Anne Mulcahy Leadership Style Research Paper

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At the turn of the 21st century, Anne Mulcahy was recognized as a strong leader with good organizational skills. She quickly proved just how capable she was when, after being appointed CEO of Xerox in 2001, she implemented a “strategy of relentless cost-cutting, organizational focus, and boosted innovation” (Manville, 2016). I selected Mulcahy because of her recognition in 2008 as CEO of the year by Chief Executive magazine, because of her strong commitment to innovation through research and development (Donlon, 2008), which is one of the best ways that leaders can overcome challenges (Schermerhorn & Uhl-Bien, 2014). Most importantly I picked Mulcahy because she was able to save Xerox from going over the edge and drowning in a sea of debts. For nearly a decade, Mulcahy held the CEO position at Xerox. In 2009, she retired from the firm. This paper will discuss her leadership style and leadership attributes that can be effective in today’s business environment.

The leadership theory that best describes Mulcahy’s approach to leading people is authentic leadership theory, which posits that leaders who are honest, open, “real,” and trustworthy can have the most positive impact on an organization. For Mulcahy, her character and experience were two of her biggest assets. Prior to being welcomed in as CEO at Xerox, she had headed the company’s HR department—not exactly a place where CEOs are groomed. However, because of her integrity, organizational skills, and openness, she attracted the right kind of following and the Board at Xerox recognized in her the leadership skills that the company needed in order to survive its flirtation with bankruptcy.

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Mulcahy’s greatest career achievement was saving Xerox from bankruptcy by selling off non-core assets to make the company’s debt serviceable and committing the company long term to R&D so as to stay competitive in the market. She was able to substantially cut costs and revitalize Xerox over the course of tenure as CEO. She did this, as Vollmer (2004) notes, by adopting a “back to basics” approach and emphasizing operational efficiency: “the company cut its capital expenditures by 50 percent; reduced its sales, general, and administrative expenses by one-third; and slashed its total debt in half. All the while, Xerox strengthened its core business by maintaining an organization-wide focus on innovation.”

A significant career challenge that Mulcahy faced was immediately when she assumed the position of CEO at Xerox in 2001. The stock price of the company dropped by 15% indicating that the market had little confidence in her selection: thus, she not only had to help to turn around the company, she also had to show investors that she was the best pick for the….....

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Donlon, J. (2008). The x-factor. Retrieved from

Manville, B. (2016). How a stint in ‘deaad-end HR’ made Anne Mulcahy a better CEO. Retrieved from

Schermerhorn, J., & Uhl-Bien, M. (2014). Organizational behavior (13th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Vollmer, L. (2004). Anne Mulcahy: The keys to turnaround at Xerox. Retrieved from

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