January 10th, 2018
Xerox case study – leadership – Abraham Lincoln
Anne Mulcahy is relatively knowledgeable about Xerox culture and business. She had been with Xerox for more than two decades. Although Mulcahy did not join Xerox out of reverence, her hard work and decisiveness had seen her rise through the entity’s ranks. Additionally, she had worked in different departments including sales and human resources. She had travelled extensively and in the process learned the value that Xerox’s foreign operations brought to the firm. Mulcahy’s role in managing sales had acquainted her with team-building skills. By running GMO, Mulcahy honed her management skills to lead at higher levels of responsibility. Yet, leading Xerox presented unique challenges.
On Mulcahy’s appointment, Xerox was in a failed-transformation status. Her predecessor, Thoman, had attempted to build a service business that was significantly different from Xerox’s traditional approach. In the process, Thoman had disrupted long-standing customer relationships and it became increasingly difficult for sales team to secure new business. Subsequently, Xerox’s revenue declined rapidly and its credit rating was bottom-low as investor confidence diminished. Neither investors nor creditors were willing to support Xerox’s re-invention. Customers were also less willing to give Xerox business; better options were available in the market following increased competition. Xerox thus needed a leader who could inspire appropriate response from all these fronts – customers, employees, investors and creditors. Yet, by going to run GMO, Mulcahy had become distant to the core business that Xerox engaged in. She thus was not fully aware of the challenges she was facing in leading Xerox.
To help Mulcahy adapt to challenges facing Xerox, Paul Allaire, the predecessor to Thoman was to resume the CEO position temporarily. Mulcahy was to chart a new strategy and oversee the operations to implement such a strategy. Paul Allaire’s leadership approach was different from Mulcahy’s approach. He had achieved short-term success by restructuring Xerox, reducing its divisions in a period that it faced aggressive competition in the U.S. market. Mulcahy, as part of Thoman’s executive leadership team, had assumed a different strategy – expanding Xerox by creating a distinct entity. On her appointment, Mulcahy faced a different environment from the one she had in running GMO. Xerox was facing a severe liquidity challenge hence an expansion strategy was not viable. Frequent changes in strategy due to changes in leadership also disoriented Xerox employees from the entity’s vision. Mulcahy thus needed to inspire the employees to remain motivated and committed to achieving Xerox’s goals. Go to the concluding part here.