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The Leadership Style Of Michael Dell Business Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 2955 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The first attribute and most importantly, from the leader is the decision to become a leader. At what point of time and the leaders decide they want to provide others with vision, and guiding the course of events in the future, and inspire others to achieve success. These people have some characteristics that help people identify the leaders of this trust and ethics, discipline and respect. Leadership requires the individual in the exercise of power and responsibility. If someone choose to become a leader, whether in community, workplace or in a state of emergency, and discuss these characteristics will help leaders develop the right mix of qualities, skills and ambition.

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One important quality of a good leader is trust. When the leader believes in him, and others follow suit. Leaders cannot expect others to believe them if they doubt themselves or they make decisions. In addition, in order to lead, one must be a strong set of moral values. And a fixed set of values ​​is always one reference when faced with a difficult decision-making. People should be able to predict how they would react to their leader some cases because they know what faith in which they live. Leader with the moral values ​​gives those who they lead to ensure that the decisions they make will be desirable ones. Another feature that a good leader should have is discipline. Good leaders must be able to discipline themselves first and then those in which they live. With a little effort, and should be a leader be able to put others on the right track. Finally, all leaders need to respect: respect for themselves and respect for others, and most importantly, respect from others. Leader with no respect for any leader at all. People committed only to those who respect and, therefore, that the leader must earn the respect of others through continued and consistent accountability. Any person who has these qualities (trust, ethics and discipline, and respect) has the keys to leadership. It is their choice to be used effectively or not used at all.

This assignment examines the entrepreneurial and leadership skills of Michael Dell, the CEO and Chairman of leading online PC retailer DELL. Michael’s interests and business ventures starts during his school days and his entry into the computer business are explored in detail.

Literature Review:

“A leader is a dealer in hope” Napoleon Bonaparte said. Leaders are considered the key people behind organizations’ success. How leaders influence people has a great impact in the level of organizations’ performance and success. Employees do their work by following instruction of their managers. But whether they willingness follow instruction rather than forced to do it makes a different.

Ralph Stogdill (1950) defined leadership as “an influencing process aimed at goal achievement.” Leadership is all about making people follow leaders’ goals. People are affected by leaders were the willingness follow them.

There are different leadership styles describes leaders behavior. Leaders are known as autocratic when they are more directives and monopolize decision making. They can also be participative when they put people beside them in taking decisions. Other leaders are democratic were they delegate powers to people and empower them.

Lots of theories have been raised related to leadership. Earlier theories discussed more the leaders as people born with special characteristics which make them leaders. One of the earliest theories defines leadership is the Great Man theory (also called Heroes) by Thomas Carlyle which suggest that leaders born not made. It also suggests that leaders come when there is a great need. Trait theory followed the same base suggesting that leaders inherit special traits and the right combination of traits make them leaders.

Behavioral theories worked against earlier theories suggesting that leadership can be learned and made. These theories look into what leaders do. One of the famous theories is Managerial Grid by Blake and Mouton in the 1960s who described leaders based on their concern for people against their concern for production.

Figure : The Managerial Grid by Mounton & Blake


The contingency leadership theory came with an idea that there is no one best way to lead people. It suggests that an effective leadership style in some situations may not be successful in other situations. Least Preferred Co-worker (LPC) theory by Fred Fiedler is based on scoring leader’s opinion about their co-worker and their preference to work with again based on positive factors (friendly, helpful, etc.) and negative factors (unfriendly, gloomy, etc.). High LPC leaders tend to be more supportive and have close and positive relationships. Low LPC leaders are task oriented and may turn to relationship only when they are satisfied with how the work is going.

Situational Leadership suggests that leadership style changes based on the situation. According to Hersey and Blanchard, they categorized leadership styles into four types, Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating.

Telling: clear directions where leader is sort of autocratic. All decision are made by the leader. The roles are clearly defined and tasks procedures are provided. It is a one way communication. This style can be followed when people lack the specific skills and are unwilling or unable to do the task.

Selling: still directions are provided by leaders. Leaders provide socioemotional support. It becomes a two way communication. This style works to people who are willing to do the task but unable to take responsibility for it.

Participating: leaders are more supportive and collaborative. People are involved in decision making and in deciding how the work is done. Leaders follow more relation behavior and less task behavior. This style works when people are experienced but are not confidence enough to take responsibility.

