Organizational Leadership Reflection and Assessment

As a leader in any business, one should engage in reflective practice in order to inspire contemplation in others. Reflective practice is a set of skills and talents that indicate toward taking a stand, concentrating on issue resolution, or altering one's mental state. (2014) (Iszatt-White & Saunders) (Bass, 2008). Although every practitioner reflects on their professional work, reflective practice is a deliberate activity that takes time and dedication. (Iszatt-White, & Saunders., 2014) proposed that the capability of reflection on action in order to undertake a continuous learning process represented considerable defining characteristics of professional practice. Why is reflection about leadership important? Burns and Bass,(1978), (2008) examines two types of knowledge which professionals apply in practice; ‘technical rationality’ and ‘tacit knowledge’.

Technical rationality refers to when a leader applies theories that have been learned to find solutions to practical everyday problems. Frequently, this knowledge falls short when in situations where conditions in professional practice do not seem to be as they are outlined in the textbooks, with the prevailing of personal conflict and uncertainty. (Burns, 1978)

These are the situations refers to the difficult situations of leadership and professional practice. (Bass, 2008).. In these conditions, intuitive or tacit knowledge is used to solve problems. Using reflection to discover the swampy lowlands of professional practice can enable a leader to make sense out of the complex and uncertain situations encountered in leading organisations.

Discussions on the place of reflective practice in leadership propose that reflection is provides a means through which the professional can think about and apply self within the context of their own lived experiences in a manner which helps the leader in confronting, understanding as well as working towards solving the problems and ambiguities within leadership practice involving what is desired and actual practice. (Bass, 2008).

Because of the conflict of ambiguity and challenge, the commitment to understand desirable work while also appreciating why situations are as they are, the leader is empowered to act more appropriately in future situations. (Burns, 1978)

In the book on reflection and reflective practice, Burns prompt us to consider what he refers to as the ‘gap’. The ‘gap’ can be an awkward or difficult situation in which a leader does not know the answers but which may result in the asking of reflective questions, such as an intense and thorough assessment of exactly what resulted in to something so dramatically right, or what did not go right in a given catastrophe. (Burns, 1978). Burns sums up the benefits of reflection relating to leadership in organizations as enabling us to:

Examine one’s own decision-making processes

Develop constructive criticism of the relationship with professional colleagues

Analyze uncertainties as well as knowledge and skill gaps

Confront difficult and upsetting episodes

Recognize learning needs.

Often, it is easy for leaders and professionals to operate in professional isolation. Without contact from other professionals, reflection provides a means through which we may make sense of the experiences we have gone through, either with colleagues or other professionals. In reflection, one begins to draw out the facts about experiences, what these experiences reveal about one’s own skills, why such an experience probably occurred, what was done well and what might have been done differently or what would be done differently in future.

Models for practical reflection

Burns (1978), has been very influential in defining the way learning occurs. He proposes the ‘learning cycle, which approaches the concept of learning as experiential. This means learning by doing or through experience. Experiential learning is decidedly relevant to learning in leadership and Burns argues that ideas are not rigid, and are shaped and adapted through the experience a leader of an organization has as well as by their past encounters.

These ideas underpin the prevailing concepts in leadership as well as professional practice such as experience, education and training combined with the reflective leader who understands shifts such as from novice to expert and the related processes. (Burns, 1978).

These four elements of reflection in professional practice are reiterated as DO, REVIEW, LEARN and APPLY. (Burns, 1978).

Burns suggested that this learning cycle may begin from any of the four stages with learning occurring in a continuous cycle. (1978). Nevertheless, the process of learning is frequently motivated in practice by a leader performing a particular action and then observing the effects of such action in a given situation.

Vital to learning and development in leadership is the subsequent level, that of reflection and analysis. Without reflecting on experiences, a leader cannot achieve progress through the loop and will consequently not realize effective learning. An illustration of a practical action based experiential learning cycle is outlined:

Concrete experience – Action or doing something, such as in a critical incident or events which occur on a day-to-day basis

Reflection and study – Reviewing and think about why an event or incident occurs the way it does and how others do in similar situations.

Abstract perception - Learning from what occurs, incorporate it within one’s self, and decision to change behaviour and actions appropriately.

Dynamic experimentation – Application of what is learned together with ones ideas to varying contexts and situations then repeating the whole cycle again.

A Critical Reflection of My Own Experience of Leadership


This critical reflection focuses on my own experience of leadership where I examine and evaluate my short-term experience of employment during internship. I suggest areas for own development, learning, experience of leadership and reflection. I have used leadership theory and concepts in analysis and evaluation of the leadership process and managerial reflection that I am presenting. Leadership is a process which involves various evolving actions aimed at supporting the organization’s goals: It is also defined as a consistently demonstrating a standard of behavior so as to achieve certain objectives (Daft, 2011).

