Leading employees in the automotive industry during an economic crisis.
The global economic crisis in 2008 has been extremely challenging for most organizations. It has forced organizations to reassess all aspects of its business, including the leadership styles of its management structure. Leadership is a highly valued commodity and people are an organization’s most valuable asset. The purpose of this study is to ascertain if managers should adopt a specific leadership style to manage employees during an economic crisis. A systematic literature review of industry and management responses to the crisis, as well as various leadership theories was completed. Data, for this study, was drawn from a web based questionnaire, with a sample of 125 employees in two automotive suppliers, situated in Durban, South Africa. The study demonstrates that it is not necessary for leaders to change their leadership styles to lead their employees through an economic crisis. It is evident that the specific actions taken to address employees’ anxiety are of more importance than their leadership style. Management should not forget the “soft management issues” during an economic crisis and also focus on employees’ wellbeing.