Leadership Case Study

Leadership Case Study

Case Study Adolf Hitler 20th April 1889 – 30th April 1945 Introduction Adolf Hitler was born 20th April 1889 in Braunau am Inn, Austria. Charismatic Leadership Hitler is renowned for his charisma which can is evident in the speeches he gave during his rise to power and throughout his leadership. Hitler was described as a natural orator, attracting masses of thousands of German people. Dr Mueller who was present at the Beer Putsh* reflected of Hitler’s speech; Many attribute Hitler’s successful rise to power to his charismatic communication.

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Hitler adopted a direct style of speech using straightforward language and demonstrating emotional understanding of the needs of the German people. Hitler’s charismatic communication succeeded in drawing in the German people’s attention and was arguably his most powerful asset. In an attempt to define charisma, Halpert developed a three-dimensional structure made up based on the work of House The three dimensions consist of; referent power, expert power, and job involvement. Referent Power

Referent power is centered on the leader’s relationship with his followers and their ability to influence through what followers perceive as desirable characteristics Hitler began his rise to power relying on referent power. He built a relationship with the German people based on the isolation they felt post World War I (WWI) and after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Hitler used Germany’s state of disrepair to his advantage by conveying inspirational appeal to the German people. Expert Power Hitler had no academic qualifications when he began his political career aving been kicked out of technical school in 1904, one year after the death of his father. The implementation and success of Hitler’s Keynesian policies after the depression was due to the advice of Hjalmar Schacht, the President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics Hitler did however have a significant amount of expertise in warfare as he had served as a runner in WWI. Hitler’s years in the trenches had a significant impact on his career as a military commander, This worked to Germany’s advantage during the early stages of the war, however it ultimately lead to the unnecessary death of many soldiers.

Hitler’s beliefs on the duties of a soldier were shaped during WWI, he believed that soldiers should always be ready to obey orders without question. Furthermore, he believed that when soldiers and generals surrender, they and consequently he would avoid retreat whenever possible. This was particularly devastating to the German people during the Battle of Stalingrad, Hitler refused to pull back his men despite the casualty rate of approximately 20,000 German men a day. Job Involvement Job involvement refers to the emotional involvement and meaningful goals of the leader. This is an area in which Hitler excelled.

Hitler’s goal of restoring German sovereignty after WWI and the great depression was one in which the majority of the German people could relate to. Germany suffered significantly as a result of the Great Depression with 6 million unemployed in 1932 and as a result they could personally identify with Hitler’s goals. Transformational Leadership Trait Approaches Research conducted by Kirkpatrick and Locke has shown that there is evidence of key leader traits amongst effective leaders. These traits include; drive, desire to lead, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability, and knowledge of the business.

Kirkpatrick and Locke state that these key traits Hitler’s traits include drive and desire to lead, socialism, control, task focus, and charisma. Task focus and charisma were previously discussed. Drive and desire to lead Hitler’s drive and desire to lead can be attributed to his patriotism and devotion to the restoration of Germany. Hitler’s patriotism to Germany began at an early age as a result of his unpleasant relationship with his father, Alois Hitler. Alois was an Austrian Civil Servant who would often beat Adolf as a child which instilled him with fear and hatred of his father.

Later in his life Hitler reflected to his secretary that . Hitler’s relationship with his father only worsened with time when his father forced him to go to technical secondary rather than classical so that he could follow his dream of becoming an artist. Hitler’s dysfunctional relationship with his father encouraged him to give his loyalty to the German Kaiser rather than to the Hapsburg Monarchy, whom his father had expressed his loyalty towards While Hitler’s relationship with his father encouraged him towards German politics, it was Hitler’s involvement in WWI, which instilled him with a sense of patriotism and nationalism for Germany.

Hitler served as a runner, delivering messages between the front line and regimental headquarters. He was awarded the Iron Cross both first class and second class for bravery Germany’s defeat after WWI left Germany in a state of disrepair. They were forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles and take full responsibility for the war, which resulted in the loss of territory, 2. 2 billion pounds of debt and a restriction on the German armed forces to prevent further warfare. This resulted in a ‘Stab in the Back’ theory, which was popular amongst many Germans, particularly Hitler who blamed Jews and Marxists for Germany’s defeat.

Germany’s state of disrepair gave Hitler a passionate desire and drive to restore Germany to its rightful place in the world. These traits as mentioned above are associated with successful leadership. Socialism After WWI Hitler joined the German Workers Party which under his leadership later became the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), commonly referred to as the Nazi party. Hitler’s move towards socialism can be attributed to his time spent in Vienna as a homeless failed artist. After pawning all of his possessions and being forced to beg for his money he eventually moved into a homeless shelter in 1909.

These years spent amongst other homeless individuals may have been what influenced Hitler to join a socialist party which claimed that it’s purpose was the serve the people of Germany At the German Workers’ Front convention in Berlin Hitler stated that Although socialism is not one of the traits mentioned by Kirkpatrick and Locke it proved to be a very effective trait in the case of Hitler’s leadership as it inspired his in the Nazi party which ultimately led to the successful rebuilding of Germany post WWI. Control Hitler’s need for control was a significant weakness and contributed to his downfall at the end of World War Two (WWII).