The leadership experience which the paper tackles is focused on my experience with Alex Cojanu, my previous manager, as well as the entire team at Cubitts, an optical chain dealing in hand made spectacles and sunglasses. My position in this previous job was as a graduate trainee under the Undergraduate Management, Human Resources Future Talent program. I considered it very interesting vital to use my experience with his leadership case because there are a number of very insightful aspects demonstrated in my previous supervisor’s leadership style as well as the team characteristics and business model at Cubitts King's Cross 97 Caledonian Road London. These significant and outstanding elements of leadership observed during my internship at Cubitts, Kings Road have enabled me to discover my own areas of development as well as my strengths and learning needs in relation to human resource management practice and cross-functional collaboration.

My own perception has been that my experience at Cubitts was a remarkable case of an observation of leadership in action where I was also involved, though not as leader. Founded in King's Cross, London by Tom Broughton, Cubitts is a newly emerging formidable challenger in the UK's optical merchandise market estimated to be worth £2Bn. Cubitt has three major competitors; Boots, Specsavers, and Vision Express, who collectively control slightly more than two thirds of this market. Cubitts top level strategy is to offer modestly priced, handcrafted eyewear and accessories all of which are custom made in classic British styles. Cubitts represents the application of three brothers’ work ethic and putting it into practice with entrepreneurship, leadership and organizational management. This has positioned Cubitts firmly as a heritage brand despite being a very young brand. Cubitts has five in U.K and has also expanded into U.S.

Critical Reflection: Analysis and Evaluation

The most outstanding aspect I noticed about Alex Cojanu’s leadership style was his absolute insistence on clear informative and constant communication. Cojanu is constantly driven by a concept he aptly refers to as engagement. During many of the instance when Cojanu can be found interacting with his team and delegating tasks as an approach to managing the myriad of responsibilities within the store, one can never fail to notice that he is always talking and listening in equal measure while carefully contemplating every thought, always asking questions, even if only to enquire about another employees wellbeing in genuinely concerned manner and generally communicating. This is what Cojanu calls engagement. He defines engagement as “simply talking and listening with purpose.

Alex Cojanu has the incredible ability to encourage even the most hardened of cynics to function beyond what can possibly be expected. In reflecting on his leadership styles, transformational leadership theory, that focuses on people’s interaction with colleagues as they establish solid collaborative relationships which lead to trust and intrinsic motivation in both followers and leaders and the followers. Cojanu’s insistence on Job autonomy in the team was unparalleled with very minimal space for supervision by supervisors. As a member of the team, I was as a result, able develop my commitment on the job because of ownership tasks as well as freedom and responsibility in the workplace. Greater job autonomy certainly leads to the development of expertise as people are motivated to prove their capabilities in the job with the atmosphere of responsibility and autonomous management enabling employees to value their jobs and prioritize both competent performance and collaboration.

Analysis and Evaluation of the Leadership of Jeff Bezos

The purpose of this paper was to analyze the leadership style of a business executive and the relationship of the said leadership style to the health of the organization. The paper evaluated the leadership of Jeff Bezos: the CEO of The paper determined what type of leader Jeff Bezos is in accordance with existing leadership theories and literature. The paper then analyzed the health of and how this relates to Jeff Bezos’ leadership style.

Uncovering Leadership Styles: An Analysis of Jeff Bezos and

Leadership plays a vital role in creating healthy sustainable organizations. Northhouse (2013) finds that an organization is impacted by a leader’s ability to determine steps and actions necessary to move the organization forward. Exploring the leadership of organizations can therefore, provide insight to why certain organizations thrive while others do not. As this paper explores the leadership style of Jeff Bezos: the founder, Chairman and CEO of, it will seek to marry his leadership to the wellbeing of the company and to draw valuable conclusions from the relationship. The next section will focus on the leadership style of Jeff Bezos and how it fits in with existing theories on leadership. This will be followed by an analysis of the health of according to various media sources. The paper will close by exploring the relationship between Jeff Bezos’ leadership style and the health of and establishing what conclusions can be drawn from the analyses.

Jeff Bezos’ Leadership Style

Bezos: a Transactional Leader

Jeff Bezos is a task oriented transactional leader. Stone (2013) describes Bezos as a micromanager with rigorous standards who is often uninterested in other people’s opinions. This could be termed as transactional leadership. According to Northhouse (2013) transactional leaders influence because it is in the best interest of subordinates to do what the leaders want. Transactional leaders are also termed to be quite effective in achieving operational goals and outcomes and creating businesses that thrive in the era of global competition (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin and Zhen, 2010).

Bezos: a Transformational Leader

In addition to Bezos’ transactional leadership qualities, the Amazon head can also be termed as a change agent who seeks to innovate. Qu, Janssen and Shi (2015) find that transformational leadership produces extraordinary results and delivers follower creativity. Transformational leaders are known to create a fascinating vision of the future, which gains the hearts, and minds of people (Djumalieva, Widlak and Sarkar-Barney, 2013). By linking their company’s long-term goal to their people’s values, transformational leaders arouse interest and commitment to act on the vision, driving team effort beyond ordinary possibilities (Howell and Avollio, 1993). Bezos undoubtedly grades high in this field. This can be seen from the growth of, which is arguably a result of his ability to envision, inspire, and innovate even when competitors and investors alike did not believe his creation could bring positive financial returns.

