Case study: Leadership characteristics and skills of Norman Brinker


Case One

  1. Identify characteristics that are present to reflect is Norman Brinker a manager? A leader?

Leader is the one that is more concerned with doing the right thing and manager is the one that is more concerned with doing things right. Leaders inspire and develop others, challenge the status quo, ask what and why questions, and are more apt to take a long term-view. Managers administer programs, control budget and costs, maintain the status quo, and are more likely to take a short-term view. So we can see that leadership involves changing the way things are, whereas management involves maintaining the current state of affairs.

Characteristics: the first one is creativity and innovation. Brinker is the man who is fond of meeting changes and challenges. For instance in the late 1950, he acted as a partner in the Jack-in –the- Box. While he didn’t satisfied with just being a partner with others, he developed Steak and Ale in 1996. And due to the characteristic of creativity and innovation, he has always been seeking out challenges and changes, such as the selling the Steak and Ale, building the Brinker International and so on. So we can see change was a way for him to be innovative and creative.

The second one is the characteristics of motivation, inspiration and maintenance. For example, his leadership philosophy is “winners attract winners”. And he often uses his philosophy to influence his followers and peers to reach shared goals and develop a fantastic working culture of driven by integrity, team work, passion, and an unwavering commitment to making sure each and every guest has an enjoyable dinning experience to maintain and control the well function of Brinker International. Undoubtedly, he is a successful team builder.

The third one is flexibility. Banker owns the ability to adapt to needs of followers and requirements of situations. For instance, he developed Brinker International as casual dinning restaurant company, which shows his flexibility to adapt to the customers’ needs and also via culture building to maintain the excellent service and excellent food.

The fourth one is the cognitive ability. Banker is smart and intelligent. And he can use his own ability and experience to develop and integrate his business. For instance, based on integrating his experience and competence, Brinker international now owns, operates, or franchises more than 1,100 units in forty-seven states and twenty nations.

The fifth one is self confidence. As the case mentioned, Brinker clearly has confidence in himself. Due to his confidence trait, he attracts lots of followers and successfully led several companies in highly competitive industry in which many failures occur.

The six one is long term view. Just from the successor choosing we can see this characteristic. As he described, McDougall is one of the strongest, most visionary individuals who is a born leader, and adept team builder and the best strategist in the business. Such kind of choice can help Brinker International maintain its success and has long term profit, because the leadership is one of the key points for the success of business. From this we can see Brinker is really visionary.

The last one is the fantastic knowledge of the business. Just from the case we can see Brinker is full of experience in the restaurant industry, such as the partnership with Jack-in –the- Box in the late 1950s, being a vice president for Pillsbury and so on. And all of these experiences become one crucial factors of his success.

Brinker not only has the competence of development, innovation, inspiration and long term view as a leader but also has the characteristics of managers such as the ability of maintenance, control and so on. And especially, the characteristics of fantastic knowledge of the business as well as self confidence are the important essences for both leaders and managers. So based on the above characteristics of Brinker, we can conclude that Brinker is a successful leader as well as a manager.

  1. What are the characteristics of followership at Brinker International?

On the basis of the case, we can see the employees at Brinker International are the followers of Brinker. And due to the gorgeous success of Brinker International, we can conclude the followership at Brinker International is very effective. And it has the following characteristics.

The first one is cohesion and taking personal responsibility for team performance. Just as the case mentioned, we can see the followers in Brinker International have strong teamwork mind and collaborate with each other’s work to offer the excellent service for customers.

The second one is intentionality, supporting top leadership as well as priorities that are aligned with the leader. The followers are following and support Brinker’s philosophy of “Winners attract winners”. They want to do better and become better.

The third one is self confident as well as passionate. As the case mentioned the followers at Brinker International have strong passion to become better and believe themselves can achievement it.

The fourth one is integrity, which is the cultural essence of Brinker International.

The fifth one is loyalty and faithfulness. The success of Brinker International only owes to the excellent leadership but also due to the loyalty and faithfulness of these followers. Without the strong believe and faithfulness to Brinker, it is not easy for Brinker International to become so successful.

He fifth one is visionary. not all

  1. Identify skills that you would personally need to develop to become a leader like Norman Brinker? What could you do to develop or refine those skills?

Brinker :

Creativity and innovation: from the case we know that Brinker is full of innovation and creativity. To develop this kind of skill, I have to see things in new ways. One way to see things differently is to think in terms of analogies. Another way is to try putting an idea or problem into a picture rather than into words. Some time, feelings pr relationships that have elude verbal description many come pout in a drawing, bring fresh insights to an issue. And the brainstorming is a nice way to enhance the creativity and innovation. For example, when encounter a problem, the common way is to think how to solve it. And in order to enhance the creativity, we can first analyze the causes or the problems and the outcomes, which may inspirit us to have more proper solution to the problems.

Setting goals: just as Brinker does in Brinker International, he develops a strong working culture to set the shared goals, it is also necessary for me to . Implementation: At first, goals should be specific and observable. For example, it is better to set a goal of improving the next quarters’ sale figures than just improving sales. Secondly, goals should be attainable but challenging. For example, a track team is not likely to win every race, but it may be realistic to aim to win the league champion. And meanwhile, setting easy goals doesn’t result in high level of performance, so goals need to be challenging but attainable to get the best out of oneself and others. And thirdly, goals also require feed back. One of the most effective ways to improve any kind of performances is to provide feedback about how closely a person’s behavior matches some criterion, and research show that performance was much higher when goals were accompanied by feedback than when either goals or feedback were used alone.

