Leadership practice in Maxwell Group

Questions for case 2: Maxwell Group

Question 1: Identify and comment on the strengths and weaknesses in leadership development at Maxwell Group. Support your comments with relevant theories.

In figure 1.0, it shows these elements of the two-factor theory, in which two types of factors to motivate employees are identified such as the motivators and hygiene factors (Herzberg 2003). In brief, the two kinds of factors become the reasons for employees to support the arrangement of their organization and produce expected outputs for their organization as well. In the following, this theory will facilitate us to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the leadership development at Maxwell Group.

Figure 1.0 The two –factor theory

figure 1.0


Source: adopt from Herzberg, F. 2003, One more time: How do you motivate employees, Harvard Business Review, p.87-96,

Performance of the engineering company


In the engineering company, the first strength of its leadership development is the emphasis on the technical training. And the second strength is its support for employees to take part in outside managerial course to improve their theoretical knowledge with half reimbursement on their tuition cost to make them improve their ability in a more comprehensive way.

Referring to the two-factor theory, both the motivators and hygiene factors emphasize the job security and working condition in motivating employees (Herzberg 2003). The support of the engineering companies for their employees on both developing their job required knowledge and skills such as the technical skills and offering chances to them to developing their managerial skills such as these MBA course. In another words, these support and development in this company realize employees’ needs on job security namely the job required knowledge and skills and the good working condition for people to develop themselves (Herzberg 2003). And in the meanwhile, people are also given half of the reimbursement of their tuition cost on the MBA course, which fulfill people’s needs on good interpersonal relationship between them and their company.

Hence, we believe these aspects are the strengths of the engineering company owns in leadership development for its people to fulfill their needs by understand their requirements.


The first weakness of the leadership development in the engineering company is the ignorance of the other side of needs for its people such as the achievement needs of employees in the category of motivator factor and the payment needs in the two-factor theory (Herzberg 2003). As it may not be able to provide a higher level of tasks or payment for people after they have developed themselves in a more comprehensive and stronger stage. Such kind of ignorance results in their leave.

The second is the poor cost management in sponsoring employees to take part in the MBA courses outside. If this company is able use a more effective means, instead pay the half of the course fee immediately, employees may not choose to give up their current job immediately (Cascio 2010). Then, there may be more time for this company to manage this issue and retain talents.

Performance of the consumer products making company


This company has developed a comparatively deeper understanding of employees needs on leadership development from the ordinary people to some management level, which meet the needs of people in not only the personal growth, recognition and achievement but also the working conditions and supporting from company policies as the two-factor theory emphasized (Herzberg 2003). Hence, the leadership development practices in this company may also make both effective and efficient results such as the improvement of senior manager on management skills for junior managers and job efficiency improvement for ordinary people.


The weakness of the leadership development in this company is its ignorance of the fairness principle in work (Guest 2007, vol.24). As the case mentioned, about two thirds of people aren’t be given the chance to take part in these development and there is seemed no satisfied explanation on that. Based on the two-factor theory, these people may not be motivated due to the poor performance of this company in giving people proper motivator including personal growth chance and the hygiene factor such as the job security and the supportive working conditions for them (Herzberg 2003).

Performance of the electronics company


This company bases on the two-factor theory to give these potential people chances and well-designed leadership development programs to gain personal growth, realize their self-value under the support of good working condition (Herzberg 2003). These supportive activities make people who take part in the developing programs work so hard and make this company gain expected results as well.


The political infighting of people to gain the developing chance in this company is seemed as its weakness. It may be due to the ignorance of the relationship building and the effectiveness of communication improvement to result in misunderstanding occurrence among employees (Cascio 2010). And in the meantime, the ignorance of building up equal and effective competition mechanism to guide the inside competition in a healthy way may also be the reason for the political infighting in this company (Guest 2007, vol.24).

Question 2: What types of changes are most likely to improve the leadership development in the group? Why?

In line with the situation of leadership development in the Maxwell Group, we suggest the following changes.

Culture building

In Maxwell Group, it is seemed there is a need for it to establish its corporate culture to promote the equality in both working and career development, to improve employees’ sense of belonging towards Maxwell, to advocate harmonious working environment and to enhance the communication effectives from the upward, downward and the horizontal level (Martins & Terblanche 2003).

For one thing, such kind of strong corporate culture may regulate some unethical or negative political behaviors of employees in pursuit their interests by sacrifice the welfare of others or even the group. And such kind of culture prompting the equity in career development may reduce employee’s complaints for this group and improve their favorable level for their group (Martins & Terblanche 2003).

