Any employee of a big company can formulate what it means to be a good leader. However, the answers may differ as some workers prefer stronger and demanding directors while others like more democratic leadership style. Though, they would definitely agree that a leader should focus on the success of a company mainly. The purpose of this paper is to characterize the leadership style of Ingvar Kamprad, who managed to make IKEA a profitable company.
There are several leadership styles in business, and one leader may demonstrate the characteristics of several styles simultaneously. Iqbal (2011) supports this idea and writes that the notion of "leadership" is as old as the world because people always unite in groups that often require a leader to manage their activities. The author distinguishes the following leadership styles: (1) autocratic or authoritarian leadership, in which a leader is a dictator and all decisions are taken by him without the involvement of his or her team; (2) participative or democratic leadership, when a leader consults his or her team in the process of decision-making; (3) laissez-faire or free rein leadership, in which a leader gives freedom to his team (Iqbal, 2011). "The leader plays a passive role in group affairs, and usually takes part in decision, when things are initiated by the team" (Iqbal, 2011, p. 11). Thus, the essence of leadership styles significantly varies.
Modern business is generating more and more leadership styles, which are currently used by different leaders. The most frequently applied leadership styles are as follows:
Situational leadership "proposes that effective leadership requires a rational understanding of the situation and an appropriate response, rather than a charismatic leader with a large group of dedicated followers" (McCleskey, 2014, p. 118). Complicated situations are typical for business nowadays, and a leader should know how to guide people through them. However, this leadership style is often criticized for its inconsistency (McCleskey, 2014).
Transformational leadership refers to the moment when a leader increases the level of personnel awareness about the desired outcomes of their activities and uses different kinds of motivation (McCleskey, 2014). Transactional leadership is based on the exchange of flawless performance of employees for the rewards by the administration. Such an effective leader can also use motivation techniques. Though, his leadership focuses not only on the potential of the future activities but also on the current operation of the company, which should be stable (McCleskey, 2014).
The definitions of these leadership styles generalize the strategies of every leader and help to distinguish, which style they prefer to follow. However, a combination of various styles is definitely possible, especially at big companies, which perform activities of different kinds and have many employees. A successful leader will combine positive personal characteristics with his or her leadership abilities and will choose a leadership style, depending on the demands of his or her business.
The history of IKEA is an integral part of the biography of its leader. IKEA is an abbreviation for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (IKEA). According to the official website of IKEA, the history of the company started in 1926 when its founder was born (IKEA). At the age of five, he made his first sales of matches with a good profit. In 1943, Ingvar received financial reward from his father and decided to start his business. He was engaged in inventing furniture design gradually hiring more employees and organizing show rooms. In 1953, the first catalogue was published. In 1958, the first IKEA store was opened in Sweden (IKEA). The range of goods was constantly growing. Thus, in the 1980s, IKEA dramatically expanded to other foreign markets in the USA, France, and the UK. Nowadays, IKEA's stores are located in almost all countries (IKEA). A chain of success for IKEA was interrupted only by certain objective circumstances, such as wars or economic crises, which did not significantly affect business (IKEA). Thus, having started his business from scratch, Kamprad has eventually become successful in the industry.
Kamprad's Leadership Style
When choosing a leadership style, a leader should understand which values will be the basis of his or her business. It is important to note that IKEA has always been a family business. Kamprad believes that his main task is to make employees feel that they are the part of a family and share the common goals to be committed to ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). Kamprad has always been a visible leader in his organization, and the variant of free rein leadership can be immediately omitted. He has developed a unique company culture. Kamprad delegates responsibility equally for the company's activities among his employees. He is ready to recognize the errors which he makes ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). The IKEA's leader once decided that a key to success for a company was not only in creating a family atmosphere but also in being an example family ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). Kamprad's leadership can be described as transformational ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011, para. 12). He inspires his employees to work better and ensures that they have fun at work and love it ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). Only due to his motivation, a concept of IKEA was formed and the company managed to occupy its niche at foreign markets. He is also a democratic leader because his employees are inspired by the fact that they are important to the organization ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). "Kamprad also has some features that belong to a more autocratic leadership style where the ultimate decision belongs to him following his vision" ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011, para. 15). Therefore, the combination of the enumerated leadership styles makes IKEA remarkable for both its employees and customers.
Pursuing the transformational leadership, Kamprad uses different techniques of motivation. To influence his workers positively, he resorts to the instruments of intellectual stimulation and inspirational motivation ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). Undoubtedly, these strategies lead IKEA's workers to success even nowadays. Inspiration and motivations correspond to the following actions: (1) creating a real IKEA family; (2) making all workers feel comfortable; (3) choosing strict business ethics, but combining it with the warm family atmosphere ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). Kamprad is a very charismatic leader who is ready to admit his errors and correct his decisions ("Ingvar Kamprad," 2011). Such a friendly climate, created at the IKEA Company, inspires its employees to work better and to forgive some autocratic decisions of its leader.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Obviously, learning more about leadership styles is very useful for future leaders to understand that being a leader is a complicated task. Thus, it is worth considering the examples of such bright leaders as Ingvar Kamprad because IKEA's success is undisputable. The research defines that a family atmosphere is very important for any company and a mixture of leadership styles is the best option for managing a firm. A style of a leader should be transformational when he/she inspires his employees to work for the common goal and follows the autocratic strategies for making the subordinates understand that the company has a common vision determined initially by its leader.