Having worked in Exxon Mobil as a human resources professional, I have acknowledged certain issues the company’s top management has. The company is one of the leading producers in the world oil market and strategic planning is essential for its development. Social responsibility and environmental sustainability have become the company’s priorities but some top managers fail to incorporate these values into their leadership and operations. Therefore, one of the serious issues top managers of all departments face is the lack of effective leadership skills that would address recent trends existing in society. The present case study focuses on the leadership style used by the NYC Comptroller, Mr. Scott M. Stringer.
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The target audience of the present report is the top management of Exxon Mobil. The case study will help Exxon Mobil’s top managers obtain insights into the way certain leadership styles affect the development of the organization as well as the community. The case study will help understand how environmental, social, and economic aspects can be incorporated into effective leadership strategies.
Brief Description of the Agency
The Office of the Comptroller is the agency that holds audits of city agencies’ performance and provides assistance in handling a variety of financial issues. In other words, the Comptroller’s responsibility is to provide “an independent voice to safeguard the fiscal health of the City, root out waste, fraud, and abuse in City government” as well as to guarantee efficient performance of agencies “to achieve their goals of serving the needs of all New Yorkers” (The duties of the comptroller, 2014, para. 1). Thus, the agency implements audits of pension funds, City’s budget, manages and ensures efficient solutions for claims, enforces wage laws, comes up with incentives and policies which are beneficial for all New Yorkers.
The agency staff is about 760 employees including accountants, economists, researchers, attorneys, claim specialists, administrative support staff, and IT specialists. The agency aims at covering issues in all the spheres including but not confined to education, healthcare, environment, business, diversity, zoning, and communities’ empowerment, and so on.
Brief Details of the Public Manager
A career in the Public Sphere
Mr. Scott M. Stringer has been the NYC Comptroller since November 2013. His career in the public sector began in 1992 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly (About Scott M. Stringer, 2014). Mr. Stringer represented the West Side of Manhattan from 1992 to 2005. His achievements are numerous and remarkable. He has been seen as an effective leader committed to ensuring the development of the middle-class as well as increasing diversity in the community. One of his major concerns is the empowerment of the community and individuals.
For instance, he completed an efficient 6-point ethics reform package for the administration of the public pension system of New York. He also appointed the Chief Diversity Officer whose job was to provide support and guidance to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses. Mr. Stringer managed to collaborate with several universities and contribute to the creation of new jobs for graduates. He has always tried to help the middle-class to develop through providing a variety of funding programs, policies, and so on.
Notably, he implemented several programs and policies that increased transparency in the budgeting process. He has also fought for immigrants’, women’s and minorities’ rights through passing appropriate legislation that covers such spheres as education and healthcare. For example, he is one of the co-sponsors of the marriage equality bill and a keen supporter of the GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act).
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Importantly, Mr. Stringer has been a supporter of community empowerment especially when it came to environmental issues and zoning. He played a decisive role in the case concerning hydraulic fracking in the area. Mr. Stringer advocated the ban of fracking and the court decided to give the right to the community to “ban fracking under their zoning code” (About Scott M. Stringer, 2014, para. 9). It is necessary to add that this case reveals the major qualities of Mr. Stringer and his values. He is eager to contribute to the development as well as the empowerment of local communities. He is also conscious of environmental issues and strives to come up with efficient solutions. These qualities are important for an effective leader.
The Problem Facing the Agency
As has been mentioned above, Mr. Stringer has solved a variety of issues. One of the most remarkable cases is the way he handled an environmental issue concerning hydraulic fracking in the area.
Magis, Ingle, and Duc (2014, p. 239) that leaders in the public sphere have to address “the well-being of society as a whole, including environmental, social, and economic dimensions”. This is one of the major differences between leadership in private and public spheres, as in the private sector, leaders can focus on economic dimensions only. Notably, non-governmental entities can focus on social and/or environmental issues ignoring economic aspects. However, the public administrator has to pay attention to all three spheres.
Hydraulic fracking has long been a disputable issue due to potential risks associated with this activity. This issue has been prevailing for several years and this year it was resolved due to attempts of Mr. Stringer. It is noteworthy that the state Legislature passed the Environmental Protection Law which acknowledges the importance of “[l]ocal participation in planning activities which influence the ecological balance on the locality and therefore the state” in 1970 (Huntsman & Stringer, 2014, para. 3).
Thus, some communities have taken quite an active part in this process since then. At the same time, the Department of Environmental Conservation imposed a ban on fracking in Syracuse and New York City only. However, the rest of the people in the area (as well as people in other states) were not covered by this ban and had to take their stand to protect their rights and ensure their safety and appropriate quality of life.
Mr. Stringer in coalition with other opponents of fracking focused on possible negative environmental effects, negative impact on people’s health as well as financial losses for the municipalities associated with hydraulic fracking. As for financial concerns, Mr. Stringer addressed the Court with a claim that fracking in the area was likely to lead to significant road damage and declines in property value. For instance, according to the state Department of Transportation, the funds that could be spent on transportation (road reconstruction, repairs, and so on) might reach $378 million each year (Huntsman & Stringer, 2014). Admittedly, financial concerns are important when it comes to a policy or incentive in the public sphere.
