Leadership and Mattel

It is one of those words which is ceaselessly debated and typically elicits a spectrum of individual opinions; from describing personality attributes, position characteristics, or even behavior. Depending on the circumstances, a leader impacts and influences organizational effectiveness (Bonn, 2003). Employees place their faith and trust in their leaders capabilities, expecting the leader to provide: * A compelling vision of where the organization is going, Consistency in pursuing and achieving goals, * Clear, concise communication, * Team building, and * A solid track record of performance accomplishments (Bonn, 2003).

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Such is the leadership at Matter Incorporated, which has the ability to develop and communicate a compelling picture of the future, and inspires and motivates employees worldwide to achieve the company’s vision of being “The World’s Premier Toy Brands, Today and Tomorrow. ” This paper will discuss how the leaders at Matter align themselves with Mantel’s core values, exhibit leadership competencies and drive for success in their business strategies (Matter, 2010). Overview The world’s largest toy company, Matter, Inc. Designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes a wide variety of toy products in 150 countries.

The company’s products include a number of toy lines, including Barbie dolls, clothing, and accessories; Hot Wheels toy die-cast vehicles; Warner Brothers merchandise, including Harry Potter, Batman, Superman, and Loony Tunes products; The American Girls Collection of books, dolls, clothing, and accessories; Fisher-Price infant and preschool toys, including Little People figures and playacts; toys based on various licensed characters from sources such as Disney and Sesame Street; and games such as Scrabble and NUN.

The company’s toys are produced in company-owned manufacturing facilities in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Thailand, as well as through independent contractors located in the United States, Europe, Mexico, the Far East, and Australia. Headquartered in El Segundo, California, Matter employs approximately 29,000 people in 43 countries and territories and ended the year 2009 with an operating income of $731. 2 million dollars (Matter, 2009). History The Matter Company traces its beginnings to 1 945, when the business began operating out of a garage workshop.

The original founders were Harold “Matt” Matson, Elliot Handler and Ruth Handler, who formed the name “Matter” by combining letters of their names. The first Matter products were picture frames, but Elliot developed a side business in doll house furniture, made from picture Ramee scraps. Matson soon sold out to his partners, and Elliot and his wife, Ruth, steadily expanded Mantel’s product line. Encouraged by the success of the doll furniture, they turned the company’s emphasis to toys (Handler, 2007). The demographics of a baby boom, plus a virtual toy less marketplace immediately after World War II gave the Handlers a unique opportunity.

Eventually breaking away from producing doll furniture, the Matter Company introduced the Eke-A-Doodle; a child-size ukulele. The Eke-A-Doodle was an immediate success and drew large orders. In 1948 the Handlers introduced another hit; a new all plastic piano with raised black keys (Matter, 2004). The company incorporated in the state of California in 1948. At the same time the Handlers and an outside inventor began developing a music box employing a unique mechanism. The music box had a patented mechanism which had continuous play value because it operated only when the child turned the crank.

It was different, it was well-made, and because Matter could mass produce it, the price was lower than the imports. The success of the music box taught the Handlers a few lessons. First, they discovered child participation was essential for NY quality toy; children should be able to interact with a toy and want to play with it often and for extended periods of time. Second, the Handlers recognized a toy with lasting appeal is preferable to short-lived faddish products, and served as a basis for other toys to follow (Matter, 2004).

In 1955 Matter introduced the Burp Gun, an automatic cap gun based on a patented mechanism. The Handlers also decided to take a gamble, which helped change the toy business forever. In what seemed a risky venture, the Handlers agreed to buy 52 weeks of advertising on the new “Mackey Mouse Club” television show; marking the first time toys had en advertised on a year-round basis. Up until this time, toy manufacturers relied primarily on retailers to show and sell their products, and advertising occurred only during the holiday season.

With television, toys could be marketed directly to children throughout the country (Matter, 2004). In 1 957 the company introduced toy replicas of classic western guns and holsters which reflected the offs popularity of western-themed television shows like “Bonanza” and “Gunrooms” (Handler, 2007). Then, in 1959 Matter made toy history with the introduction of the Barbie doll. Ruth Handler became convinced, from watching err daughter, Barbara, play with paper dolls, that girls use dolls to act out future, rather than current roles.

The Handlers designed a teenage fashion model doll and introduced her at the 1959 toy fair in New York City; which propelled Matter into the national spotlight. Barbie, the famed doll named after the Handlers’ own daughter Barbara, soon prompted the founding of official fan clubs across the United States. In 1961 the company provided Barbie with a boyfriend, the Ken doll (Matter, 2004). After the phenomenal success of Barbie, Matter entered the competitive large doll market in 1960 with another winner, Chatty Cathy, the iris talking doll.

