Leadership analysis in movie “CEO”


1.0 Introduction 3

2.0 Synopsis of the movie 3

2.1 Storyline 3

2.2 Introduction of the leaders 4

2.3 Leader’s role 5

3.0 Incidents 6

3.1 Contexts of the incidents 6

3.2 Behavior and characteristics of the leader 8

3.2.1 Leader’s characteristics 8

3.2.2 Leader’s behavior 10

4.0 Leadership effectiveness 11

4.1 Behavior style of the leadership and the effectiveness 11

4.2 Capabilities as change agent and the effectiveness 12

4.2.1 Concept of the change agent 12

4.2.2 Capability as the change agent and its effectiveness 13

4.3 Effectiveness of leadership behavior 15

5.0 Decision making incidents 15

5.1 Executive summaries of two incidents 15

5.2 Analysis on leadership roles (leadership involvement and decision making)17

6.0 Incidents analysis 19

7.0 Conclusion 21

Reference 23


Figure 1.0 Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Theory………………………………11

1.0 Introduction

This essay is mainly about the leadership in the movie named CEO. It develops a discussion from five major aspects. The first aspect is the outline of this movie which briefly gives the synopsis of this movie and the leaders background. The second aspect is on several incidents referring to the leaders behavior and characteristics. The third aspect is mainly on the leadership effectiveness which on the two areas. One is leadership behaviors based on Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Theory. The other is on the effectiveness of leaders role as the change agent in the movie. The fourth one mainly concerns the decision making incidents which the leader involved in, from which the leaders role is disclosed. The last one is about recommendations which are necessary for the leader in this movie to further improve.

2.0 Synopsis of the movie

2.1 Storyline

The movie is named CEO, in which the main character is called Linmin who is the new director of Qingdao refrigerator factory of China, which is a collectively-owned factory facing bankrupt. To save the factor, Linmin decided to bring in one of the refrigerator production line from Liebherr Company in German. After brought in the production line, Linmin tried every means to train his staff to work professionally. With several years’ hard work, Haier refrigerator made by Qingdao refrigerator factory won the first golden metal of high quality products in the Chinese history of refrigerator making. Due to his sharp eyes, Linmin caught the supportive policy of Chinese central government for collective enterprise to carry out the diversification strategies and built the later famous Haier industrial park. At the year 1995, the Haier Industrial Park was completed and put into production. Linmin came up with the continuous development strategies to enhance the development pace of this factory.

At the same time Haier Group whose former name is Qingdao refrigerator factory also implemented a series of international expansion strategy oriented in European market. And then after the successful launch in European market, Haier group began to expand to American market via build its factory in America.

At the end of the movie, Linmin gave a speech to the Haier employees that it is the responsibility for all the Chinese people to work hard in order to realize the dream of revitalizing national industry.

2.2 Introduction of the leaders

In the movie, CEO, Linmin is the main role and also the leader of Haier Group, who got the MBA degree from the Science and Technology University of China in the year 1995 and holds the title of senior economist at the present. In the movie, Limning took the role as the director of the Qingdao Refrigerator Factory and successfully transformed the small and ailing factory with collective-system-base into a business giant in China with the fully support from his well built followership which becomes the major reason why choosing him as the target people in this essay.

2.3 Leader’s role

Leaders, like all individuals, can differ significantly in their personalities, attitudes, values, and thinking styles and in the book of ‘the leadership experience’ Daft (2008) presented three types leadership roles such as operational role, collaborative role and advisory role. Operational role is the closest to a traditional, vertically oriented management role, in which the leader control over the working staff and resources directly to achieve business goals. The collaborative role is more horizontal and includes people such as the project manager, matrix managers and team leaders in nowadays’ more horizontally organized firms. Leaders in the advisory role often offer guidance and support to the staff and departments in the organization.

Based on the above definition of the leadership roles, we can infer that the leadership role which Linmin plays in the movie is more like the operational role. For example, he set goals such as the diversification strategies and international expansion strategies, established plans such as the plan of building Haier industrial park to assist the expansion strategies, got things down primarily through the vertical hierarchy and properly used his position power to direct the well function of Haier group (Daft 2008).

