This essay critically reflects on my experience in Lotus Hut when I was working at Lotus Hut as a store manager. During my employment, I was tested in a situation where it was my duty to practice ethical leadership despite this I failed in applying ethical leadership. Two men in the coffee house were waiting for a business meeting. They did not purchase anything while waiting at the coffeehouse for the businessmen. I being notified by one of the workers who asked the fellowmen to give an order but he refused stating that we are waiting here for someone. The worker reported me that the two of the fellowmen are in the coffee house for a long period but they did not order anything till now and it seems like they are going to wait for another two hours. Listening to the worker, I decided to go and analyze the situation myself. This essay highlights my leadership action along with the theories of power and influence tactics used to ensure that the coffee house as a fair environment culture. It also identifies how I failed in creating a good environment for all at the store. This essay highlights how through different approaches I could have inspired my staff members for creating a good culture and environment at the house.
The two people were waiting at the coffee store for a long time when asked why they were waiting there. They said they are waiting for someone. But the staff member of the coffee house was suspicious about the men's as to what they are doing or planning while sitting there. They immediately notified me of the situation. I went and asked them to leave the premise then only which they refused to do so. I again asked them to leave the store and even stated that if they both do not, I may have to call the police. The men refused to leave following which I called the police. The men were arrested and taken to the police station. One of the patrons sitting at the coffeehouse captured the entire incident on the phone. She quickly shared the video on various social media sites and it got viral, in the video, she stated that she was also sitting at the coffee house for a while. She did not even order anything but was not forced to leave the coffee house like the men. The general public sitting there who witnessed the complete incident stated that the coffee house follows discrimination and racism. I feel I should have used my power and leadership style correctly (Engelbrecht, Heine & Mahembe, 2017). I should have analyzed the situation fist and then should have taken the decision.
Hersey Blanchard developed situational leadership theory because they used to believe that no leadership style can best suit all the situations. Some situations are needed to be handled according to the present situation. The leadership style adopted by the person analyzing the situation is the best kind of leadership style. A leader can take the decisions of commanding, persuading, delegating, participating and so on (Huang & Paterson, 2017). A similar leadership experience I faced in the Lotus Hut. I got into a situation where I did not analyse the repercussions of my actions. I did not even analyse the seriousness of the situation. I casually asked the black men to leave the coffee house when they refused I called the police for the arrest. I should have let them sit there as long as they want, or should have asked them the reason for their wait or should have asked them to place an order while they were waiting. If I asked the black men to leave, I should have done the same with the female who was also sitting for a while without any order. Had I analysed the situation better before acting in haste, it would not raise the racism issue which was the biggest concern for the organization.
There was no policy of the Lotus Hut to ask its customers to leave. The decision to ask the customer to leave was in the hands of the store manager. Being the store manager of the Melbourne coffee house. I had the flexibility to change the rules as per the situation. I thought if I would not ask the black men to leave very soon the entire coffee house would become a community hub where people will come sit, enjoy the ambience and would not even spend money. I was thinking from that perspective and did not pay attention to discrimination and racism. But due to viral video customers took it otherwise. The sale of the coffee house decreased. The frequency of the customer visiting the coffee house decreased (Bavik, Tang, Shao & Lam, 2018). It is because Lotus Hut always works on creating an environment which is both safe and welcomes everyone. The decision which I took was opposite to the company's vision and mission statement. I realized my mistake of using power in the wrong practice. I failed in situational leadership style as a result all the workers also learnt illegal ethical practice.
To turn things again downside up I began working on creating a pleasant environment (Kuenzi, Mayer & Greenbaum, 2020). I apologized to the customers for my mistake and tried to assure them that similar practice would not be repeated in future. I even declared them that the store will learn from the situation. I will meet the stakeholders and try to find out their issues so that I can resolve it for them. I know after the incident Lotus Hut customers were hurt this is why I conducted a thorough analysis of the incident. When the black men were released I asked to help in identifying what needs to be done differently. I made an official announcement later to close the store for 3 weeks to conduct an unconscious bias training not only for myself but for all the staff members who came and influenced me to take such an unethical leadership. After committing the mistake, I announced the release of the use of third space policy in the store. The policy states that anyone can come and use the facilities at Lotus Hut without making any purchase (Walumbwa, Hartnell & Misati, 2017). It also states how a manager would deal with the customer if he or she founds to be disruptive for the coffee shop.
I realized I should not have been influenced by the waiter staff. I did not give them a good example of leadership because I was ethically wrong. I should not have done any sort of discrimination as it was my duty to create a safe and sound environment for all the customer who visits the coffee shop to enjoy coffee and get the aromatic smell of the coffee beans. I haven’t created any policy before stating that people who do not want to order cannot sit and enjoy the ambience. Despite I called the police to arrest, this was not fair. I had the power of taking decisions for the coffee house but does not have the decision to put fellowmen behind the bar just for sitting at the coffeehouse without placing an order (Munduate & Medina, 2017). I realized that it is important to influence the staff members by using positive attitude so that they can adapt to the new change that is of the creation of coffeehouse as a hub for the community to enjoy coffee and spend time in the era for as long as the coffee shop does not close its operations for the day. I influenced the staff members through rational persuasion. It is an attempt to make sure that the staff understands that the decisions should be taken for the growth and success of the organization.
