Charles Coffin

Question 1. Analyze the leadership style of any Business Leader. Does it fit into any leadership theory? What do you think has made him or her a leader? Support your answer with the help of appropriate examples. Answer 1. Charles Albert Coffin (31 December 1844 – 14 July 1926) was the cofounder and first President of General Electric corporation. The person he is only compared to during his lifetime was Thomas Edison. Coffin oversaw two social innovations of huge significance: America’s first research laboratory and the idea of systematic management development.

While Edison was essentially a genius with a thousand helpers, Coffin created a system of genius that did not depend on him. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest person of the world. “A man born to command, yet who never issued orders. ” This phrase sums up the leadership qualities of Charles A. Coffin, General Electric’s first president. His executive skills helped establish GE’s place in the front rank of American corporations. Electrical manufacturing was Coffin’s second career. At 18, he moved from Fairfield, Maine, where he had been born in 1844, to enter his uncle’s shoe business at Lynn, Massachusetts.

He later founded his own shoe manufacturing firm, and by 1883 had established himself as an outstanding success in this line. In that year, Silas A. Barton, a Lynn businessman, proposed bringing to the city the struggling young American Electric Co. of New Britain, Connecticut, whose major asset was the inventive genius of Elihu Thomson. A businessman was needed to supplement Thomson’s technical skills. Coffin was prevailed upon to take the post. He led the new company, Thomson-Houston, to parity with Thomas Edison’s companies, the previous leaders in the field.

When negotiations in 1892 led to the formation of General Electric, a key step in creating a viable enterprise was the installation of Coffin as its first chief executive officer. Coffin never called his subordinates as his junior, he always called them as his associates. Coffin’s associates knew him as a gracious gentleman and delightful companion. He never ordered one of them to do anything, preferring to rely on his powers of suggestion. In his turn, he graciously sought and welcomed suggestions from those around him and then decisively made up his own mind on key questions.

Customers and competitors knew him as both the outstanding statesman and the outstanding salesman of the electrical manufacturing industry. He took a personal interest in major negotiations, often writing business proposals to important customers in his own hand. At tense meetings, he knew how to relieve the pressure with an appropriate anecdote, and how to add the key words to bring matters to a successful conclusion. Charles Coffin would be best fitted in TRAIT theory of Leadership because he had the natural traits of leadership and had some major innate qualities which are as follows: * Intelligence.

He was a very intelligent leader which is shown by his decisions which he made at crucial times of depression. * Emotional Stability: Charles Coffin had a high level of emotional stability which he displayed by negotiating with the, then only competition, Thomas Edison Co. and by merging with them. A leader with the low Emotional stability hadn’t taken a decision that wisely, and his co. would be collapsed. * Human Relations. Charles Coffin had adequate knowledge of human relations. He was able to developing people and getting their voluntarily help for being the no.

1 company of that time * Communicative Skills: He knew how to communicate effectively. He used his skills for persuasion, motivation. He was an extrovert leader. He often wrote business proposals to important customers in his own hand. He is one of the greatest leaders of all time because he is one of the first person to establish America brand to the world. His innovative thinking and emotional rationality had made him one of the best leaders of all time. He had initiated various projects which had completely changed the world.

It will be not wrong if we describe “Steve Jobs as our generation’s Charles Coffin. ” He took challenging decisions of bringing a struggling Electrical company. He never ordered his subordinates, he just gave them advice to what they should do. The decision of merging with then only competition Thomas Edison Co. to form General Electronics was crucial as well as made the America as we see it (GE is world’s no. 6 in terms of gross revenue). His greatest test came in the depression of 1893. A cash shortage threatened GE’s existence. He coolly negotiated a deal with J. P.

Morgan whereby New York banks advanced the needed money as payment for utility stocks that GE held. The tactic saved the company and made possible its rapid recovery and growth during the remainder of his tenure. The strength and wide-ranging excellence of the company he passed on to Owen D. Young and Gerard Swope when he retired from the board chairmanship in 1922 was and remains his greatest monument. Question 2. “The more cohesive a group is, the better it can cater to the needs of its members”. What are some of the factors which can help to increase the cohesiveness of a group?

What are the threats that can hamper the group cohesiveness and hence effectiveness. Answer 2 A group is said to be in a state of cohesion when its members possess bonds linking them to one another and to the group as a whole. Although cohesion is a multi-factored process, it can be broken down into four main components: social relations, task relations, perceived unity and emotions. Members of strongly cohesive groups are more inclined to participate readily and to stay with the group. Factors which can help to increase the cohesiveness of a group: 1. Degree of Dependency on the group.

The more dependent a person is on the group for some result or effect, the greater will be group’s attractiveness, and consequently greater is its cohesiveness. It has been suggested that the greater the number of individual needs a group can or does satisfy, the greater is its attractiveness and its cohesiveness. 2. Size. Other things being equal, size has an inverse relationship with group cohesiveness. This is so because group cohesiveness increases through interaction between group members. 3. Homogeneity and Stable Membership. Groups whose members have same interests and backgrounds are often more effective in promoting their interest.

This so because the relationships have to persist over a period of time to permit people to know one another to develop common understanding of shared goals and values. 4. Location of the Group. If the group members are located close to each other, they interact themselves frequently and freely. Therefore, group cohesion could be high. Also, if the group is isolated from other groups, cohesion is high. 5. Group Status. A group with high status with success stories is more attractive to its members. Therefore, they show solidarity among themselves and group cohesion tends to be high. 6. Group Leadership.

The qualities of the group leader determine the extent to which the group members bind themselves with the group. If the leader is dynamic and energetic, he motivates the group members to work with zeal for the attainment of common goals. He tries to build and maintain high group loyalty among members 7. Outside Pressures. Members of a group tend to herd together to face challenges from outside pressures. When there are pressures from outside, group members tend to minimize their personal differences in order to fight the common enemy. 8. Competition. Inter-Group competition brings cohesiveness in the group.

Success resulting from this competition increases cohesion further. Threats that can hamper the group cohesiveness are: 1. Cohesiveness declines as the members or subgroups within the group tend to use different methods to accomplish the same goals. The how of accomplishment of the goals is disruptive factor here. 2. Difference regarding the goal or goals of the group can have an adverse effect on cohesiveness. Differences of this nature, however, are not as disruptive as differences about methods to achieve a single recognized goal. 3. If the goals of the individual members of the group are in conflict, the cohesion of the group is lessened.