Generally speaking, Linmin as a successful operation leader is typical analytical and knowledgeable, especially he owns the capacity to translate his knowledge and wisdom into the vision that has attracted a great many excellent followers to support him, such as the nimble and competent engineer Xiang Hua, intelligent sales executive Yang Yang with great courage and passion, the talented chief designer and other outstanding talents.

3.0 Incidents

3.1 Contexts of the incidents

There are so many incidents indicating Linmin’s leadership style, from which this essay will present two of them in the following.

One scenario is breaking the 76 refrigerators with quality problems. At that period, refrigerator was nearly the luxury goods for most of the Chinese customers, but Liming insisted to ask the direct responsible workers to break the 76 refrigerators with quality problems. When all the workers with tears in their eyes begged him to allow them to buy these refrigerators instead of breaking them, Linmin gave a shocked statement to these people that we are accustomed to sell the high quality products to the foreign counties but leaving these inferior quality products to ourselves, whether we are inferior to these foreign people? The high standard should begin with us via the strict requirements on ourselves. All of the working staff were shocked and moved by his statement and wielded the hammers to break the 76 refrigerators with quality problems. And after this, all of the workers in the refrigerator factory began to be strict with them so much and there were few quality problems existing in the products from then on.

The other scenario is the battle with AE Group, which is the biggest global appliance maker with headquarters in America. Faced with the trick that the AE Group was planning to hinder the expansion of Chinese products in American market via the way of anti-dumping, Ling was alert enough and realized it was important for Haier Group to speed up its pace of localization in order to gain more market share in the global market. Under such guidance, Linmin began to prepare for the new factory construction actively and finally chose the economy most developed country – South Carolina State of America as the first site of Hailer’s oversea factory even he received several counterviews from the subordinated at the beginning. And Linmin also presented his special opinion on the case of building oversea factory: the reason why we chose America as the first site for our oversea factory is because its most developed economy and technology which we can not only gain a considerable foreign currency income to uphold the future development of Haier Group but also learn the advanced technology to refuel our enterprise to have a better performance in the products quality.

Besides the above incidents, there is also another scenario worth mentioning. When one of his capable assistant- the translator was planning to leave, because he thought Haier Group had no future, Linmin gave him an inspiring statement that you may get a job with high-income by leaving our group, but you can’t gain the passion and a sense of achievement from starting business by ourselves. Such kind of persuasion finally made this talent decide to stay in Haier Group.

In addition, Linmin also successfully encouraged three of his promising subordinates to win their self confidence and achieve their success. For instance, when two of his designers were lack of confidence to design a large number of high quality refrigerators within a short period, he encouraged them, “You shouldn’t say I will try, you must say I can do it because you can”, which largely enhance the confidence of the two talented designers and helped them fulfill the task. And when the fresh employee, Yang Yang, doubted her capability to open up the oversea market for Haier Group, Linmin said, “ You must believe yourself because you have already receive half a year’s proper train from us.” And the later fact proved Linmin’s insight in picking his followers and persuasion power that Yang Yang successfully helped Haier Group expand into the European market.

3.2 Behavior and characteristics of the leader

3.2.1 Leader’s characteristics

Leadership characteristics are the distinguishing characteristics of a leader including the intelligence, honesty, self-confidence, and even the appearance (Sugarman n.d) and Daft (2010) advocates six major characteristics of leadership such as physical characteristics including the aspect of leaders’ energy and physical stamina, intelligence and ability including leaders’ intelligence, cognitive ability, knowledge, judgment and decisiveness, personality including self-confidence, honesty and integrity, enthusiasm, desire to lead as well we independence, social characteristics including sociability, interpersonal skills, cooperativeness, ability to enlist cooperation, tact and diplomacy of the leaders, work-related characteristics including achievement to drive, desire to excel, conscientiousness in pursuit of goals, persistence against obstacles and tenacity of leaders, and social background including leaders’ education and mobility.

Based on the movie, we can get the characteristics of Linmin can be divided into four aspects. Referring to the leaders’ characteristics of intelligence and ability, Linmin well annotate it. He is knowledgeable, visionary and decisive which were expressed from his decision to break the 76 refrigerators with quality problems, gather money to expand Haier’s business into international market on the basis of proper analyzing the broad developing prospects of Haier Group. In terms of personality, Linmin was full of self-confidence and enthusiasm, which were disclosed from his belief and passion about the success of the expansion strategy, as he said only the dreamers own the opportunities to realize their dreams. Related to the social characteristics aspect, Linmin has owned well developed interpersonal skills, for instance he could persuade his subordinates from resisting the plan of breaking the 76 refrigerators and the expansion plans to fully agree and devote them to supporting his decision. And in the area of work-related characteristics, Linmin showed a high degree of conscientiousness in pursuit goals that he decisively rejected the invitation of merger with AE corporate under the great temptation of power and money only due to the dream of revitalizing the national industry of China.