Delegating: leaders plays a monitory role. People become more responsible. Such style works when people are experienced and able to take responsibilities.

Figure : Situational Leadership

When people follow leaders because they inspire them, these leaders are known as transformational leaders. These leaders with vision and passion and can achieve great things. They motivate people to follow them by their charisma which moves peoples’ enthusiasm and accelerate their energy. Such leaders have a great big picture and influence followers to see it and work toward achieving their goals. The opposite type of leaders is transactional leaders who motivate people by reward and punishment. They are more work oriented and they put clear work structure for people to follow. This type falls under the leaders who rely on a system of rewards and taxes. When they are choosing the leader of the group must be set to follow the rules and do what is required from the leader without discussion, to get in the end the rewards.

Micheal Dell Biography:

Michael Saul Dell is the founders, the chief executive officer and the chairman of Dell Inc. He was born on 23/02/1965 in Houston, USA. He is married with 4 children living in Austin, Texas in the USA. He is ranked 44 of the richest people in the world with a net worth of around USD 14.6 billion. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dell)

His passion with computers started at age 15 when he disassembled his Apple II, his first computer, and reassembled it to see it working. His bright business idea started in his first year of studies at the University of Texas at Austin in 1984 – when he was just 19 – when he started his own business with only USD 1000 capital. He started building and selling personal computers from his university room with an idea to sell directly to customers rather than selling through third parties which will make his product cheaper than the market. This allowed him to build PCs based on people’s requirement. These all allowed him to build customized PCs based on customers need and avoid storage costs.

Mr. Dell did not complete his university as he left University of Texas Austin to focus on his new venture – PC’s Limited which grew sharply to be listed as Dell Computer Corporation in 1988 which have been valued around USD 85 million. In 1992, Dell Computer Corporation was listed as one of the largest 500 companies in the world on the Fortune 500 which made Mr. Dell the youngest CEO ever.

His company grew rapidly and become one of the leading computer firms around the globe. He managed it directly being the CEO for almost 20 years till early 2004 when he stepped down from being the CEO and become the chairman of the board of directors of Dell. In 2007, Mr. Dell returned to manage the company as CEO at the request of the board to replace Mr. Kevin Rollins as result of a 9% drop of Dell stock performance.

Mr. Dell spends lots in charity activities as he spend huge amounts for philanthropic activities. He with his wife Susan formed the “Michael and Susan Dell Foundation” which aims to improve the children lives in USA and internationally.

Dell’s Achievements

Mr. Dell is a magnate who led his company to be huge to be considered one of the largest companies in the world. It is ranked 41 out of the top American companies as per the Fortune 500 in 201 based on annual revenue.

Since his starting from his room with USD 1000 in 1984, with a small capabilities but a sharp and powerful vision to sell cheap computer with custom features, Mr. Dell moved forward sharply. His company PC’s Limited introduced its first own design pc “Turbo PC” in 1985 which generated USD 73 million as gross profit. Three years later, PC’s Limited was renamed as “Dell Computer Corporation” and become a public company after offering 3.5 million shares through IPO at a price of USD 8.5. Dell opened its first international branch in UK in 1988.

Dell began an online selling strategy in 1996 which was a revolutionary idea which boosted their revenue. Dell Computers Corporation become Dell Inc in 2003 to reflect their expansion beyond computers as new products introduced by dell such as televisions, handhelds, digital audio players, and printers.

After Michael Dell became the chairman and Kevin Rollins became the CEO in 2004, there was a drop back in dell performance of its computers end product force Michael Dell to wear his hate again as Dell’s CEO in 2007.

Dell went through many acquisitions which helped in expanding the business. Their acquisition series started in 1999 by acquiring ConvergeNet Technologies. During Kevin Rollins time heading the company, Dell acquired Alienware in 2006. In 2008, the acquisition of EqualLogic helped to put a foothold in the storage market. Dell also acquired Perot Systems in 2009 and Software-as-a-Service in 2010,

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Michael Dell’s Leadership style:

When Mr. Dell started his own business, he had limited management experience. As his business started growing sharply, management skills became necessary to drive his company toward success. Vision is not enough at this stage. This is why he brought his Lee Walker who was a venture capitalist who provided him with the required managerial and financial experience. Mr. Walker was Dell’s mentor and helped building his confidence to become a polished executive. Mr. Dell turned into a charismatic leader as his knowledge of all parts of the business grew and he motivated people by gaining their loyalty and respect.

