THE ROLE OF LEADERSHIP AS A KEY ELEMENT IN ACHIEVING SUSTAINABLE AIRLINE OPERATIONS
The airline industry is a dynamic, yet complex business (Doganis, 2006). Since leadership is crucial in ensuring that airlines are both sustainable and profitable, no matter how good and effective a leader may be, leaders are faced with the constant reality of addressing these internal and external challenges (Chappelow, 2004). The research paper therefore contextualizes the complexity of the external and internal issues which affects an airline’s mode of operation and which leaders have to take into consideration. The purpose of the research paper was to address the role of leadership as a key element in achieving the sustainability of an airline’s operation. The review of the existing academic literature and theoretical frameworks of leadership provides the understanding of the varying leadership styles and behaviours as these were crucial to assessing the behaviours and leadership styles that were practiced in the case study, viz. Airline X. An emphasis on the frameworks and behaviours of leadership was necessary since leaders are instrumental in driving their vision of the company and ensuring its long term profitability and growth within any industry. This study also uses the examples of successful airlines such as Virgin Airways, Southwest Airlines, etc. to showcase that to be a successful leader in this dynamic industry, one must be innovative, visionary and strategic. The research findings recommend that leadership styles and behaviours are indeed instrumental in ensuring long term sustainability, particularly within this highly complex and competitive industry. To achieve profitability and sustainability in the airline industry, a leader must be able to adopt a leadership approach which is participative and takes on board the relevant inputs from all stakeholders. The research findings also suggest that a leader must have the ability to adapt and tailor his/her leadership style according to the situation and should not restrict and box themselves into adopting one leadership style. Leaders can and should use a combination of leadership styles to instil and build trust with the internal and external stakeholders within the business. These leaderships skills are important as they empower employees, encourage innovation and creativity amongst iv them. This is vital if a business wishes to remain competitive and retain its competitive advantage.
MM thesis - P&DM
Leadership , Airline companies