3.2.2 Leader’s behavior

As Hughes, et al. (2006) advocated the behavior of leaders are a function of intelligence, personality traits, emotional intelligence, values, attitudes, interests, knowledge as well as experience. And on the basis of the above scenario, Linmin’s behaviors as a leader like the following.

At first, Linmin set clear expectations about the performance of its subordinates such as he presented challenges to his promising subordinates via show supportiveness and concern for their development. Secondly, in the management practice, Linmin successfully create the proper Haier culture with distinctive Chinese characteristics and the orientation of competitiveness inside the Haier Group via his deliberate understanding the essence of traditional Chinese culture as well as the modern western management thoughts, which shows in the successful expansion Haier’s business in the European and American market with the maintenance of distinctive Haier’s culture essence and the successfully promotion the working morale of his subordinates via the case of breaking 76 refrigerators and persuading, communicating with the three promising employees.

4.0 Leadership effectiveness

4.1 Behavior style of the leadership and the effectiveness

The situational theory proposed by Hersey and Blanchard focuses on a great deal of attention on the characteristics of followers in determining proper leadership behavior as figure 1.0 shows. The point for this theory is that subordinated vary in their readiness level. And according to this theory a leader could adopt four types of leadership behaviors such as telling style, selling style, participating style and delegating style on the basis of the readiness level of the subordinates. (Daft 2008, 2010; Hughes, et al. 2006; Clark 2008 )

Figure 1.0 Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Theory



Source: Daft 2010, New era of management, 9th edn, South-Western, Ohio,

Based on the above theory and this movie, we can find that the there was a relatively high readiness level of the subordinates of Linmin, which means these followers have necessary education, skills and experience, but they may feel insecure in their abilities and need some guidance from the leader. Let take some of the incidents of the movie for example. As the above scenarios mentioned the three subordinated including the two talents designer and the fresh employee, Yang Yang, are all lack of self confidence and even doubt their ability to fulfill the tasks given by Linmin. Under such circumstance, Linmin maximized their creativity and capability by encouraging participating. He presented the three promising subordinates with challenges and worked with them to help them figure out the best way to meet them. that Linmin successfully persuaded his excellent subordinate namely the translator to stay in Haier Group via digging into the inner feeling of the translator to make him understand what his really need was and regain the feeling of safety also disclosed Linmin’s participate behavior style that giving proper guidance and advice to maximize the real capacity of employees.

By and large, we can make a conclusion that leadership behavior adopted by Linmin is participate leadership.

4.2 Capabilities as change agent and the effectiveness

4.2.1 Concept of the change agent

Stevenson (2008) defined the change agent as a behavior scientist who possesses capacity of maximizing the ability of employees and facilitates the organization’s smoothing development under the assistance of sufficient knowledge on human behavior and intervention techniques.

In the movie, Linmin as the change agent of Haier Group conducted a fantastic change to make the Qingdao Refrigerator Factory successful changed into today’s Haier Group with power and promising future.

4.2.2 Capability as the change agent and its effectiveness

The eight-step change management model proposed by Kotter (1995, 1996 cited in Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009) is the proper theory to explain the capacity of Linmin as the change agent to lead the change of Qingdao Refrigerator Factory, which includes establishing the need for urgency, ensuring there is a powerful change group to guide the change, developing a vision, communicating the vision, empowerment, ensuring there are short term wins, consolidating gains and embedding the change in the culture.

