Alan Keith is a chief accounting officer and controller for the Turner Distribution Company. He was recruited as a part of the acquisition team, but his inborn professional qualities and skills made him effective leader. When he was asked to take the role of vice president of business operations in Hanna-Barbera studies, he agreed and moved to Los-Angeles to meet his new destiny. His task was challenging as he had to re-invent completely Hanna-Barbera studios. He realized that that was the sphere where leadership worked at it best. And he appeared to be true.
Speaking about Keith’s leadership qualities, it is necessary to underline that always knows what is important for him, for his working team, he realizes his strengths and weaknesses, driving forces and pitch falls. Moreover, Alan seems to be aware of when it is necessary to draw a line. He is an effective leader possessing clear values and objectives as well as self-confidence, savvy, persistence and knowledge. It is necessary to admit his personal qualities such as passion, empathy strength of a character, humor, wisdom reliability, sensitivity, creativity at work, common sense, etc.
Alan Keith states that one should know himself, because it helps to overcome challenges, ethic dilemmas and problems, to communicate with people having different thoughts and ideas, to make relevant and complex decisions, to define the sources of satisfaction and relaxation if necessary.
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Alan Keith believes that true leader should to be clear about his own values, priorities, and preferences and not let someone else, or society, define them for him, because by clearly identifying those values, priorities, and preferences he can articulate what he wants.
One more quality is willing to commit meaning besides being self-aware and shrewd; Alan needs not to be afraid of responsibilities and duties. For him, being a leader requires sacrificing your free time, to put others before yourself, etc.
Alan Keith became successful because he confronted traditional culture with fresh radical ideas. Moreover, focus on creativity contributed significantly his personal and career success. Alan realized that studio was ruled by manufacturing philosophy. Keith said: “It was about doing it cheaply, getting it out the door and getting it on the air as quickly as possible”. (p.9) Studio’s motivation was driven by volume, not quality and creativity.
The factor, as usual, had highly centralized structure meaning that all decisions about creativity were made only by several people. That system damped creativity and Alan Keith managed to change the situation and to make studio one of the leading in the world. He realized that something had to be done quickly; otherwise, all efforts would be in vain.
Alan Keith managed to re-shape corporate vision and perception of team work at the studio. He emphasized the role of creativity for team members replacing and replaced manufacturing mentality. Cartoon animation is art and only then manufacturing. Keith stressed: “It was a huge struggle to get to the place where we could actually admit that all we really care about right now is bringing the right kind of creativity into this organization”. (p.9) As a result, studio produced thirty-nine successful cartoons with different characters.
Keith managed to change everything: thinking, organizational structure, vision and ways of operating. Keith staked on deeper connection with people and appeared right. Studio climate changed as well: “We did everything from completely overhauling and doing a face-lift on the space so that it spoke to the creative spirit to encouraging anybody in the company”. (p11) Alan Keith succeeded because he dedicated himself personally to developing leadership within organization.
Alan Keith faced different cultures, thoughts, ways of life, and he did seize the opportunity to lead. Actually, I don’t see any weakness in his leadership style. I understand that there are no perfect people and each person has certain weaknesses. The only thing I can mentions is that he should be less emotional. In certain cases, personal emotions may lead to failure. However, this is not Keith’s case. Speaking about exemplary practices of leadership Keith outlines five of them which seem the most important: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable other to act and encourage the heart.
The first practice is modeling the way. It suggests finding choice by clarifying personal values and objectives; setting the example by aligning actions with shared values. Alan Keith realized if he wanted to gain commitment and achieve the highest standards, he should be the model of behavior for others. He was always clear about his guiding practices. Alan Keith argued that he leader from what he believed. He stressed that leaders should have their choice give voice to their values and believes. The second practice is inspiring a shared vision. Alan Keith proclaimed creativity as shared vision of the studio. Creativity helped him to rejuvenate decaying organizational practice.
The next practice is challenging the process. Keith always ventured out. His success is confronting traditional culture with creative ideas. He challenged the process by innovative products and cutting-edge services. Alan Keith is true pioneer as he steeped out in the unknown. The fourth practice is enabling other to act. Keith managed to foster collaboration and increased trust among leadership and simple workers.
He engaged everybody in teamwork realizing that people should feel committed and strong. Finally, the fifth practice is encouraging the heart. Keith created community spirit and celebrated values and victories as celebration is considered effective motivational tool. Alan showed appreciation for individual excellence. Summing up, Alan Keith has all the makings of effective and successful leader. He is perfect both as leader and a person.
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