How can you apply the Leader-Member Exchange Theory (LMX) to the "Cake Boss"? Then, thoughtfully respond to the following:
1. Identify situations where Buddy must influence the attitude and/or behavior of others (including both employees and customers). Briefly describe the characters and situations.
2. Now connect Buddy’s leadership style(s) to theories and concepts; for instance, he is more an Authoritarian leader, Democratic leader or a Laissez-Faire leadership style.
3. Consider and explain: Does he have any leadership traits that jump out? How, if at all, does he balance the task and relationship requirements of running a busy bakery?
Or, consider Leader-Member Exchange (LMX); is the leadership event a product of specific dyadic interactions between Buddy and each individual? As a charismatic figure, does transformational leadership appear to be a factor in his efforts to empower, motivate, and transform others?
4. Are Buddy’s skills and styles transferable? In other words, could Buddy be an effective leader in other contexts? Explain.
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One way in which Buddy must influence the attitude and the behavior of others is seen in the management of the kitchen. Buddy's cakes are not simplistic. They are projects that require different individuals to be responsible for different aspects of the operation. This is seen when Buddy confronts his team on the lack of communication. Buddy indicates to his staff that success in completion of the cake project is not going to be evident because "no one is communicating." When Buddy says, "Everyone wants to be me" and then thumps his chest, it is clear that Buddy's management style is to directly point out when problems arise. At the same time, the other chef in the kitchen, Mauro, makes clear to the team members that, "See people- when something goes wrong, we gotta hear him- Now is that what we want to do?" In this clip, Buddy clearly influences the attitude and behavior of those around him. He "directs traffic" and does so in an authoritarian manner. His approach is taken because he understands what has to be done in order to make the project successful. He speaks from an experienced point of view and runs his kitchen in a way where a top- down structure is clearly demonstrated.
Buddy's leadership style is authoritarian. He asserts this when he tells his staff, "Now, I gotta lose a guy for an hour to get the ingredients." The implication here is that had other staff members been open in their communication, Buddy would not be behind on his schedule. Buddy's leadership mode is to dictate to others how the project is to be completed. At the same time, it is clear that he gives orders and expects others to follow. He does allow the individual components to act in their own autonomy to complete their part, yet it is adhering to a design that Buddy has authored. Mauro points out this management style to Buddy, his brother in law: "You wanna be the boss, right? Everything's gotta go through you. If something goes wrong, it's the boss who gotta deal with things." Mauro's comment to Buddy, "the boss," indicates an authoritarian leadership structure where "everything's gotta go through" Buddy.
Buddy's passion and zeal are probably the leadership traits that jump out to the outside observer. Buddy is passionate about what he wants to do. He expects others to embrace this passion in how they operate and function: "I can't be a creme puff. Once in a while, I gotta step it up a notch." Buddy makes it clear that his leadership skills thrive from this intensity of emotion that he displays. Buddy is not going to hide his emotions behind protocol or some expectation of emotional distance. He lives on the emotional edge because he believes that's where his talents as a baker and leader of bakers lie. Certainly, he does hope that others working with him such as Mauro and the other chefs recognizes this and embrace it. Yet, Buddy does not apologize for how his emotions might be interpreted. It is this aspect of leadership that makes him so unique in what he does and how he does it.
Certainly, the leadership qualities that Buddy displays can be transferrable to other domains. In any venue that a leader requires others to "do their part" and uphold an expectation, Buddy's passion and intensity are transferrable. Leadership in a project setting, such as cake building, requires others to understand expectations and share in something larger. Buddy's emotional reference is something from which leadership can draw upon.
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