Bezos also values collaborative competence and is even stricter concerning what customers do not want. Even the slightest delay accessing a web page is a major issue at Amazon which Bezos will not take lightly. Bezos demonstrates a near obsessive focus on customer satisfaction. Bezos believes in, and actively demonstrates his strict customer focus through his seemingly unstoppable drive to eliminate even the smallest delay in customer service even if it means radical changes in processes. Bezos is additionally passionate and shows his commitment to creation of goodwill and exploring and implementing every approach that places the name of Amazon before every potential customer.

Health of

Work Environment

Amazon has a stressful work environment. Cook (2011) finds that Amazon is ranked as one of the most stressful and inflexible working environments in the high-tech world. Mahapatra (2013) further claims that Amazon has the second highest employee turnover of all Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, workers at Amazon have also cited the fact that Bezos often berates them and is highly opinionated, never losing a chance to inform those who challenge him that he is the CEO of the company (Stone, 2013). It could therefore be argued Bezos’ transactional style of leadership results in employees at Amazon not being satisfied about their working conditions.

Bezos frequently leaves an open seat at the conference table when in meetings with his teams and notify all those in attendance that they must regard that seat as being filled by the most important person in the meeting, their customer. Because this empty chair is the eventual person in charge at Amazon, Bezos is the ultimate enforcer, the custodian and protector of what this leader refers to as a culture of metrics which attempts to provide the non-living products a clear, clear and comprehensible voice.

At Amazon, the performance is tracked against many measurable goals. Almost 80% of these goals are related to customer goals. Some of Amazon’s staff have attempted to cut down out-of-stock products. Yet other employees compete in building bigger libraries of accessible merchandise. Aggressive discussions about which metrics to track and analyze is the way of life at Amazon because Bezos completely believes in management through information. _x0093_There is a very great level of challenging each other person to perform at Amazon as a result of the culture of metrics created by Bezos.

Company Growth’s shares are valuable and show a sign of positive growth. On January 13th 2015,’s shares were upgraded from ‘Neutral’ to ‘Buy’ by Citi Bank (Street Insider, 2015). This suggests that Wall Street’s investment consultants have a strong belief that will grow in the foreseeable future and the company is progressing positively. It should be noted that most share upgrades look at the top line and not the bottom line.

The company also reported a rise in consumers in the last quarter of 2014 as well as an increase in Prime Members. Xu (2015) reports that the company had 10 million new Prime members despite an increase in price and enjoyed a 25% increase in sales. Admirably, the company continues to grow in terms of revenues and customer base & reach, which may perhaps be due to the leadership and focus of Bezos. Despite the growth in revenues and sales& the financial perspective of Wall Street, Amazon has been suffering from losses for years now.Bensinger (2014) finds that Amazon reported a loss of $123 million despite an increase in revenue of 23%. Perhaps a careful analysis may establish that both the losses and the revenue and consumer growth are linked to the leadership style of Bezos.

Relationship between Jeff Bezos’ Leadership Style and Health of

Bezos’ transformational style of leadership has resulted in Amazon attaining the growth that it has achieved over the last two decades. The company went from being an online book store to becoming an online retail store that challenges on and offline competitors alike due to Bezos’ visionary focus and commitment (Stone, 2013). Indeed the hunger for change and innovation that he exhibits is a leadership quality that has resulted in massive revenues and sales for Amazon and a loyal customer base.

In spite of these recommendable efforts, Bezos’ transactional leadership qualities may have arguably resulted in a stressful working environment where employees do not feel well positioned to caution this extra ordinary leader about his unrealistic business expansion plans. Mangalindan (2014) attributes Amazon’s huge losses regardless of revenue and sales growth to the company’s hunger for expanding its already gargantuan portfolio. It is reasonable to assume that this is a direct result of Bezos’s will to expand by any means at a fast rate.


To sum up; Jeff Bezos is a task oriented, transactional and transformational leader. His leadership style has resulted in Amazon being a success story in terms of revenues, sales and stock price analysis yet lacking in being agood working environment and recording a profit on the bottom line. Perhaps, Bezos must slow down his transformational characteristics and allow Amazon to record profits before expanding it any further. Also, it may be beneficial to the company that Bezos tones down his transactional leadership qualities in an effort to make the environment friendlier and flexible. As part of his transactional leadership approach, he demands and expects his people to have absolute certainty concerning what they are saying. If they could endure an onslaught of questions, then they are considered to have selected the right metric. Bezos insists on a culture which requires employees to have better insight into the information they use for making decisions.


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