Boeing Industries: Management and Leadership
Boeing Industries was ranked Number 36 in May, 2011 in the Fortune 500 rankings for businesses. Boeing has become a global giant and it is the biggest aerospace company worldwide. Boeing’s two biggest rivals are Airbus and Lockheed Martin. Airbus holds the Number 1 place for making large commercial jets while Boeing is Number 2. Lockheed Martin is the Number 1 defense contractor and Boeing is Number 2. The reported number of employees in 2011 was 171,700. The reported number of executives was three hundred and seventy nine. (Hoovers.com, para. 1-3)
The public releases from Boeing media most often describe new employees’ leadership capabilities as being part of a very accomplished and experienced skill set. Experience in ‘technology leadership’ and an ability to embrace innovation are both important professional skills to Boeing. When describing management skills the adjectives used are more likely to be, the new employee has “strong management capabilities” and is very experienced with “program governance and project management, organization change management, and developing teams.” In other words an employee needs to be able to both lead a team and manage a team well to fit into the Boeing managerial culture. (Boeing.com, media)
Management and Leadership: Not the same thing
Differences between the duties of managers and leaders. Being able to manage people and groups of people is not the only necessary skill in terms of management. Because Boeing Industries is a global company there are teams and departments in different parts of the world who also need to be managed. Knowledge and information need to be managed, too. A good manager needs to be able to set priorities and filter out unimportant information.
A manager has to keep the paperwork for a project moving to the right places and get there at the right times. A manager is in charge of “planning, budgeting, evaluating and facilitating” (Maccoby, 2000, para. 11).
Maccoby (2000) makes some good points about what distinguishes managers from leaders: generally speaking managers perform a function but leaders develop relationships (para. 11).
Leadership skills are important for a manager to have but the skill set is different. Leadership skills can keep employees excited and energized about a project so they will work to reach goals and meet the deadline. A leader feels comfortable with change and can help his team adjust to changes with the least amount of anxiety as possible. Many people do not feel comfortable with change or new ideas. Some people even fear change and distrust innovations. A good leader has to be able to ‘go with the flow’ as a company sets new priorities and demands its employees to keep up with the newest technologies.
Maccoby (2000) explains the reasons people follow a leader in this way, “People follow a leader either out of fear or for a mix of positive reasons such as hope of success, trust in the leader, excitement about a project or mission, or the opportunity to stretch oneself to the limit” (para. 9). A good sports coach is a good leader because the coach chooses the right people for the job, gets them motivated and trained properly while all the time building trust. A manager needs those leadership qualities as well. A Boeing airplane engine cannot be built by only one person; teamwork and cooperation are essential. A transformational leader brings out the best in the team.
Company Management across Borders
Globalization requires another layer of management tasks because crossing borders means a different way of doing things. Technology is available in a manager’s office so he or she can reach anywhere in the world at any time of the day. That is useful but it can also be stressful. It adds more organizational complexities to the manager’s job. Different countries have different regulations. More and more international regulations must also be followed. Finding suppliers locally calls for sensitivity to the community and to the local way of doing business.
Integrating Total Quality Management (TQM) across borders offers many challenges. Not only finding the appropriate supplies and suppliers but dealing with new transportation means can be frustrating. The technology level may be very different across borders. Patience is a virtue in a manager but it can be one of the most difficult skills to keep under control.
People-to-people differences between cultures require a special set of leadership skills. For example foreign cultures have different attitudes towards training workers. The days may be divided up differently for breaks and mealtimes. Even how close a manager can stand next to an employee may be a very sensitive issue.
Good Managerial Strategies
Managers and leaders require two different skill sets even though they are combined in one person. A manager has to keep a project running smoothly and on time which requires a lot of paperwork and excellent organizational skills. They have to deal with suppliers to make sure that parts are available on the assembly line when they are needed. In a global company managers must learn about regulations that are different from country to country. There are often cultural differences that require a manger to change style when working ‘between’ countries. Somehow a manager has to find a way to balance the needs of the task-at-hand with the needs of the workers to make the whole project run smoothly and meet the targeted deadline. If a manager cares more about the project than the people working, or vice versa, then the project goals will be very hard to meet.
Leadership skills do not require being friends with everyone on the team, instead they require respecting the needs the workers have in order to get the project done on time. This could require reminding workers of incentives for making timely progress. One important characteristic I appreciate in a leader is the ability to face new challenges calmly and even with some excitement.
Boeing Industries has been at the top of the airplane industry for many years. Although it has slipped down to the number two position against competitors it still works to find excellent managers with the ability to keep several organizational processes running smoothly all at the same time. They also encourage their managers to use their best leadership skills to get the projects done. In the past ethical scandals clouded the horizon for Boeing (Hill, 2009, p. C35) but it took the necessary strategies to set higher priorities throughout the company to understand and comply to appropriate business ethics guidelines.
The ability of managers to target where changes need to be made and then make sure those changes are accomplished help make Boeing Industries a successful global company.
Aeroinfo. A Boeing Company. (2012 Febr. 22). AeroInfo Appoints Chief Technical Architect. News/Media. Retrieved from http://www.aeroinfo.com/corporate/news-media.aspx
American Society for Quality (ASQ). (n.d.) Global Quality. Asq.org
Hoovers. A D&B Company. (2012). The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL, USA. Retrieved from http://www.hoovers.com/company/The_Boeing_Company/rfttri-1.html
Maccoby, M. (2000). Understanding the difference between management and leadership. Research Technology Management. 43(1): 57-59. Retrieved from http://www.maccoby.com/Articles/UtDBMaL.shtml
Hill C. W. L. (2008). Case 2. Boeing Commercial Aircraft: Comeback? In Strategic Management: An Integrated Approach. C.W.L. Hill and G.R. Jones (Eds.) Masson, OH: Southwestern College Publishers. pp. C22-C23.
Gust, R., Barth, B. O’Donnell, J., Forsberg, D. and Chapman, R. (2008) Case 5. Boeing: Redefining strategies to manage the competitive market. Strategic management: competitiveness and globalization: Cases. M.A. Hitt, R. D. Ireland, & R. E. Hoskisson (Eds.) Masson, OH: Southwestrn College Publishers, pp. 49-54.
Shiver, J. (2010 Sept. 28) The Importance of visible leadership. Reliable Plant Blogs. Blogs. Retrieved from http:/www.eliableplant.com/