During the same year Matter made its first public stock offering, and by 1963 its common stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Throughout the sass the company continued to introduce popular toys such as Baby First Step, the first doll to walk by itself; See ‘N Say talking educational toys; Hot Wheels miniature model cars; and an entire line of Thinker activity toys, including Creepy Crawlers, Fund Flowers, Fright Factory and Incredible Edibles. In 1968, the company reincorporated in Delaware, and by the end of the decade it was the world’s number one toy maker (Matter, 2004).

Disaster struck in 1970 when the plant in Mexico was destroyed by fire; and the following year a shipyard strike in the Far East cut off its toy supplies. To maintain an image of growth, Seymour Rosenberg, executive vice-president and chief financial officer, fixed the books, and Matter issued false and misleading financial reports during the years of 1972 and 1973. In 1973 the company reported a $32 million loss, just three weeks after stockholders had been assured the company was in good financial condition. Mantel’s stock fell and the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) stepped in to investigate.

Charges were filed by the SEC and Ruth Handler and Seymour Rosenberg pleaded no contest to the charges made against them and the company. In 1974 Rosenberg was fired from Matter and the banks pressured Ruth Handler to resign. In addition, the court fined Ruth Handler and Rosenberg each $57,000 and gave them 41 year jail sentences; which were suspended on the condition they both perform 500 hours of charitable work annually for five years. In 1980, Elliot and Ruth Handler cashed in most of their Matter stock; ending their involvement in the company they had founded (Matter, 2004).

By the mid 197(Yes Matter was under new management. Arthur Spear, a Matter vice-president replaced the Handlers and tried to tap into electronic games, but the adventure failed. Matter stumbled badly for much of the sass, and Matter might have gone bankrupt if New York venture capital firms E. M. Warbler, Pinups ; Co. , and Drexel Burnham Lambert had not stepped in with $231 million in 1984 to save the company from the electronic game failure. It was also during this time that Spears resigned as chairman of Matter (Matter, 2004). The company took a dramatic upswing when John Merman joined the company in 1980.

In his new role, Merman moved quickly o cut Mantel’s overhead, by closing 40 percent of the company’s manufacturing capacity; including plants in California, Taiwan, and the Philippines. He slashed 1 50 employees at Mantel’s corporate headquarters in California, saving an estimated $30 million annually. Matter also refinanced high-cost debt and curbed advertising costs. Merman turned the company around by focusing on core brand names with staying power, such as Barbie and Hot Wheels, and by making selective investments in the development of new toys (Matter, 2004).

A strengthened strategic alliance with Walt Disney Company allowed Matter to pompons attractions and to develop and sell toys at three Disney theme parks. The agreement gave Matter exposure to millions of children and adults who visited the parks each year. Matter also negotiated the exclusive rights to sell dolls, stuffed characters, and preschool toys based on Disney movie characters, such as those from Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Beyond Disney, Matter also reached an agreement with Hanna-Barbara to market toys based on the cartoon characters Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo, Cindy Bear, and the Flintiness.

Turner Broadcasting allowed Matter to develop and sell Tom and Jerry products. A push into the game market led Matter to acquire International Games, Inc. In 1992; the producer of such profitable core franchises as the NUN and Skip-Bob card games (Matter, 2004). In 1993 the company embarked on the landmark acquisition of Fisher-Price, Inc. , the world’s leading maker of toys for infants and preschoolers. In 1994, the purchase of the British company JAW Spear gave Matter the international rights to the word game Scrabble.

In 1995 Matter became the new licensee of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, a top-notch addition to the company’s large dolls line. Also in 1995, Matter approached Hasher about a possible merger of the two largest toy companies in the world. Negotiations took place in secret over the COUrse of several months, until the Hasher board early in 1996 unanimously turned down a $5. 2 billion merger proposal (Matter, 2004). In 1997, Matter initiated the acquisition of another major player in the toy industry, Tycoon Toys, Inc. , the third largest toy manufacturer in the United States.

The merger of Tycoon into Mantel’s lineup made Matter the unparalleled leader of the industry. Taco’s successful products, such as Sesame Street brand toys and TTS radio-controlled and electric race cars, bolstered Mantel’s infant and preschool lines, as well as its boys’ toy lines. As the decade came to a close John Merman, who had turned Matter away from slumping sales and mismanagement, retired as Mantel’s chairman of the board after 17 years. The reins were turned over to Jill Bard, who had been promoted to CEO earlier in the year.

