General motors crisis


According to an independent investigation released by Volukas, the crisis at the General Motors (GM) involving ignition switch recall had led to at least thirteen deaths. In this live case study; one can take notice of a sad culture crisis which is a dominant force in the existence of an organization (Kuppler, 2014). 

This paper seeks to analyze the case scenario at GM by focusing on the leadership style, the shift from the approach and any other elements of culture that influence the change throughout the course of the case study. The final aspect of the paper will connect the in-depth analysis to the different insights and a conclusion.

Evaluating the Leadership Theory

Leadership Style: The leadership style used at GM is the laissez-faire where team members were given a lot of freedom to do their work and set their deadlines. This autonomy allowed the employees to work under their terms thus affecting performance and response to issues that arose. An example is where the top leadership received conflicting information regarding the ignition switch crisis since they lacked control over their staff and the frequency of reporting. 

However, the leadership style shifts after the management realizes the need for accountability and dealing with the level of incompetence indicated in the report. This change was necessary for ensuring that any form of toxic behavior that conflicted with the values of the company was done away with (Mind Tools, 2017).

Characteristics and decisions of management: Most managerial decisions entail risk, conflict, and uncertainty while lacking structure. However, these features are not evident in the decisions made by the CEO, Mary Barra whose action points exhibit certainty and structure regarding programmability (Kuppler, 2014). In this case, the decisions reflected accuracy and comprehensive information about the state of affairs at the company as well as a well-articulated structure towards reforms (Castro,2015).

The internal and external influences: The internal environment refers to factors within the organization that impacts the leadership approach and success of its operations. According to the case study, the internal influences that caused the shift include the need to increase the strengths of employees regarding motivation and talent. This element involved improving the safety program and quality of performance through the appointment of a responsible safety leader. 

On the other hand, external influences consist of some factors outside the organization that the management has not much control over (Kuppler, 2014). The most influential external factor that influenced the shift in leadership style is the legal and ethical element that compelled the organization to abide by the stipulated business laws and ethical standards regarding employee and customer safety.

The relationship between a leadership style and the decision-making process: Within the case, there was a shift from the laissez-faire form of leadership to the transformational leadership style. The outcome was a more emotionally intelligent, self-aware, humble and accountable form of leadership that realized the challenges facing the company, what action to take and how to respond to the society’s scrutiny

(Mind Tools, 2017). To achieve this change, the management engaged in a decision-making process that involved identifying problems, seeking the necessary information, brainstorming solutions, choosing an alternative, implementing the plan and evaluating the results.

Assessing Organization Culture

The internal culture within the organization: The culture at GM represents a way of life where people and systems work against each other hence limiting performance and quality of services offered. Job satisfaction at GM is at a minimum with most employees complaining about poor working conditions, unreliable supervisors, and an unfair reward system. Regarding politics, power, and authority, the organization’s culture failed to allow the elements to work interdependently with employees and management failing to adhere to workplace rules and ethical guidelines (Kuppler, 2014).

Examples from the case study: GM’s culture exhibits various problems that affected the overall performance of the organization. Examples included the reluctance to escalate issues, the existence of the GM salute in which members avoided responsibility by crossing their arms and shifting the task to someone else, and the GM Nod. The GM Nod phenomenon involved employees nodding in agreement to all proposed plans of action but had no intention of following the plan to completion.

Insights and Conclusions

Leadership style and internal culture: The original leadership style used in the case study is the laissez-faire. This autonomy allowed the employees to work under their terms thus complimenting the sad internal culture at the organization (Kuppler, 2014).

The relationship entailed people and systems interacting in a way that contradicts with the achievement of the desired goals and objectives.

Influence on changes in leadership style: According to the case, the organization underwent a shift from the laissez-faire type of leadership to the transformational leadership. This shift entailed moving from an independent management to a more progressive leadership where the leaders acknowledged the importance of accountability and self-awareness.

The influence of leadership styles and internal culture on the behavior of the employees: the transformational leadership style adopted after the report enabled the leaders to inspire employees since they expected the best from them while holding themselves accountable for the outcomes. 

This transformation influenced the attitude of the team member to improve productivity and engagement through the setting of clear goals such as a safety program. On the other hand, the new cultural approach provided the leadership as well as employees with the opportunity to build trust and transparency required to unite the entire workforce to the benefit of their customers. ReferencesCastro, N., (2015) “Characteristics for Managerial Decisions”. Retrieved from Kuppler, T., (2014) “The GM Culture Crisis: What Leaders Must Learn From This Culture Case Study”. Retrieved from

Mind Tools, (2017) “Leadership Styles: Choosing the Right Approach for the Situation”. Retrieved from