In the behavioral theory it is believed that an employee and a leader’s actions have a lot to do with the performance that transpires. It is also believed that leaders have a lot to do with motivating their employees to do better and thus produce better results than without this motivation taking place.
When leaders within an organization take pride in training, equipping, and influencing their employees in a positive manner the end result will always be something more useful than if this behavior was not present.
Robert Nardelli’s behavioral approach towards leading other leaders and employees did not equip employees to become the type of future leaders the company needed them to be, rather it created leaders to possess the same domineering qualities that he held.
Baack explained the Scandinavian Development-Oriented Approach in more detail when he said: “Initial investigations suggest that the third dimension has value in explaining leader behavior. The approach suggests development-oriented leaders have more satisfied employees. The employees may also view them as being more competent (Lindell & Rosenqvist, 1992). The behavioral theories of leadership stress the importance of leader actions and activities rather than traits and characteristics, which implies that great leaders are not necessarily born that way; rather, employees can be taught and trained to become effective leaders” (Baack, 2012).
The situational leadership style provides the leader with the opportunity to be flexible in their leadership approach and adapt to that particular situation and base their leadership style at the time on the circumstance.
This is not an easy leadership style to adopt; especially for those leaders who have been trained to do their leadership in a certain way. This discussion on the situational theory of leadership brings the need to evaluate Robert Nardelli’s leadership against that of a situational leader.
He did not exhibit the situational leadership model since he thought was the situation needed to adapt to him, and not the other way around.
Silverthorne made an excellent point about situational leadership when it was stated: “The value of any theory is that it allows some level of prediction about future behaviors and provides a context in which to judge outcomes and benefits of different approaches. A prime interest of this study, then, was determining whether situational leadership theory (SLT) is a valid tool for effectively predicting an organization's success. The impact of SLT on productivity was a specific interest. We anticipated that the greater the flexibility demonstrated, in leadership, the more positive will be the employees' response and the greater their productivity. Other key concerns with this research were how leaders define their concepts of adaptability, as well as a leader's ability to be flexible given the particularly rapid changes that occur in high-technology business environments” (Silverthorne, 2001).
Unfortunately Robert Nardelli did not have the kind of leader-follower relationship that once was a huge part of The Home Depot. The employees within the organization needed leadership which would be centered around their needs, not only what the organization was trying to get accomplished.
Since the contingency theory is based around internal and external situations it was important for Nardelli to adjust his leadership around the organization.
Fuchs put it this way: “The CT model intended that effective leadership for a leader-follower relationship is dependent on the appropriate match between the specific leadership style of a leader and the task/ relationship orientation required by the followers in a given organizational environment for optimal follower performance (Fiedler, 1967). The advantage of Fielder’s (1967) CT is that it offers an extensively researched theoretical disposition for organizations 41 wishing to discover greater understanding and effectiveness in the finer details of a particular leader-follower relationships issue. The CT is based on four variables: (a) the leader identified as task or relationship motivated; (b) leader-follower relations; (c) task structure; and, (d) position of power” (Fuchs, 2007).
In a 2007 article by Bruce Nussbaum, he shed some light on the subject of the ethical conduct of Robert Nardelli when he said: “Nardelli gutted the retail side by cutting the great, knowledgeable salespeople who were so helpful to customers. Seth Godin gets it right when he says that consumer complaints about Home Depot soared under Nardelli. He alienated his customers, his employees and ultimately, his shareholders, who were infuriated at Nardelli’s huge compensation while the stock languished. Nardelli’s arrogant behavior at the last annual meeting seemed to seal his fate. His compliant board which gave him so much money despite that lagging stock price, finally bought him out with an outrageous package. They really should be following Nardelli out the door themselves” (Businessweek, 2007).
Some of the leadership team that Nardelli got rid of cost the company in more ways that more could ever be compared to. His leadership style was unethical in the way he treated employees, shareholders, and customers.
The philosophy that the customer is always right has been changed slightly, a better rendering is the customer is sometimes right; but one thing that has never changed is the customer deserving respect each and every time they enter the store.
Part of that respect is having reliable individuals on staff that knows the store and its products and can help customers maneuver around the store.
Nardelli cut a lot of the staff in half at various stores across the U.S. and replaced them with part-time workers; some of which were not equipped with adequate training or enough training.