At the time of her appointment, Bard was one of only two women running a Fortune 500 company (Matter, 2004). Still on the prowl for acquisitions, Matter completed a $715 million purchase of Pleasant Company in July 1998. Pleasant Company, he Wisconsin-based maker and direct marketer of the popular American Girl Brand, manufactures books, dolls, clothing, accessories, and the American Girl magazine. The acquisition of Pleasant Company brought together the world’s two largest girls’ toy brands, Barbie and American Girl, and proved to be highly successful.

However, the next acquisition turned into a disaster. In May 1999, Matter took over the Learning Company in a $3. 5 billion deal. The Learning Company produced interactive software for computer games and activities. The idea was to evolve Matter into a family products company, but this idea soon ailed, and in 2000 the Learning Company was dropped and Jill Bard resigned (Matter, 2004). In May 2000, Robert Cocker was named chairman and CEO of Matter. Cocker had been the head of Philip Morris Companies Nines Kraft Foods unit.

Cocker took a conservative approach to running Matter, concentrating more on returning the firm to profitability, than on seeking huge new blockbuster toys which would increase revenues. In 2003, the company consolidated its girls and boys entertainment business units into one division, and renamed it Matter Brands. In 2007, Matter voluntarily recalled nine million of its toys. The 7. 3 million play sets and 1. 5 million die cast cars, all made in China, either contained lead paint or small, powerful magnets which could be swallowed, causing intestinal damage and other injuries (Matter, 2004).

Matter is a unique company, and has changed the world in the area of children’s toys. It has had many ups and downs in its 65 years of existence. With the changes in the economy, competitors, and changing trends, it has tried to re- evaluate its strategies and has made many strides to keep up with the current changes. In the future, Matter will face challenges involving the rate at which hillier are growing up and moving away from toys, along with the ever changing technology present in the world.

Cue rent Situation For more than six decades, Matter toys have been bringing joy to the lives of children. Parents and grandparents who grew up playing with Matter toys are now introducing their children and grandchildren to the world of Matter. Matter also has grown and changed, however one thing remains constant; the company’s commitment to creating safe, high quality and innovative toys in a responsible and ethical manner. Matter products touch the lives of millions of children every day. The company cares about children, because they are a company for children.

Matter recognizes maintaining industry leadership requires forward thinking and strong individual leadership in all areas of the organization (Citizenship, 2007). This commitment is evident in the product testing and reviews which are an integral part of Mantel’s design, development, manufacturing and distribution process. In an industry already governed by legislative and voluntary safety standards, Matter is setting the pace with additional, self-imposed measures to protect the health and safety of children as they play with toys.

All Matter toys are designed to meet or exceed the safety standards established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CAPS) and its counterparts in Canada, Europe and every market where Matter toys are distributed and sold. Matter strives to ensure promotional activities; including advertising, packaging and promotional programs are conducted in a manner consistent with applicable laws and the company’s values of honesty and integrity (Citizenship, 2007). Mantel’s Corporate Responsibility Mission is to positively impact “our people, our products and our planet by playing responsibly.

This commitment echoes in Mantel’s actions and throughout the company’s values as they: * Play Fair by continually encouraging the Matter organization to align decision-making with the company’s values, Play Together by working with employees, partners, vendors and regulators to bring the world safe toys, grown-ups trust and children love, * Play to Grow by committing to a sustainable future through efforts to work smarter and reduce the impact on the environment, * Play with Passion by volunteering in communities and helping undeserved children experience the joy of play (Matter, 2010).

Headquartered in El Segundo, California, Matter has operations in 43 countries and territories, employs approximately 29,000 people, and sells products in more than 150 nations around the world. Products are sold primarily through retailers, except for the American Girl brand, which is sold directly to consumers through retail stores, catalogues and online. Matter Inc. Is a publicly traded Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol “MAT. The company is also listed on the Footstool and Domino 400 Socially Responsible Investment (SIR) indices. Matter is recognized mongo the “100 Best Corporate Citizens,” as one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies,” and as one of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For” (Matter, 2010). At Matter, safety of the toys is its number one priority. Matter creates and produces some of the world’s most beloved toys and brands for children, and knows with this comes the responsibility to ensure quality and safety.

Matter applies internal operating procedures designed to meet or exceed compliance with regulations and laws enforced by the U. S. CAPS, and their regulatory counterparts around the world. As a global leader in the toy industry, Matter believes achieving success is just as important as the success itself. Matter strives to ensure their toys and licensed products are manufactured in a responsible and ethical manner (Matter, 2010).

