Azter Leadership: An Unsuccessful Model

Azter Leadership: An Unsuccessful Model

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Azter Leadership: An Unsuccessful Model

When leadership comes to mind, it comes with thoughts of shining knights, beacons of truth, and unflappable exemplars. As a child, everyone hears the fairy tales of leaders that are able to do battle with evil, alone, and rescue their cause from sure defeat; the media is saturated with stories such as these. However, leaders and leadership can and does come in different packages, sizes, and abilities. It is not always the case that a leader is the unsung hero of a cause and, in fact, this paper will show that sometimes the leader avoids the limelight focusing it on the cause and his followers. A basic understanding of leaders and leadership will be established and then a critique of a modern company will be explained. As this paper will show, just as we have great companies with strong leadership, we also have companies on the slide with no definitive direction or leadership.
Two fundamental things about leadership must be understood prior to critique a company. First, leadership is a trinity that relies on leaders, followers, and situational cues. Second, leadership, as a practice, has many aspects which can be learned; however, an equal, and an equally important, number of aspects cannot be learned. A superficial understanding of leadership would have us believe both that leaders simply exist and that they exist without training, knowledge, or extrinsic influence. However, a deeper and more thorough understanding must be had in order to fully examine the strengths and weaknesses of a company's leadership.
The trinity of leadership previously mentioned is described in Daft's textbook on leadership. He expresses that leadership cannot exist is a vacuum. Leaders must have followers to lead in a situation that requires a direction. And these followers and directions are often times not the same. This is illustrated when Daft (2005) says:
The central focus of research [is] the situation in which leadership occurred. The basic tenet of this focus [is] that behavior effective in some circumstances might be ineffective under different conditions. Thus, the effectiveness of leader behavior is contingent upon organizational situations. There is no one best way of leadership (p. 81).
Prior ideas about leadership dictated that there were hard and fast rules. As mentioned above, this cannot be the case due to a number of factors.