Environmental and Health Issues
As far as environmental issues are concerned, the particular effects of hydraulic fracking are still unclear. However, there is a significant body of research that reveals the potential hazards associated with the activity. Hence, fracking contributes significantly to water contamination. Such elements as radium, methane, and various heavy metals pollute underground water. This results in numerous environmental issues. Soil is also contaminated and plants, as well as animals in the area, may develop illnesses due to contamination.
People are prone to a variety of diseases associated with such water contamination. The development of chronic illnesses is one of the health concerns. Importantly, people will be unaware of potential hazards and will be even more vulnerable if hydraulic fracking occurs without any agreement and certification. Admittedly, further research is necessary to identify particular threats but it is clear that fracking is potentially dangerous and people have the right to make their decision. They have to be able to decide whether they are ready to accept the risks or they will choose a safer and better environment.
Tools Used to Handle the Issue
As has been mentioned above, Mr. Stringer contributed greatly to solving the problem as the Court decided to secure local communities’ right to ban hydraulic fracking in the area. It is possible to consider several strategies used to handle the issue. In the first place, Mr. Stringer utilized the concept of leadership and he was an inspiring leader of the movement against hydraulic fracking.
He employed his skills, knowledge, and influence to implement an effective campaign that resulted in the ban. People trusted Mr. Stringer who had proved that he was committed to secure the rights of communities. It is possible to assume that the effective leadership and inspiring fight of Mr. Stringer played a significant (and, perhaps, crucial) role in the development of an effective solution.
Collaboration with Local Communities
Another strategy, which is closely connected with the one mentioned above, in collaboration with communities. Mr. Stringer has always noted that communities have to be able to make decisions to ensure their development and people’s quality of life. The Comptroller has seen collaboration with people as a key element of successful decision-making. He is ready to listen to different voices to make sure that the decision is effective and beneficial for people living in the area.
In the case in question, local communities, as well as municipalities, contributed greatly to the development of the solution. Mr. Stringer encouraged people to participate in the process and this was a successful strategy. As has been mentioned above, the team of Mr. Stringer consists of a different specialist who is efficient and inspiring. Each member of the team collaborated with people and this communication was another important element that led to the ban.
Research, Investigation, and Holistic Approach
Finally, the Comptroller has always been based on research, as he believes that any decision has to be well-grounded. The present case is an example of this precision. Mr. Stringer referred to several studies implemented by different agencies. The Comptroller referred to data on potential hazards to the environment, health as well as the economy of the area. Mr. Stringer and other opponents of fracking did not simply claim their right to affect certain decisions but they provided significant bulk of evidence to support their views. This holistic approach ensured that the ban was imposed as the Court managed to consider all facts and arguments of stakeholders.
The Type of Leadership Employed
It is possible to exploit different approaches to identify and evaluate the leadership type used by the Comptroller. For instance, the situational approach can be applied as it focuses on one of the major peculiarities of Mr. Stringer’s style. According to this approach, there are four major leadership styles and Mr. Stringer employs the coaching approach (S2) (Northouse, 2010). This is a high directive-high supportive style and the leader concentrates on both goal achievement and meeting subordinates’ needs.
Thus, the Comptroller had a vision and he knew how to achieve the results. However, Mr. Stringer did not simply assign tasks to implement or decisions to make by other stakeholders. He encouraged all stakeholders to come up with their ideas to find the best solution. Mr. Stringer provided a certain kind of guidance as he referred to research, he encouraged people to participate in the discussion and he managed to affect policymaking. He did not let stakeholders do whatever they wanted as they all participated and had their roles.
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Strengths and weaknesses of the leadership style
The strength of this approach is that it implies a significant level of involvement on the part of all stakeholders. In other words, there is certain discussion and collaboration, all voices are heard and all ideas are considered. The style also involves certain freedom and subordinates are more committed to finding the most efficient solution (Northouse, 2010). At the same time, people have certain guidelines and they are focused on particular tasks and processes. The approach enables to employ a holistic approach as different facets of the issue can be discussed.
The approach has some weaknesses as well. For instance, it requires a significant amount of time and decision-making is not a very fast process as there are numerous discussions. It also requires effective communication channels to ensure fast and adequate communication among members of the team.
Effectiveness of the approach
The use of the coaching approach accounted for the success in the case under consideration. Mr. Stringer managed to achieve his goal and empower communities to decide on a fracking ban. It was essential to utilize a holistic approach in the present case. Coaching leadership was an effective strategy to achieve the goal as all people could voice their concerns. For instance, businesses focused on economic gains (jobs and energy safety).
However, the ban supporters concentrated on environmental issues, health issues, and local communities’ losses and concerns. People of different professions and backgrounds united to achieve their goals and reveal different facets of the problem. At the same time, Mr. Stringer guided all these people and advocated for their rights. This led to the ban of hydraulic fracking in the area.
