Management Concepts Temasek Holdings Essay

1.0 Introduction

Temasek Holdings is a large investment company based in Singapore. It is an active participator in the investment game, holding shares and investments in a broad range of industries all over the world. As with many companies all over the world, Temasek Holdings was affected strongly by the Global Financial Crisis, losing more than 30 per cent of the value of their portfolio (Schmermerhorn, J. Davidson, P. Poole, D. Simon, A. Woods, P & Chau, S.L. 2011). Temasek’s CEO Ho Ching has been criticised for the investment losses that occurred during the economic crisis, and must now lead the company through the increased turbulence that has been presented to them.

In doing so, a potential issue that Temasek Holdings is currently facing is one of leadership. If correct management processes regarding leadership are not applied, the company could face even worse consequences. To ensure that leadership does not become an issue, Ho Ching must apply effective leadership techniques to Temasek Holdings. This report will investigate various leadership options, determining an adequate approach to leadership that will assist this company in being successful in the future. Two leadership models will be assessed in-depth. It is expected that both will assist the company in continuing in the long-term, however one option will be more suitable and beneficial to Temasek Holdings.

2.0 Literature Themes or Arguments

As Temasek’s CEO has recently come under fire for her stability in leadership, it is apparent that a change must be made in the way the company is managed if they are to successfully remain with the same CEO. Leadership is fundamental in regular circumstances, but it is even more essential to the business through periods of instability, making it vitally important to the livelihood of the company to apply appropriate management procedures. It is impossible for a set of specific characteristics to define whether or not someone is a good leader, however some certain personal traits have been identified as being common among successful leaders: drive, self-confidence, creativity, cognitive ability, business knowledge, motivation, flexibility, honesty and integrity. (Schmermerhorn, J. Et al. 2011). Vision and power are also vital to good leadership; however all of these things are not achieved in the same way.

Many different behavioural theories have been produced in an attempt to define good leadership styles. A widely used model of management is Fred Fiedler’s contingency model. Fiedler’s theory looks at matching various types of people to various situations, somewhat of an either/or concept. It is based on the fact that someone’s style of leadership is personality-based, thus making it difficult to change. Rather, the Fiedler model suggests putting people of specific leadership styles with situations that match that style, rather than trying to change their personal leadership style, to achieve success (Wang, Victor C X; Berger, Jim 2010, pg. 6).

Fiedler classifies people into two leadership styles: relations-orientated and task-orientated. Relations-orientated people are defined as “a person who is motivated to seek prominence in interpersonal relations, who is concerned with good relations with others, who is considerate in his interaction with group members, and who tends to reduce anxiety and increase the personal adjustment of his co-workers,” (Hill, Walter. 1969, pg. 34) whereas a task-orientated person is characterised to be someone who “rejects those with whom he cannot work, and obtains need gratification and self-esteem from performance of the task. He is, therefore, concerned with performing the task and he is willing to relegate interpersonal relations to a secondary position” (Hill, Walter. 1969, pg. 35)

Exhibit I (Hill, Walter. 1969, pg. 36) above shows how relations-oriented and task-oriented people are determined, through leader-member relationships, leader position power and task structure. It does this by determining how well a person interacts with people (relations) and how dedicated they are to tasks. According to Hill (1969), this model is effective and further tests done corroborate with Fiedler’s findings, making it an accurate model. Hill noted that there are so many variables that sometimes it is difficult to calculate the exact leadership style that is appropriate for someone; however it is useful as it helps to assign leaders to specific tasks and delegate how efficient leadership should be achieved. In regards to Temasek, it should be established what “type” of leader Ching is, and the company would need to work with that before any leadership goals should be established.

Another common model is the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory (SLT). It is widely used in the business sector and was developed by Paul Hersey and Kenneth H. Blanchard. This model is based upon leaders adjusting their styles based on the maturity of their followers, which is indicated by the “readiness” (how able and willing or confident) of followers (Schmermerhorn, J. Et al. 2011). When maturity (psychologically and performance-wise) is reached, it means a reduction in support and guidance can occur, instilling a positive indication of trust and confidence. A manager must look at employees and evaluate how best to perform a certain task in a certain situation, and when the situation changes, the leadership style previously used may not be as successful in the new situation (Hambleton, Ronald K; Gumpert, Ray. 1982, pg 227).

Again, leadership styles are defined as relationship-orientated and task-orientated, however in this model leadership styles are classified into four groups: delegating, participating, selling and telling. This model is beneficial to companies as it has various different types of stages based on top of the classification of relations-orientated and task-orientated leadership (Figure 1). It breaks down the two types further, into the four types above, thus making it easier to classify. Again, however, variables come into play, and it can be seen from various research that the SLT model does have its limitations. Goodson (1989) states that when further studies have been conducted on this model, the main classifier of groups (“maturity” or competence) makes almost no difference to the leadership style of a person (Goodson, Jane R; McGee, Gail W; Cashman, James F. 1989, pg. 446).

Also, Goodson established that in these tests no actual measure of maturity and/or readiness was really possible when conducting research on the SLT model, making it difficult to say for certain whether the model can be effective. Furthermore, Blank (1990) makes further reference to the fact that there is little to no research supporting this model in his studies, saying that both basing the research on the main factor (maturity) as well as more complex methods, little support was found to corroborate with the main theorems of the model (Blank, Warren; Weitzel, John R; Green, Stephen G. 1990, pg. 579). false

3.0 Recommendations

In the case of Temasek Holdings, it can be said that adopting a new leadership approach will be entirely beneficial for the company. No information is given as to what current leadership styles are used, but the amount of criticism being received currently illustrates that a change is needed. Of the two leadership theories discussed, it can be said that both have negative and positive points, as with any business directive.

Fiedler’s model uses three determining factors: leader-member relationships, leader position power and task structure, to determine how a leadership style will work effectively. This is essentially beneficial to a business as it allows more than one factor to determine a leadership style, giving a more accurate description of what leadership style will fit a situation. This model was also corroborated with research conducted by Hill (1969) who conducted a study that demonstrated that Fiedler’s was almost always effective in the workplace. However, there were limitations in regards to variables. As every person is so different personality-wise there is a large number of variables, not all of which can be categorised. Because of this, some variables may be missed or excluded, but overall the final result does not change, making the model very effective.

The second theory, Hersey-Blanchard’s SLT, uses maturity as the basis of calculating how a leadership style will be effective. This could be effective to some extent, however both Goodson (1989) and Blank (1990) argue that just one determining factor is not enough to warrant an effective model. The model is beneficial as it breaks down leadership styles into four obvious categories; the problem is determining which personality fits into these categories. No clear measure of maturity is possible, making it difficult to categorise leadership styles. Goodson (1989) also states that maturity and competence has no real effect on leadership styles.

Looking at these results, it can be recommended that for Temasek Holdings to continue operating at a high level, the Fiedler model of contingency should be used as a model for assigning leadership tasks. Giving every leader in a business tasks based on their personality is advantageous as it means instead of the person working with something they are not specifically styled for, they are able to be fit with tasks that suit them. Overall, this will make a significant change both in employee satisfaction (workers are doing jobs that suit their personality style, thus making them more content) as well as production, as the leadership style they are assigned will work well for them. Models by Hill (1969) are further evidence that this model does indeed work, and that it can bring positive effects to Temasek in the future.

If Temasek Holdings chooses to operate within this leadership model, criticism for the way the business is run will be lessened. Both in the short and long term this form of leadership will be beneficial to the company, affecting both large positions (for example, the CEO Ho Ching) as well as smaller managers within the company. The research shows that this is the best model for Temasek to use to bring it the most success in the future.

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