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Mary Barra Leadership Style

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Business Studies

Mary Barra became the first female leader of a major automaker when she was named CEO of General Motors in 2014. Since becoming the CEO, her leadership skills have been useful in overcoming challenges faced by the company. Follow along to learn more about Mary Barra's leadership style, her leadership qualities and strategies and leadership principles.

Mary Barra started her career with General Motors working as a co-op student before proceeding to get a degree in electrical engineering at General Motors Institute. Sponsored by General Motors, she received her MBA from Stanford University.

On her way to being the CEO of General Motors, she gradually climbed through the ranks, taking on the roles of:

  • Plant manager

  • Executive vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain

  • Vice president of global manufacturing engineering

  • Vice president of global human resources

  • Executive director of vehicle manufacturing engineering

  • Senior vice president

During her time in these roles, she and her teams were tasked with the quality design of vehicles and engineering.

Mary Barra's success story is one filled with dedication, hard work and leadership know-how. She knows how to navigate through different challenges and pursue both her and her organization's goals. This has earned her accolades and recognition across the auto industry and from leaders in other industries.

She has also been named on Forbes list as one of the most powerful women in the world and made the cover of Times Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Mary Barra Leadership Style

During Mary Barra's first year as CEO at General Motors, she displayed her leadership, problem-solving skills and in-depth knowledge of the organization by leading her organization out of a public relations crisis in which defective ignition switches were linked to 12 deaths, and kept from the public for more than a decade. She redefined the organization goal from being the biggest automaker to being the best by redirecting the organisation focus to

  • Organisational excellence

  • Customer and

  • Relationship management

A few years later, she was named the organization's Chairman, a role she held together with the role of CEO.

Her inclusive and transformational leadership style was particularly helpful in achieving these feats.

1. Mary Barra Inclusive Leadership Style Analysis

The inclusive leadership style , also called the participative leadership style , is a leadership style where leaders intentionally seek and consider inputs from different groups or races of people, without biases, to make better decisions while still putting their own perspectives into consideration. Inclusive leaders inspire their employees to perform and drive organizational growth by making them feel valued for their opinions.

Upon becoming the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra pushed for the recruitment process in the organization to be more inclusive. This move led to General Motors recruiting competent employees from diverse backgrounds, bringing in different perspectives and ideas.

She is also known to favor a collaborative approach to decision making by conducting meetings with teams to ask for their opinions on certain projects. She has been quoted to favor the consensus approach but has no fear to make the final decision when a consensus cannot be reached.

This approach can be seen from her quote to the Los Angeles Times,

At the end of the day, a decision has to be reached. If we can't get a consensus, then I have no problem in making the decision.

Going on, she said

I want a constructive tension-filled environment, to make sure all options are evaluated from all angles.

2. Mary Barra Transformational Leadership Style Analysis

When Mary Barra became CEO of General Motors in 2014, her handling of the situation the organization found itself in was spot on. She further went ahead to transform the organization and remodel its values , using her influence in empowering and motivating the employees towards innovation with a goal of putting General Motors as an auto leader for safe and environmental-friendly automobiles.

The transformational leadership style is a leadership style where leaders look to cause a change in their teams both organizationally and socially. This leadership style looks to motivate and empower the teams towards improving their performances, and also looks to align the team goals with the organization interest.

This is particularly visible in General Motors 'goals under Mary Barra, who had a vision to create a world with zero car crashes in order to save lives, zero congestion to save customers' time and zero car emissions to leave a cleaner planet for the coming generations.

Mary Barra is also a believer in empowerment, she is quoted saying:

I'm a big believer in education. I believe if everyone can get a great education, they will be on their way to becoming their best self.

Mary Barra's leadership principles are centred on:

  • Inclusiveness,

  • Empowerment,

  • Determination,

  • Putting employees and customers' needs first by achieving company goals,

  • Result orientation,

  • Understanding the business.

In a move to take General Motors out of a threatening situation, Mary Barra showed her integrity and what she stood for by publicly admitting to the death of hundreds of workers caused by an ignition issue.