After witnessing the incident, many of the worker’s motivation declined. They started thinking that the company would never be able to gain momentum again. Customers would no more come here for having coffee. They even thought it would best to find some other job rather than continuing in the same as with the increase in the losses, the super boss may close the branch. I motivated them by ensuring that the branch would not get closed and their salaries would not be impacted because of the past experiences. I assured them the need is to create a policy in which every customer is treated with respect and dignity (Barker, 2018). We need to work on creating a good environment at Lotus Hut. The sales will increase and people would again start visiting the store. The only concern is we need to stick to the learnings of the training period and put all our attention on achieving the goals defined. I knew that if the employees are satisfied they are likely to perform better and thus I tried to motivate them so that they provide exceptional services to the customers. I introduced some goals for the staff members to achieve but was little worried as well whether they would be able to achieve the goals set or not.
I should have analyzed the situation beforehand and should not have taken any decision in haste. I being the manager of the coffee house must inspire the staff members. Committing mistake, myself in the influence of waiter was a wrong practice. As soon as I understood I changed everything. I hired trainers who would help me and my staff members to take a correct decision in case of similar situations. It would help me and staff members to develop the powers for attracting the customers to the services of the coffee shop. I learnt a lot of things through the leadership experience like we often think that we are correct but sometimes we fail because we are unable to analyze the situation properly. I did not intend to support discrimination however the actions taken did illustrate otherwise. I, now, understand that discrimination is a wrongful act of selecting an individual not on the basis of merits but based on prejudice (Ko, Ma, Bartnik, Haney & Kang, 2018).
This incident also helped me understand the behaviour of the customer and what they are looking for. I realized that sometimes they do not want coffee but a place where they can conduct meetings with others. This is why, soon after gaining the training, I changed the structure of the coffee shop little bit so that people can come to enjoy their cup of coffee with the colleagues, friends or relatives or maybe just enjoy the aroma of the coffee and have a place to conduct their work. I inspired my staff members through my character by nurturing my spirit. I aligned this with the mission of the store which states one cup, one person and a neighbourhood at the same time. My ethical leadership practice started after the incident. I asked all the staff members to create a community where the decisions would be made based on the values and moral standard (Kia, Halvorsen & Bartram, 2019). When I apologized to the black men and customer for asking them to leave or getting them arrested. This decision helped me in encouraging ethical conduct in the organization. I even started showing discipline in my role as I deicided to make the happiness of the customers my priority. I even clarified the culture of the Lotus Hut that is to welcome and treat everyone equally.
It can be concluded from the reflection that leadership style possessed by me was not up to the mark initially, but after the incident, I started analyzing the situation for being the change in the organization so that the coffee house attracts the maximum customers. I started paying more attention to how to create a pleasant environment in the coffee house for all the people visiting it without any discrimination. I along with my staff members took training from the professionals to make the correct ethical decision in situations where it is very difficult to find out which actions to be taken. If I would have been more careful before getting the men arrested, the outcome of the entire incident would have been different. The negative result would have been converted into a positive one. I should have consulted the head of the store and analyzed the negative consequence of the decision which I was about to take. It would have helped me in displaying a positive leadership style in the organization.
Barker, E. (2018). Using Leadership and Motivational Theory to Support the Development of Leadership Competencies of The Ontario Leadership Framework. Retrieved from https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/handle/1974/24275.
Bavik, Y. L., Tang, P. M., Shao, R., & Lam, L. W. (2018). Ethical leadership and employee knowledge sharing: Exploring dual-mediation paths. The Leadership Quarterly, 29(2), 322-332.
Bedi, A., Alpaslan, C. M., & Green, S. (2016). A meta-analytic review of ethical leadership outcomes and moderators. Journal of Business Ethics, 139(3), 517-536.
Engelbrecht, A. S., Heine, G., & Mahembe, B. (2017). Integrity, ethical leadership, trust and work engagement. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 38(3), 368-379.
Huang, L., & Paterson, T. A. (2017). Group ethical voice: Influence of ethical leadership and impact on ethical performance. Journal of Management, 43(4), 1157-1184.
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Ko, C., Ma, J., Bartnik, R., Haney, M. H., & Kang, M. (2018). Ethical leadership: An integrative review and future research agenda. Ethics & Behavior, 28(2), 104-132.
Kuenzi, M., Mayer, D. M., & Greenbaum, R. L. (2020). Creating an ethical organizational environment: The relationship between ethical leadership, ethical organizational climate, and unethical behavior. Personnel Psychology, 73(1), 43-71.
Munduate, L., & Medina, F. J. (2017). 10 How Does Power Affect Those Who Have It and Those Who Don’t? Power Inside Organizations. An introduction to work and organizational psychology: An international perspective, 176.
Walumbwa, F. O., Hartnell, C. A., & Misati, E. (2017). Does ethical leadership enhance group learning behavior? Examining the mediating influence of group ethical conduct, justice climate, and peer justice. Journal of Business Research, 72, 14-23.
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