Mantel’s founders built the company’s success on a philosophy of providing quality products at fair prices, and treating customers and employees with the utmost respect. Matter continually strives to instill a culture of integrity and responsibility, and knows the reputation of the company has been earned over many years. Mantel’s fine reputation reflects the decisions and actions taken each day not only by senior management, but also by individual employees across the company and around the world.

Everything Matter does is built upon the foundation of its corporation values; Play Fair, Play with Passion, Play to Grow, and Play Together (Citizenship, 2009). Scope and Limitations of the Analyses Matter has the privilege of creating toys which captivates the imagination of children around the world. With this comes an enormous responsibility to ensure the quality and safety of the company’s products. This commitment begins at the very top with the Board of Directors and Senior Management.

The Board is expansible for guiding Matter in a manner which delivers sustainable benefit for stockholders. This includes ensuring the company continues to enhance its reputation for delivering innovative products and acting as a responsible leader in the business sector. Internally, a team consisting of ten officers in key executive positions which manage the day-to-day operations of Matter; including performance, environmental leadership and safety, social responsibility, community involvement and the development of Mantel’s people worldwide (Citizenship, 2004).

Leaders should foster an environment of ethical behavior by; Acting as role models, demonstrating ethical behavior in the performance of their own duties, * Making sure employees understand business results are never more important than compliance with the standards for ethical behavior, * Ensuring employees are familiar with the standards for ethical behavior as outlined in the Code of Conduct, and the company policies are relevant to the performance of their duties, * Encouraging open communication regarding business practices and ethical issues, * Acting to address incidents off unethical behavior; including training, counseling and disciplinary action, and * Recognizing and rewarding ethical behavior (Matter, 2010).

Matter takes great pride in what they have already accomplished and realizes there are more accomplishments to follow. Like other industry-leading companies, Matter operates in a highly competitive, dynamic market-place and global society where circumstances are forever changing. Mantel’s job is to stay the course of ethical practices and continually strive to exceed the expectations stakeholders have for Matter as a responsible company (Citizenship, 2007). Literature Review Leadership has fascinated people since the dawn of recorded history. The reach for good leaders has been a common thread running through human civilization. People are captivated by the idea of leadership, and seek information on how to become effective leaders.

Many people believe leadership is a way to improve how they present themselves to others, while corporations want people who have leadership ability, because they believe these people provide special assets to their organizations (Morehouse, 2007, peg 1). Research into the traits associated with leadership may provide answers to what makes an effective leader, but specific studies accessing tools used by leaders will further explain hat makes an effective leader. Background Research on leadership has produced many definitions of the term. One such definition suggests leadership is the process of inspiring, influencing, and guiding others to participate in a common effort.

This definition suggests leadership involves the exercise of influence over a defined group, for the purpose of attaining a defined organizational goal (Invading, 2009, peg 4). Leadership can be distinguished between formal and informal. Formal leadership is the process of influencing others to pursue official organizational objectives. Formal traders have a measure of legitimate power because of their authority. Informal leadership, in contrast, lack formal authority and influence others to pursue unofficial objectives, which may or may not serve the organization’s interest. Both types rely on combinations of reward, coercive, referent, and expert power (Grittier, 2007, peg 445).

Are some people born to lead? Great leaders of the past such as Moses, Alexander the Great, Queen Elizabeth l, and Abraham Lincoln seem to differ from ordinary human beings in several respects. The same applies to contemporary leaders, such as the president of the United States, a litany general, or a business tycoon. Depending on how one feels about these individuals, one would have to agree they all possess high levels of ambition, coupled with clear visions of precisely where they want to go (Greenberg & Baron, 2008, peg 503). Top executives, some politicians, and even sports heroes or heroines often seem to possess an aura which sets them apart from others.

One scientist expressed this idea as follows: It is unequivocally clear that leaders are not like other people. Leaders do not have to be great men or women by being intellectual geniuses or omniscient reports to succeed, but they do need to have the “right stuff’ and this stuff is not equally present in all people. Leadership is a demanding, unrelenting job with enormous pressures and grave responsibilities. It would be a profound disservice to leaders to suggest that they are ordinary people who happened to be in the right place at the right time… Len the realm of leadership (and in every other realm), the individual does matter (Kirkpatrick, 1991, peg 58). The quote expresses an approach to the study of leadership known as the great person theory.