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The contingency approach to leadership expresses that the lowest common denominators of these factors are leaders, followers, and situations. These three factors are interrelated with each affecting and contributing to the others.
Leaders must recognize that they are but a part in the process of achieving goals. Without followers or a situation in which to lead, the leader plays no part. However, assuming that both followers and a situation await leadership, there are two major approaches to which the leader should subscribe. Task oriented leadership implies full commitment to the job at hand. Relationships are formed, structure is oriented, and followers are lead solely in the direction of completed task. People oriented leadership implies full commitment to those who must complete the job at hand. Work is delegated and employers are focused in the direction of employee satisfaction; those that feel well, work well.
Followers must also recognize that they are part of the process and, as Daft explains, the best leaders often make the best followers. As leaders must be receptive to the followers and situation, so to must the followers be receptive. Daft explains this dichotomy when he writes:
The nature of leader-follower relationships involves reciprocity, the mutual exchange of influence. Many of the qualities that are desirable in a leader are the same qualities possessed by an effective follower. Both leader and follower roles are proactive; together they can achieve a shared vision (p. 256).
This reciprocity often involves the following group knowing its limitations. A cohesive, mature group will be able to achieve more together than an alienated, immature group. As mentioned in class, a bunch of superstars put together is a group while a bunch of average stars working together is a team (R. Robinson, Lecture, 2004). The group must recognize their weaknesses be they alienation from not previously working together, or immaturity from not having a depth of understanding of the task at hand.
Finally, the situation is a part of the process that no one can predict. Business models can forecast and attempt to calculate trends which make the situation easier to predict; however, the dynamic nature of both the leader and followers and the situation greatly diminish the effectiveness of forecasts. The very idea that situations are dynamic makes for a more difficult attempt at leadership. The dichotomy of leader and followers must adapt to changing situations such as differing work environments, tasks, and system structures. Thus, leaders, followers, and situations must coexist, adapt, and interconnect. With an adequate balance of these three factors, leadership can exist and flourish.
The second fundamental of leadership is that it is derived from aspects that both can be learned and cannot be learned. The greatest of the aspects that cannot be learned is charisma. As Daft expresses, charisma is difficult to define; however, the text explains it as thus:
[Charisma] is the ability to inspire and motivate people to do more than they would normally do, despite obstacles and personal sacrifice. They have an emotional impact on people because they appeal to both the heart and the mind (p. 149).
Charismatic leaders are a sort of enhanced leader. Both can make their followers do things whether they want to or not; however, charismatic leader make their followers do things regardless of personal pain and sacrifice. They appeal to an intrinsic aspect that will not allow the followers to fail. Charismatic leadership is an aspect that cannot be learned, and it is an aspect that very few leaders have. Great leaders are not necessarily charismatic, but charismatic leaders are usually great.
As the previous section would suggest, leadership is a dynamic field that involves more than just the leader. The entertainment industry, and particularly the casino business, is the focus of our group project. The focus of this paper is a leadership analysis of an unsuccessful company. Our unsuccessful company is the Aztar Corporation which owns casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Las Vegas, Nevada, but more particularly in Caruthersville, Missouri. This information could potentially be used more readily because of its smaller scale.
Aztar's casino in Caruthersville is a showboat operating on the Mississippi near downtown Caruthersville, Missouri. Caruthersville is located in the boot heel of Missouri near a major road system linking St Louis and Memphis. According to its website, the showboat has a capacity of 800 and offers slot machines and table games. A spacious pavilion provides ticketing and pre-boarding facilities, including a restaurant, sports lounge, snack bar, and other amenities ( Aztar's casino serves the local markets of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Two major issues arise when discussing the aspects of Aztar's casino in Caruthersville: the issue of moral leadership and the issue of leadership style. Particularly in the gaming industry is a discussion about moral leadership applicable. Also applicable is a discussion about leadership style, task vs. people orientation.
First, moral leadership is applicable because of the industry in which we are studying. The gaming industry has long been viewed as an industry in which immorality can thrive. Movies such as "Casino" and "Bugsy" perpetuate the idea that the majority of Las Vegas gaming facilities are run by organized crime syndicates. These are leader questions that must be addressed. Similarly, questions must be addressed concerning the follower aspect of leadership. What type of role do followers play in the gaming industry and whose responsibility is it to provide for the various addictions that could be potentially tied to gaming? Finally, situational questions must be addressed, such as in what types of environments do gaming facilities thrive? The idea of moral leadership in regards to the gaming industry is a necessary venture.
Daft explains the idea of moral leadership in his textbook. He mentions the idea of knowing the difference between right and wrong when he says:
Moral leadership is about distinguishing right from wrong and doing right, seeking the just, the honest, the good, and the right conduct in its practice. Moral Leadership gives life to others and enhances the lives of others. It uplifts people, enabling them to be better than they were without the leader (p. 222)
This idea can be extrapolated to all aspects of the leadership environment. Leaders must seek out and commit to doing right for the gaming customers. However, the followers must also commit to doing right by recognizing their potential for succumbing to addictions they cannot control. This idea has a give and take relationship which, as we will see, lends itself neatly to people oriented leadership styles.
The second major issue with which Aztar's casino in Caruthersville must contend is the leadership style which they employ. As mentioned above, people oriented leadership seems to apply heavily. The followers are on a level of maturity that simply surpasses that of unknowledgeable workers. They are on the floor of the gaming facility, directly interacting with customers. What better way to illustrate the idea of dealing with customers personally and effectively than to deal with each other personally and effectively. They are on the floor also seeing first hand the needs of the customers. Delegation of tasks relying heavily on the shared vision of the facility is more than appropriate.
The information about Aztar's casino in Caruthersville is limited; however, the general ideas about leadership and the gaming industry are plentiful. People oriented leadership is a vital tool within the gaming industry and moral leadership is something to which all should strive. Particularly in the gaming industry is this idea important as the potential of immoral acts and leadership abound. As the Aztar group grows, not only in Missouri but also in Nevada and New Jersey, we will see if it subscribes to any of these ideas.


Daft, R. (2005). The leadership experience. Mason: Southwestern Thomson.
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