Mr. Dell used to hang out with his engineers in the early days of his company. He was known as a shy person. People who worked closely with him described him and “likable young man who was slow to warm up to strangers.” (Successful leaders, 1999)

His experience made him a public speaker as he is known to speak in a quiet reflective manner. He motivates people with his charisma and aggressiveness.

His successful leadership is a result of four main strengths:

His goal was clear and he stayed focus on it.

He has a strong innovation sense.

He is a hard worker with a great understanding of his responsibilities. He is known of his good balance between work and life (family).

He has powerful vision for the future with a unique business’s philosophy.

Dell’s manages his company directly as a CEO for 20 years where he was known as a warm guy with good characters for making his staff feel like part of a team. After he dropped out and Mr. Kevin Rollins become the CEO, Mr. Kevin kept and emotional distance from staff. In 2007, the board of directors of Dell Inc. agreed that Mr. Dell is required to glue the team again. He is back as the CEO and changed his way by introducing a new leadership board. He delegated power and share decision making.

Mr. Dell brought Mr. Kevin on board when the company expanded to have multi product in multi geography locations to help him manage the company. They started a new leadership approach of having two CEO’s in one company. Even though there is risk of conflict but fortunately, it worked well with them.

Dell said: “Lots of places. I’m helping set business strategy and providing clear performance objectives for the different parts of the business”. He also said “I’m selling Dell all the time to lots of people: customers, investors, employees.”

Analyzing Dell’s management style showed different ways of leadership. He was autocratic in his early life where he makes decisions. He became participative when he started sharing management, first when he started the two in a box style where two CEO in board leading the company, and second when he introduced the leadership board after he returned to CEO position in 2007.

The way Mr. Dell changed his style to fit the conditions of his organization showed that he is following the situational leadership style. However, his style was more affecting people by his characteristics rather than his way of decision making. People working with Dell have a sense of loyalty to him. He managed the company since its inception and was successful leader where everyone liked him. When he left for 3 years, employees, performance got affected and Mr. Dell came back to gather the team back. Such charisma and effect on people proves that Mr. Dell is a transformational leader who guide people by charisma and inspires them to follow his goals.

Characteristics of Dell make him effective Leaders. Following a transformational leadership style gave him credibility, resulting in the trust and confidence of his people. Keeping the promises and follows through on the commitments was part of Dell’s qualities. Dell makes sure that the actions are consistent with the wishes of the people leaded. He has a clear idea of what others value and what they can do.

Michel Dell creates a trusting and open climate, to help others to be successful and to feel empowered. He also tried to encourage members to do more. Michel Dell showed the followers that they aren’t just the figurehead or decision maker. Members respect leaders more when they show the willingness to work alongside them. They avoid phrases that cause resentment, reluctance and resistance. For instance, instead of saying you have to do something, effective leaders request or recommend that members do something. Characteristics of a Successful Leadership are the person others choose to follow, provide vision for the future, provide inspiration, make other people feel important and appreciated and last but not least behave ethically. (Leader Skills, 1982)


The importance of leadership style is evidenced by a long history of educational and managerial theorists who have promoted a variety of concepts to explain leadership expertise. Proponents of transformational leadership theory have claimed that transformational leadership is the most favorable leadership style in any setting.

However, situations may vary between organizations base on culture, type of business, people’s behavior, etc. However, Michael Dell case shows as main issues to be a great leader who creates difference. One of the main lessons of this assignment is that successful leaders must have a clear goals and vision. He must have a long seeing vision.

Leaders also must influence others to motivate them to follow their vision and achieve organizational goals. They should transform their goals and vision all followers’ practice.

Innovative is one of the critical characteristics of a strong leader. Leaders should develop this sense in the organizational culture. They should be willing to take risk of doing new things and find an opportunity from it.

Other lesson from Dell’s case is leaders should have high moral responsibility. How Mr. Dell had a clear distribution of his time between work and life. Moreover, leaders with good relationship behavior become more attached by followers. Such leaders gain people’s respect.

Dell has no fear of admitting what he is incapable of. Whenever he misses any skills, he get someone capable to the board to help him managing the business. This made him successful and allowed him to gain experience from those people.


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