At first, he had an appropriate making analysis for the former Qingdao Refrigerator Factory and pointed out the problems and opportunities for that factory that was to bring in one of the refrigerator production line to save the factory which was on the edge of bankruptcy. Secondly, he created effective working teams via strict trainings to help drive the change. Thirdly, he developed a vision that provided a focus for the change which was made up by the diversification strategies and international expansion strategies. Fourthly, he properly presented that vision to his subordinates such as proper communication with them via effective persuasion and clarification the aim of these strategies. Fifthly, he empowered his staff such as empower Yang Yang as the overseas sales executive Yang Yang to expand Haier’s European market. Sixthly, he realized the short term win of Haier under the help of the high quality products by his fantastic management skills and strong followership. Seventhly, he continued to establish new, related change projects such as building the factory in America. At last, he well linked the change to organizational performance and his leadership to reward the outstanding worker and build a good reputation for himself as the leader.

All of the above change practice conducted by Linmin shows his great capacity as the change agent. The first one is his intrapersonal skills or “self-management” competence which requires him to handle high pressure caused by the change (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory 2000). It also shows his general consultation skills which are knowledge about intervention techniques that help Linmin define the problems and design the changes (Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009). The third one is the interpersonal skills by working with the working teams and obtained their trust to maximize the capacity of his subordinated to meet the changes (Cummings & Worley 2005). Moreover, Linmin own a well knowledge of the organization development theory, which enables him to understand the roles in the changing process Haier Group (Cummings & Worley 2008).

4.3 Effectiveness of leadership behavior

Generally speaking, Linmin as the leader who leading the change in the Haier Group is relatively successful which is reflected from the success of Haier Industrial Park and expansion strategy. All of the behaviors he conducted as the leader and change agent are effective.

At first, he has successfully changed the Qingdao Refrigerator Factory which is on the edge of bankrupt into a powerful and promising company. Secondly, he effectively created a united and excellent working team with full support for him. Thirdly he led Haier Group to successfully expand the oversea markets and made the Chinese national enterprise world famous.

Due to all of the above, we can make the conclusion that Linmin’s leadership behavior is effective.

5.0 Decision making incidents

5.1 Executive summaries of two incidents

One incident is about building Haier Industrial Park. At that time, Haier Group only owned tens of millions of money, while it required 1.5 billion to build Haier Industrial Park. And meanwhile, the market for refrigerator in China was very hot that why the plan to build Haier Industrial Park can’t be accepted by most of his subordinates. They asked him, “Why not expand the production line for refrigerators but to spend so big amount of money to build the high risk industrial park via borrowing.” Faced with these doubts, Linmin still insisted his view on building the Haier Industrial Park to support the diversity development strategy due to his capability to penetrate things on the whole picture that he can predict the bright future of Haier Group under the assistance of the Haier Industrial Park. And he gave a speech to these objectors that And he said, I cannot wait until all of you understand and accept and then began this project, because at that time, opportunity won’t wait for us when recalling the reform road of China, every step is full of risk and opportunity. Only meet the challenge can we win the final success. All of the employees were moved and decided to support such great task.

The other incident is the scene on negotiation with AE the biggest global appliance maker with headquarters in America. Due to the lacking in operation capital and the favorable policy towards joint venture by Chinese government, cooperation with AE Group may help Haier Group solve the current problem. Under such great attraction, Linmin discussed with the senior management of Haier Group seriously and deliberately by properly analyzing the situation that if Haier accepted the offer of AE Group, it would lose its brand forever. And then they made a decision to refuse the offer due to their great dream of protecting the Chinese national enterprise. Such kind of action and patriotism were supported by all of the people in Haier.

5.2 Analysis on leadership roles (leadership involvement and decision making)

The above two incidents clearly disclose the leadership roles of Linmin, which are transformational role and charismatic role.

Transformational leadership is characterized by the capacity of bringing out significant change in both followers and the organization (Babou 2008; Daft 2008, McCrimmon 2007). Linmin’s transformational role can be shown by his involvement in the decision making of the above two incidents. He has the capacity of leading the change in Haier Group’ vision such as re-energizing the Chinese national enterprise via refusing the offering from AE group, strategy such as the Haier Industrial Park as one part of the diversification development strategy, culture such as the patriotism inside the enterprise spirit, and the promotion innovation in products and technologies just as the aim of building Haier Industrial Park was to diversify Haier’s products via new technology.

By and large as the transformational leader, Linmin painted a vision of a desired future state and communicated it in a way that made the pain of change worth the effort (Daft 2008).