2. Determination

Mary Barra is a driven, passionate and result-oriented person. She possesses the confidence to make quick decisions, take risks and use unconventional methods in solving problems. A particular example of determination was when she became CEO and the company was in a threatening situation, she took initiative and was determined to keep the company afloat.

3. Social

By showing genuine interest in her employees' lives through her interaction with them, Mary Barra showed how social she is. She emphasizes inclusivity, making everyone feel valued and heard in order to improve team performances.

Together, these qualities help Mary Barra pursue both her inclusive and transformational leadership style.

Mary Barra Leadership Style - Key takeaways

  • Mary Barra became the first female CEO of one of the big automakers when she was appointed CEO by General Motors in 2014.

  • Mary Barra practices an inclusive and transformational leadership style
  • The inclusive leadership style, also called participative leadership, is a leadership style where leaders intentionally seek and consider inputs from different groups or races of people, without biases, to make better decisions while putting their own perspectives into consideration.
  • The transformational leadership style is a leadership style where leaders look to cause a change in their teams organizationally and socially.
  • Mary Barra leadership principles are centred on:
    • Inclusiveness,

    • Empowerment,

    • Determination,

    • Put employees and customers need first by achieving company goals,

    • Result orientation,

    • Understand your business.


References:

https://www.capitalism.com/mary-barra/

https://infogalactic.com/info/Mary_Barra

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Biljana-Stanisic/publication/329416366_General_Motors_CEO_Mary_Barra_-_Leadership_style_analysis_Individual_assignment_-_Critical_essay/links/links-d6f5d20299bf-16522-ershipCEOstyle-Motary-analysis-5d6f5d20299bf-16522fignershipCEOstyle-5D20299bf16522-assershipCEOstyle-5Motary-anal- leadership- CEOstyle-5D20299bf16522- essay.pdf

https://companyleaders.org/2020/11/04/the-success-story-of-mary-barra-the-ceo-of-general-motors/

https://www.iedp.com/articles/leadership-journeys-mary-barra/

https://www.forbes.com/profile/mary-barra/?sh=7150043710ad

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329416366_General_Motors_CEO_Mary_Barra_-_Leadership_style_analysis_Individual_assignment_-_Critical_essay

https://financhill.com/blog/investing/mary-barra-leadership-style

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Biljana-Stanisic/publication/329416366_General_Motors_CEO_Mary_Barra_-_Leadership_style_analysis_Individual_assignment_-_Critical_essay/links/links-d6f5d20299bf-16522-ershipCEOstyle-Motary-analysis-5d6f5d20299bf-16522fignershipCEOstyle-5D20299bf16522-assershipCEOstyle-5Motary-anal- leadership- CEOstyle-5D20299bf16522- essay.pdf? origin = publication_detail

https://www.google.com/amp/s/hbr.org/amp/2020/03/the-key-to-inclusive-leadership

https://resources.workable.com/what-is-inclusive-leadership

Mary Barra Leadership Style

When Mary Barra became the CEO at General Motors in 2014, her handling of the situation the organization found itself in was spot on. She further went ahead to transform the organization and remodel its values, using her influence in empowering and motivating the employees towards innovation with a goal of putting General Motors as an auto leader for safe and environmental-friendly automobiles. Thus, Mary Barra is considered a transformational leader.

Mary Barra practices the transformational and inclusive leadership styles.

Mary Barra leadership principles are centered on:

  • Inclusiveness,
  • Empowerment,
  • Determination,
  • Putting employees and customers needs first by achieving company goals,
  • Result orientation,
  • Understanding the business.