According to the trait approach, there are five universal qualities shared by all leaders. These traits are intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity, sociability and it is also important to consider the five-factor personality model, emotional intelligence (Northouse, 2010). Mr. Stringer can be characterized by these major traits.
Hence, Mr. Stringer is an intelligent person who has a vision and can communicate with people. He is also a self-confident individual since he has pursued numerous goals and achieved them as he has believed that he was doing the right thing. He is determined to reach the goals set. Mr. Stringer has a high level of integrity and he is ready to take responsibility for his actions. Mr. Stringer is also characterized by a high degree of sociability as he is tactful and diplomatic, friendly, and attentive.
He has the necessary degree of neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, which makes him an effective and inspiring leader. Finally, Mr. Stringer has emotional intelligence as he can reveal emotions and understand other people’s feelings, which makes him responsive, supportive, and effective.
Strengths and weaknesses of the leadership style
Based on the brief analysis of the leadership style, it is possible to note that Mr. Stringer is an inspirational leader. For instance, the leader (due to his/her traits) inspires individuals and communities to strive for better conditions. People tend to choose inspiring representatives who, they think, can set clear goals and teach them to contribute to the development of the community.
At the same time, this is also a weakness of the approach as everyone relies heavily on the leader. Thus, people may lack being active and fail to participate in the process of decision-making.
Effectiveness of the approach
However, it is necessary to note that in the present case the use of the leadership style was justified and resulted in the ban. In the public sector, this leadership style is very effective as the leader is in the spotlight (Northouse, 2010). Mr. Stringer has contributed greatly to the development of the state and he is an inspirational leader. At that, he is willing to empower communities and individuals. Therefore, he does not simply make decisions but he starts the discussion and guides people fighting for their right for the appropriate conditions and their empowerment.
Finally, it is possible to use the approach of transformational leadership to consider the effectiveness of Mr. Stringer’s leadership. Northouse (2010, pp. 176-177) claims that transformational leadership implies “improving the performance of followers and developing followers to their fullest potential”. In other words, the leader is inspiring and encouraging. He/she provides support and guidance necessary to develop the followers’ abilities as well as personal traits.
The leader inspires the followers to become leaders. Northouse (2010) also states that this type of leadership consists of idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration. These elements combined lead to performance beyond expectations and the development of new leaders. It is noteworthy that transformational leadership also affects the implementation of various reforms and leaders may often miss some trends that develop and, hence, they have to use a complex approach when using their leadership style (Moynihan, Pandey & Wright, 2011).
Strengths and weaknesses of the leadership style
The style mentioned above has numerous advantages. In the first place, it is aimed at increasing people’s participation and input. Thus, the use of the approach results in the development of subordinates who become leaders and can actively participate in the process of decision-making. Another strength is the use of a holistic approach as all members of the team have the opportunity to reveal their ideas and concerns. This is closely connected with the concept of diversity that is important in the contemporary world. Teams include people coming from different backgrounds and these people become effective leaders and advocates of the needs of their community.
One of the weaknesses of the leadership, it is time- and effort-consuming. The leader has to develop a plan and cover numerous processes to guide each individual. Admittedly, it may be quite difficult to achieve particular goals and develop leaders at the same time, especially when there is little period to complete a process.
Effectiveness of the approach
In the case in question, Mr. Stringer employed elements of transformational leadership. It is unlikely that he spent the amount of time enough to develop leaders. However, he encouraged people and communities to take their stand and become more active. Notably, the decision of the Court suggests that Mr. Stringer achieved his goal as the number of proponents of the ban was significant and these people provided sufficient evidence to prove the ban was justified. Furthermore, he was not fighting alone as his team was a part of the process and Mr. Stringer had a great impact on his subordinates. He managed to create an effective team of leaders that contributed to achieving the goal set.
On balance, it is possible to note that a brief analysis of the leadership style employed by the Comptroller and its success suggests that he has utilized an effective approach. Irrespective of the approach to leadership styles exploited, it is clear that Mr. Stringer is an inspirational leader who focuses on both goals to achieve and empowerment of people who are a part of the team. He can be regarded as an illustration of an effective leader in the public sector who addresses serious issues and comes up with efficient solutions. Therefore, the approach utilized by Mr. Stringer and his leadership style can be employed by the top management of Exxon Mobile in numerous settings.
About Scott M. Stringer. (2014). Web.
Huntsman, J., & Stringer, S. (2014). In the name of local democracy: Let towns, cities decide on fracking. Web.
Magis, K., Ingle, M., Duc, N.H. (2014). Emerge: Public leadership for sustainable development. In D.F. Morgan & B.J. Cook (Eds.), New public governance: A regime-centered perspective (pp. 238-249). New York, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Moynihan, D.P., Pandey, S.K., & Wright, B.E. (2011). Setting the table: How transformational leadership fosters performance information use. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory Advance Access, 22(1), 143-164. Web.
Northouse, P.G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
The duties of the comptroller. (2014). Web.