Many transformational leaders have charisma, a seemingly-innate capacity inspires enthusiasm, interest and affection from their followers just as Linmin does (Daft 2008). He has the ability to inspire and motivate his subordinates to do more than they would normally do, despite obstacles and personal sacrifice (Daft 2008; Conger & Kanungo1998). Linmin has the characteristics of a charismatic leader. At first, he has an emotional impact on his subordinates because he appeals to both the heart and the mind of people. For instance, in the above two scenes, he spoke emotionally to his subordinates to touch their ambition of doing pioneering work such as the industrial park building to support the diversification development strategy as well as their patriotism of re-energizing Chinese national enterprise to largely motivate their working morale and maximize their working capacity to assist the diversification development plan and expansion development strategy.

Furthermore, as the charismatic leader, Linmin has the characteristic of trustworthiness. To gain the trust from his followers, Linmin bears great pressure. For instance, the task of getting operation money of 1.5 billion to invest the Haier Industrial Park costs him lots of time and energy, but he finally conquered all these problems by his great personal capacity and won all the support from his subordinates.

In addition, Linmin also has the characteristics of charismatic leader that his source of influence comes form personal characteristics instead of s formal position of authority. For instance, one of the reasons why there were so many people support Linmin on the building plan of Haier Industrial Park and the refusing the offer from AE Group even under great attraction is that Linmin owns great charisma.

Generally speaking, Linmin is the leader with the distinct characteristics of charismatic leader as well as the transformational leader.

6.0 Incidents analysis

At the beginning of the movie, to enhance the sense of quality of the workers, Linmin designed a show of breaking the 76 refrigerators with quality problems. Although it successfully promoted the working morale and quality sense of workers in Qingdao Refrigerator Factory, the measures of dealing the broken refrigerators may not be properly enough, because Linmin ordered the workers to burn out these refrigerators after broken them by hammers.

As Crane & Matten (2007) claimed the environment protection should also be taken into consideration as ethical issues when organizations are engaged in their business. According to Crane & Matten (2007), we can make the conclusion that the activity of burning these refrigerators directed by Linmin may be defined as unethically behaviors, because it would have bad influence on the environment around the factory.

Based on this circumstance, it is recommended for Linmin to take the ethical issues into consideration such as the corporate social responsibility including the protection of environment issues, financial ethics, ethics in human resource management, ethics in sales and marketing, ethics in production and so on. Only under the right guide of business ethics, can Linmin direct Haier Group become more and more competitive in the global market (Crane & Matten2007).

Another incident happened in Haier’s oversea factory, when Linmin caught one of the America worker was listening to the music when he was doing his work and another worker refused to accept the punishment to stand on the “big feet” in the front of other workers to commit his mistakes, he explained the Haier spirit to them in order to let them recognized their mistakes. While the first worker said, “listening to music is my hobby which can only assist performance, and the other workers said, “I hope you can respect my personal right, sir.”

This scene disclosed the culture difference between American and China. In American, people emphasize their personal rights so much and in China people may don’t take it to serious (Cascio 2010). Based on this situation, it is suggested for Linmin developing leadership diversity in the process of leading change of the Haier Group especially the knowledge and capacity of leading workforce diversity to respect the difference in culture, nationality, race, age, religion, background, sex orientation, gender and so on in the diverse workforce, which can help Haier Group establish a heterogeneous workforce to perform to its potential and maximize the productivity as well as the creativity of its employees to meet the needs of diverse consumer groups in the global market (Cascio 2010; Millmore, Lewis, Saunders, Thornhill & Morrow 2007, Leopold, Harris & Watson 2005).

Generally speaking, Linmin still needs to further develop his leadership in the business ethics aspect and the capacity of leading change based on the above two incidents in this movie.

7.0 Conclusion

This essay gives a deliberate analysis of the leadership of Linmin in the movie CEO. It shows the effectiveness of Linmins leadership practices as well as the style in leading Haier Group to the success on the basis of several impressed incidents from the movie.

And in the meanwhile, it also objectively analyzes the weakness of Linmins leadership role in this movie and then offers some proper and practical suggestions to help Linmin improve its leadership effectiveness.

Generally speaking, from the movie CEO, we found several shining aspects of Linmin as the leader of Haier Group, and at the same time, there is still some space for Linmin to further develop its leadership.

From this essay writing, we can make this conclusion that every thing has two sides, when we criticize the achievements of leaders, it is important for us to not only praise their merits but also notice the areas which need further improvement. Looking things abjectly is very important.



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