For the other, such kind of culture may also be effective to improve the quality of communication from the three levels such as the upward, downward and the horizontal level to make management get immediate feedbacks on the needs of its people in career development and carry out immediate actions to retain talents to reduce the turnover rate of employees removing the incidents in the engineering company (Martins & Terblanche 2003).

Standardize the process of leadership development

As there is in a shortage of unified approach in Maxwell Group to develop the leadership, which are not only time and money cost but also different to manage, it is significant for Maxwell Group to unified and standardize the leadership developing process and programs.

Firstly, to standardize the criteria on candidates choosing in the whole group including the required qualifications, working experiences, educational backgrounds, achievements and so on to regulate the choosing process in picking up the right candidates to attend the leadership developing programs may remove these political infighting and complaints of employees, because only the qualified people will be given the chance for leadership development (Lawler & Worley 2006).

Secondly, it may also promote the working performance of some employees who desire to attend such kind of leadership development programs by improved performance and achievements (Lawler & Worley 2006).

And regulating the leadership development contents for employees in Maxwell Group may enable the development consequences to be more productive and cost saving (Lawler & Worley 2006).

Modification on reward system

To reinforce the positive influence of the leadership develop activities in Maxwell Group, redesigned reward system may produce good results (Lawler 2000). The rewards should include not only the public recognition and career development needs namely promotion of these participants in the programs but also some monetary rewards such as the rise of salary or additional compensation to fulfill employees’ needs on payment rising (Lawler 2000).

Such kind of modification in the reward scheme may reduce the possibility of people to leave this group due to the failing in meeting their needs on higher payment or better career chance to support Maxwell to retain talents (Lawler 2000).

Question 3: What additional information is needed to make a good report to the CEO?

In addition to the general information about the performance of the current leadership development in the three companies and designed changes to improve its effectiveness, there are also some important items necessary to be included in the report to the CEO.

For one thing, these inputs required to be invested in the leadership development in the future for Maxwell shouldn’t be ignored. Firstly, the overall budget designed to invest into the leadership development should be included to facilitate the CEO to assess the value of the leadership development programs for this group (Day 2001). Secondly, these variables and uncertainties in the leadership development plan in Maxwell in the future including the time, place, and trainer design and so on and the evaluation of these variables on the overall performance of the leadership development in Maxwell to facilitate the CEO further evaluate the value and prospect of this development plan are also necessary (Day 2001).

For the other, the systematic and clear design outline for the future leadership program in Maxwell group on be based of these proposed changes should also be included (Avolio & Gardner 2005). And these specific design and outcomes should also be shown in a logical manner to support the CEO’s further evaluation on the leadership development issue in this group (Avolio & Gardner 2005).

In addition, the evaluation on the short term and long term outputs of the leadership development programs should also be emphasized (Avolio & Gardner 2005). At first, short term outcomes produced by the leadership development in Maxwell should be included via the prediction on these positive outcomes on the short term performance such as the employees’ satisfaction level on the leadership development programs, employees’ enthusiasm and favorable level on this issue, the reduction level of employees’ compliant level on this issue, the reduction level of the political infighting among employees, the reduction level of employees turnover rate due to the programs finishing and other related short term outcomes (Avolio & Gardner 2005).

Secondly, the long term outcomes related to the leadership development in Maxwell may be included as well. As a matter of fact, the most important thing for the CEO is whether the leadership development programs in Maxwell Group are able to bring the expected results (Day 2001 & Avolio & Gardner 2005). That is whether such kind of leadership development programs may assist the Maxwell Group to cultivate qualified leading talents to support the development of this group in the future with the most cost effective means. With this concern, the long term benefits of the leadership development in Maxwell Group should be emphasized to give the CEO a thorough analysis on the potential of this leadership development plan in cultivating the capable leaders and the evaluation of these possible types of these leading talents that may occur such as in the human resource aspect, the finance aspect, the marketing aspect or comprehensive talents and so on (Day 2001 & Avolio & Gardner 2005).

In brief, all of the information and issues included in this report for the CEO is to offer a brief but clear analysis on the potential value and importance of the leadership development and these related suggestions on the modifications of the current practices to make the CEO develop the knowledge and understanding on both the current strengths and weaknesses on the leadership development practices in this group and the modified programs and its value for Maxwell in the future.



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