Learning from experience: The first way is keeping a journal to mine experiences for the richness and preserve the learning. It can help us to reread earlier events and offering some useful experience to solve the present problems. The second way is learning from others, such as asking questions and pay attention to everyday situations. Sometimes, the peers can give us proper and useful advice due to their past experiences.

Teambuilding: When do teambuilding, it is important to considerate these aspects such as mission, talent, norms, morale, results and so on. At first, when building a new team, the first thing a leader must do is to clarify the team’s purpose and goals, set team performance standards, and ensure individual team member goals are aligned with the team’s goals. Secondly, selecting the right kind of people and continuously developing those skills needed to achieve team goals are very important in teambuilding. Thirdly, once team members are selected and have a clear understanding of the team’s purpose and goals, leaders then need to address the norms. Norms are the rules that govern how teams make decisions, conduct meeting, get work done, hold team members accountable for results, and share information. Fourthly, just because individual team members understand what the team is trying to accomplish, are committed to achieving team objective, and understand the rules by which the team gets work done does not necessarily mean team members will all get along with each other. And teams that report high levels of morale tend to effectively deal with interpersonal conflict and have high level of morale and cohesion. At last, the result can help team learn from their shortage and improve team performance.

  1. Lesson that you learn from this case? Justify.

Firstly, as an outstanding leader one must have the following characteristics or skills.

Successor plan:

Working culture

Effective leader is significant

Following his example of business strategies is to be implemented in my own endeavors. His enthusiasm is motivational in the sense that he imparts the goal oriented missions one can aspire to if they apply their self, as he did. To reach out to a larger group of people would open up more opportunities. Communication and engaging with a more diverse group of people would open up the door more opportunities to become more effective in gaining follower-ship.
Sharing a larger goal and vision is essential to becoming a global leader like Norman Brinker. Diversity is the first step in leadership possibilities. Diversity would open up the door to inspire more people ion a global scale. According to Channing L. Bete Co., Inc. Leadership/Skill, What is Leadership? at the web site at, “Inspiring and helping people to work toward goal.”( To inspire others to active a shared vision and to do it with passion is to impart a goal of value to which others will be enriched by and hopefully continue to share with others.

Effective quality leadership skills could be enhanced by taking different steps and exploring my visions. Identifying ones goals and the steps and direction to accomplish it is a crucial element.. Understanding of ones visions and the understanding of the tools necessary to carry out the mission is the first step in this direction. A sense of clear direction and design is important in this stage as it is a map to the direction of honing ones leadership skills. This is an evaluation process and leadership assessment

Leadership is inspirational and continual honing is to be open to a higher level of leadership achievement.

The most important leadership lesson in this case is to be a motivated and committed leader for success.

  1. Identify and discuss one of the leadership theories to reflect this case.

According to the case, that the leadership style of Brinker is fit for the charismatic leadership style of influence based types of leadership. The charismatic leader is one who creates an atmosphere of motivation based on an emotional commitment to and identity with his or her vision, philosophy, and style on the part of followers.

And Brinker is obviously an outstanding charismatic leaders.

Firstly, let analyze the relation to status quo of Brinker. Just as the case mentioned, he essentially opposed to status quo and was creative and welcomed change.

Future goal :

He idealized vision highly different than status quo. He exhibited in getting the got the “bottom line” accomplished, and then proceeding to take the restaurants to a higher level is excellent skills in action. For example, he had high expectation that allowed him to bring customer service and satisfaction to a higher standard.


The shared perspective and idealized vision make him a likable and honorable hero worthy of identification and imitation. For example, his thoughtful attention to the people for satisfying relationships leads to a comfortable, friendly, organization atmosphere and work tempo and his philosophy of Winners attract winners” attracted people who were positive and wanted to be successful. He is obvious the role mode of his followers.

Expertise and Environmental sensitivity: He adapted to change and continued to grow and took the organization to an entire different level. And meanwhile he was in a sense and still is inspirational in his endeavors with the company in his contributions in mentoring and listening to customers at other places of businesses to make Brinker International function well.

Articulation: Norman Brinker was steadfast and non-wavering in his values and ideals he perceived in his goals and visions of the place he strove to be at in his level of business success such as the working culture that driven by integrity, team work, passion, and an unwavering commitment to making sure each and every guest has an enjoyable dinning experience.

Power base

The leadership abilities of Norman Brinker such as creativity and innovationflexibilitycognitive ability , fantastic knowledge of the business and so on attracted goal oriented people who were committed to achieving the standards of above the board performance.

Leader-follower relationship

On-going change enabled Norman Brinker to be creative and to lead others to the plane of success which he envisioned for his organization

He attracted successful people or people who wanted to be successful. The follower-ship he had was motivated and dedicated individuals who sought to make a difference. They chose to stand out and to “shine”. His follower-ship was inspired in his business strategies and goals.

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