According to this orientation, great leaders possess key traits which set them apart from most other human beings (Greenberg ; Baron, 2008, peg 503). The trait approach list the following ten positive characteristics; drive for responsibility and task completion; vigor and persistence in pursuit of goals; originality in problem solving; a drive to exercise initiative in social situations; self-confidence and sense of personal identity; willingness to accept consequences of decision and action; a readiness to absorb interpersonal stress; willingness to tolerate frustration and delay; ability to influence other people’s behavior; and capacity to structure social interaction systems.

It also suggests all read leaders share these traits regardless of when and where they lived, or the precise role in history they fulfilled (Morehouse, 2007, peg 17). While leadership traits are important, great leaders may also rely on other entities for leadership. Communication Some people are leaders because of their communication style. Positive communication behaviors which account for successful leaders emerge through being verbally involved, being informed, seeking other’s opinions, initiating new ideas, and being firm, but not rigid (Morehouse, 2007, peg 6). Companies with highly motivated workforces usually have several communications styles available to them.

Among the most important factors are open communication systems, which help both top managers and team members understand the company’s objectives; along with their mission/vision statements and work together to achieve them verbally (Nickels, McHugh & McHugh, 2005, peg. 316). Nonverbal communication is the sharing of information without using words to encode thoughts. Factors commonly used to encode thoughts in nonverbal communication are gestures, vocal tones, and facial expressions. In most interpersonal communication, interpretation of a message is generally based OTOH on the words contained in the message and on such nonverbal factors as a gesture and facial expressions.

Managers who are able to communicate successfully through a blend of verbal and non-verbal communication are critical to the success of virtually every organization (Cert. & Cert., 2006, peg 337). Communication can also introduce an idea which serves as a focal point for the entire planning process. SOOT Analysis Key stakeholders inside and outside organizations want a general idea of why the organization exists and where it is headed. Working from the mission statement, top management formulates a situational analysis for matching organizational strengths and weaknesses with environmental opportunities and threats to determine the right niche for the organization.

Many strategists refer to this process as a SOOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (Grittier, 2007, peg 201). A SOOT analysis helps executives summarize the major facts and forecasts derived from external and internal analyses. Strategy formulation builds on a SOOT analysis to use the strengths of the organization to capitalize on opportunities, counteract threats, and alleviate internal weaknesses. In short, strategy formulations move from impel analysis to devising a coherent COUrse of action (Blander & Snell, 2007, peg. 67). With any course of action business ethics must be practiced. Ethics Ethical practices begin at the top, and are caught more than taught.

People learn their standards and values from observing what others do; not from hearing what others say. The leadership and example of strong top managers can help instill corporate values in employees. Any trust and cooperation between workers and managers must be based on fairness, honesty, openness, and moral integrity. The same can be said about relationships among businesses ND among nations. A business should be managed ethically for many reasons; to maintain a good reputation; to keep existing customers; to attract new customers; to avoid lawsuits; to reduce employee turnover; to avoid government intervention; to please customers, employees, and society; and simply to do the right thing (Nickels, McHugh & McHugh, 2005, peg. 104).

Leaders who respect people also allow them to be themselves, with creative wants and desires. Respect for others is a complex ethic, which is similar to, but goes deeper than the kind of respect parents teach children when they are little. Respect means a leader listens closely to his or her subordinates; is empathic; and is tolerant of opposing points of view. It means treating subordinates in ways which confirm their beliefs, attitudes and values. When a leader exhibits respect to subordinates; subordinates feel competent about their work (Morehouse, 2007, peg 351). Respect for others will also lead to motivation. Motivation Motivation is a broad and complex concept.

Drawing from various social sciences, scientists have defined motivation as the set of processes which arouse, direct, and maintain human behavior toward attaining some goal (Greenberg & Baron, 2008, peg 248). People are willing to work if they feel their work makes a difference and is appreciated. People are motivated by a variety of things, such as recognition, accomplishment, and status (Nickels, McHugh & McHugh, 2005, peg. 300). Leadership traits and characteristics are important to any leader; they help define what a leader should be. But, with the help of leadership tools, leaders can be more effective in leading any organization. In the next section, looking at the tools available to leaders will further support how an individual becomes a good leader.

Specific Studies Organizational tools used by leaders can be very effective in running a company. Tools may include studies; training, assessments or charts, and a combination of all are needed to effectively run a company. The next section of this paper will look at Measles hierarchy of needs; leadership styles; behavioral styles and ways in which to enhance organizational culture. Measles Hierarchy of Needs Organizations which strive to meet the needs of their employees usually attract the best people and stimulate them to do excellent work.