Final Mary Barra Leadership Style Quiz

Question

 Choose the correct answer


  1. Mary Barra practices the transformational leadership style only

  2. Mary Barra practices the transformational and participative leadership style

  3. Mary Barra practices the participative and inclusive leadership style

  4. Mary Barra practices the inclusive leadership style only

Show answer

Answer

B. Mary Barra practices the transformational and participative leadership style

Show question

Question

Choose the correct answer


  1. Mary Barra is the most influential woman in the world

  2. Mary Barra was appointed chief executive officer and chairman in 2014

  3. Mary Barra participative leadership style is also be referred to as the inclusive leadership style

  4. Mary Barra inherited General Motors

Show answer

Answer

C. Mary Barra participative leadership style is also be referred to as the inclusive leadership style

Show question

Question

Another name for the inclusive leadership style is


  1. Transformational leadership style

  2. Autocratic leadership style

  3. Participative leadership style

  4. Hands-free leadership style

Show answer

Answer

C. Participative leadership style

Show question

Question

The inclusive leadership style 


  1. Values inputs from across all team before making a decision

  2. Does not take inputs from teams before making a decision

  3. Is a master-slave relationship

  4. Takes a hands-free approach during decision making

Show answer

Answer

A. Values inputs from across all team before making a decision

Show question

Question

Is Mary Barra a transformational leader


  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Not sure

Show answer

Answer

A. Yes

Show question

Question

Another name for the transformational leadership style is


  1. Inclusive leadership style

  2. Participative leadership style

  3. Authoritative leadership style

  4. None of the above



Show answer

Answer

D.None of the above

Show question

Question

The inclusive leadership style values employees opinions 


  1. Not sure

  2. True

  3. False

Show answer

Answer


B. True 


Show question

Question

Explain Determination as a Mary Barra's leadership quality 


Show answer

Answer

Mary Barra is a driven, passionate and result-oriented person. She possesses the confidence to make quick decisions, take risks and use unconventional methods in solving problems. A particular example of the determination was when she became the CEO, and the company was in a threatening situation, she took initiatives and was determined to keep the company afloat.

Show question

Question

Explain the inclusive leadership style


Show answer

Answer

The inclusive leadership style also called the participative leadership style is a leadership style where leaders intentionally seek and consider inputs from different groups or races of people without biases to make better decisions, while putting their own perspectives into consideration.

Show question

Question

Explain the transformational leadership style 


Show answer

Answer

The transformational leadership style is a leadership style where leaders look to cause a change in their teams and socially. This leadership style looks to motivate and empower the teams towards improving their performances, and also looks to align the team goals with the organization interest.

Show question

Question

Mary Barra redirected General Motors goal from being the best automaker to ……


Show answer

Answer

Organization Excellence, Customer and Relationship

Show question

Question

 Mary Barra leadership principles does not include


  1. Inclusiveness

  2. Empowerment

  3. Determination

  4. None of the above

Show answer

Answer

D. None of the above

Show question

Question

A visible goal which shows Mary Barra transformational leadership style at General Motors is


Show answer

Answer

The vision to create a world with zero car crashes in order to save lives, zero congestion to save customers time and zero car emissions to leave a cleaner planet for the coming generations.

Show question

Question

What major leadership change did Mary Barra make to General Motors recruitment?


Show answer

Answer

 Upon becoming the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra pushed for the recruitment process in the organization to be more inclusive without disqualifying the role of qualification. 

Show question

Question

 Which of the following is not a leadership quality possessed by Mary Barra


  1. Determination 

  2. Integrity 

  3. Social

  4. None of the above

Show answer

Answer

D.None of the above

Show question

Question

The leadership style where leaders actively seek and consider inputs from different groups of people to make decisions is called...

Show answer

Answer

Inclusive leadership style

Show question

Question

The transformational leadership style is a leadership style where leaders look to cause a change in their teams ...

Show answer

Answer

organizationally and socially

Show question

Question

What is not a characteristic of transformational leadership style?

Show answer

Answer

Motivate and empower employees

Show question

Question

What is not a characteristic of inclusive leadership style?

Show answer

Answer

actively seek and consider employees' inputs to make a decision

Show question

Question

Inclusive leadership style is also called...

Show answer

Answer

participative  leadership style

Show question

Question

What are 3 focuses of Mary Barra's definition of organisation goal?

Show answer

Answer

  1. Organisational excellence
  2. Customer management
  3. Relationship management

Show question

Question

Mary Barra's success story is one filled with dedication, hard work and ... know-how


Show answer

Answer

leadership

Show question

Question

The following quote reflects what quality of Mary Barra's leadership style?


"I'm a big believer in education. I believe if everyone can get a great education, they will be on their way to becoming their best self."


Show answer

Answer

Empowerment

Show question

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