Elements of control can be seen through Hitler’s years as a leader beginning with his control over the Nazi party who didn’t dare do anything against his wishes for fear of him leaving During Russia’s invasion of Germany Hitler attempted to control the German citizens and soldiers by issuing orders to the SS to kill anyone who was travelling without authorization or anyone claiming to be lost. Hitler’s thirst for control was evident up until his death when he chose to end his life rather than submit himself to the Russians.

He ordered for his body to be cremated after his suicide, as even after death, he could not face the Russians having control over his body. Behavioural Approaches Rensis Likert developed a four-level model of leader effectiveness. System 1 represents an autocratic leader, system 2 a benevolent leader, system 3 a participative leader and system 4 a democratic leader Hitler’s leadership does not fall into any one of these systems; it was a combination of the first three systems and towards the end of his leadership is captured entirely by system one.

During Hitler’s time as Head of State before WWII (1934-1938) his leadership style falls into both system 2 and system 3 of Likerts’ model. Hitler began his political career with the intention of serving the German people. The tenth point of the 25 points of Hitler’s Nazi Party states that Hitler introduced the Volkswagen (the ‘People’s Car), which was built for the benefit of the ordinary German citizen and also introduced large projects such as the Autobahn, which provided employment to many Germans.

Consequently, Hitler’s leadership during the period 1934-1938 can be seen as paternalistic in style. However, there was a distinct change in Hitler’s leadership style following the outbreak of WWII towards an authoritative system. Hitler relied on fear and coercion to enforce his will. This can be seen through his ‘Fuehrer Principle’ (leader principle) which dictates that total authority is vested in the Fuehrer. According to the principle, According to Likert’s model Hitler should have altered his leadership style from authoritative to participative and democratic to remain an effective leader.

It should be noted however, that during Hitler’s effective years of leadership, his leadership style represented that of a benevolent leader (system 2) rather than participative or democratic which Likert attributes with effective leadership. Situational/contingency Approaches Situational leadership theory Hersey and Blanchard (1989) established a ‘Life Cycle’ theory of leadership which states that in order to be successful, leaders much change their leadership styles based on the ‘maturity’ of the people they are leading (TB p. 07). The theory postulates four main leadership styles: Telling (S1) is an authoritative state in direct their followers in what to do and how to do it, this state should be used when the followers have a low level of maturity. Selling (S2) is a state in which leaders must provide information and direction rather than just direct orders, this should be used when followers have a moderate maturity level, they are willing to work but do not have the necessary skills.

Participating (S3) is a relationship based state in which the leaders focus is more towards relationships with followers than direction, the leader shares decision making responsibility. This leadership style should be used when followers have a moderate maturity level with the necessary skills but lacking confidence in themselves. The final leadership style is Delegating (S4) in which leaders delegate the majority of the responsibility onto the followers. This should only be used when the followers exhibit high levels of maturity.

Hitler would be classified as a high task low relationship leader (telling leadership style) under Hersey and Blanchard’s model of situational leadership theory. This style of leadership was a particularly useful one when Hitler first came into power and Germany was in a state of disrepair. Hitler’s direct approach of leadership can be attributed to his flawed relationship with his father. Hitler’s schoolmates described Alois as a man who; Hitler’s relationship with his father instilled him with a desire for direct control even at a young age.

His French teacher Dr Huemer stated that . His demand for unconditional subordination remained with him throughout his life. Hitler’s direct approach of leadership can also be attributed to his time serving as a runner during WWI. Hitler’s time serving as a runner taught him to be disciplined and may have encouraged the view that his later followers should be disciplined and regimental in following his orders. Hitler’s direct approach brought Germany out of the depression and instilled a sense of German pride in citizens.

In March of 1936 Hitler addressed the German people during a political rally stating that; Hitler’s address was a great success with the majority of the German people applauding Hitler’s recovery of Germany. However, Hitler was unable to change his leadership style to meet the changed attitudes of his followers towards the end of WWII. Hitler remained a directive leader, not listening to the advice of his generals and advisors.

According to Hersey and Blanchard’s model Hitler should have shifted his leadership style to the ‘delegating’ style as the maturity of his followers shifted from low to high in order to remain an effective leader. Normative decision making model Vroom and Yetton (1973) identified five leadership styles in their decision model. At the beginning of Hitler’s career his leadership style can be associated with that of Consultative Type 1 (C1), a leadership system in which the leader consults with relevant team members individually about certain problems, however the leader is the ultimate decision maker (TB p. 11). This is evidenced by Hitler’s behaviour throughout his leadership. At the beginning of WWII Hitler would hold briefings every afternoon and night with his senior military advisors who would present him with the most recent information on the status and activities of all units. However, Hitler’s attitude changed towards the end of WWII when Germany suffered it’s first defeat by Russia in the battle of Moscow and then again in the battle of Stalingrad.

An assassination attempt, ‘Operation Valkyrie’ also known as the July 20 plot, also contributed to Hitler’s change in leadership style. He began to mistrust his advisors and shifted from a Consultative Type 1 leader to an Autocratic Type 1 leader. Hitler would ignore the advice of his generals and ordered that no unit be allowed to move without his authority Cognitive resource theory ——————————————– [ 1 ]. http://www. bytwerk. com/gpa/vw. htm [ 2 ]. http://www. mindtools. com/pages/article/newLDR_44. htm


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