Shell, Siemens and Daimlerchrysler: Leading Change in Companies with Strong Values
Long Range Planning 38 (2005), 467-484
37 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 10, 2005
This article examines the question of change and the role which leaders have to play in this process. In a turbulent world with increasing competition, leaders are expected to continually initiate and adjust to change. While this view is partly true it is incomplete and even dangerous. Change causes disruption and can lead to chaos and overheating. Cynical employees, unsatisfied customers and disappointed shareholders often find themselves at the receiving end. In search of a formula which allows organizations to adapt without drowning in chaos we studied Shell, Siemens and DaimlerChrysler in the 1980s and 90s. For 3 ½ years we explored the three companies. We discovered that the negative aspects of change can be avoided if leaders take a company’s core values into account and engage employees when they guide their organization through times of change. Such a leadership approach requires good actions by followers and the team and therefore a large talent pool. Shell and Siemens were able to fare better than DaimlerChrysler in this respect. They were able to take this approach due to a collective leadership style. A charismatic and overambitious leader, however, presented the greatest danger to the performance and survival of an organization.
Keywords: leadership, corporate culture, change management
JEL Classification: L20, L21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation