and Maintain a Healthy Organizational Culture within Halliburton
For an organization as diverse, successful and controversial as Halliburton, there are many opportunities for the management to direct the leadership toward strategies that will not only allow Halliburton to be able to continue the innovation and forward thinking that has led to the successes they have enjoyed for nearly a century, but also for sorely needed enhancements to the firm’s damaged image in the public eye to take place.
While public perception may not be a major factor for a private company if it is still able to maintain profitability, as evidenced by the tobacco industry for example, a publicly traded company like Halliburton must pay attention to its public image if share value is to stay strong, and shareholders and stakeholders alike are to remain satisfied with where the organization is headed. Because of these considerations, there are some possible recommendations for the firm as they go forward:
To begin, Halliburton should make the best use of some of the internal measures they have implemented by bringing them into the public eye; for example, research indicates that Halliburton has recently established extensive ethics and shareholder relations regulations, both as a compliance with federal laws and also for a means of management regaining control of the image of the firm (Halliburton, 2005). This admirable step needs to be communicated to the general public in whatever means is found to be the most effective- be it advertising, online presence, or any other method of mass communications at their disposal.
Internally, this will also improve the corporate culture and environment, by restoring the faith of the employees in the company if it has been shaken by the scandals of late. Next, an internal audit of the state of the corporate culture should be driven by management, or by an outside third party if necessary, to gauge the opinions and attitudes of the employees. The results of this study should be used collaboratively by management and leadership to either make needed changes in the culture of the organization, or to use a benchmark to maintain if all of the results of the measurements do in fact turn out to be favorable.
From this point of view, changes of any level of intensity can be made based upon solid, documented data rather than mere theories or perceptions. Halliburton has little room to make errors going forward. Lastly, Halliburton could very successfully used its ability to adapt and innovate to enter into new markets that are of more humanitarian benefit to society at large, such as medical products, philanthropy, or something along similar lines.
Few would argue that the oil industry as a whole is viewed to be unsavory by the general population; therefore, it would benefit Halliburton to embark on something that is viewed by the public to be more favorable. Also, of course, the entering of new business ventures, if done properly, will lead to more opportunities for employees to advance and make best use of their talents, and once again for shareholder value to increase.
What can best be said about the previously mentioned tactics is that they all have the dual purpose of increasing profitability and public image, which is no small feat in the complex and often hostile managerial environment of the 21st century and beyond as the company and its requirements evolve. Conclusion Halliburton is a paradox in the business world- while suffering public criticism and mistrust, the firm still has the uncanny ability to keep the profits rolling in, year after year, and share value to steadily increase.
This is no accident or coincidence; rather, it is because of the talent of the management team, the skill of the leadership, and the two being able to work together for the betterment of the culture, environment, and performance of the company. Also, as has been shown, there are also a great deal of additional areas where Halliburton can reinvent itself in certain areas, increase its scope of business operations, and change the opinion of the public as to the real nature of the firm and what it represents.
In closing, perhaps the best information that can be taken away from looking at Halliburton’s example is that successful companies can change as needed, and also have the ability to use managerial talent and skilled leadership to come up with new ways to bring about cultural changes. Halliburton stands as an example of what to do- and not to do- in the business world. Only time will tell where Halliburton moves to in the future, and management has a true challenge ahead of it.
Briody, D. (2004). The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Halliburton Annual Report. Halliburton, International (2005).