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Critically evaluate the success of ‘TOMS’ shoes which has been conceptualized and established by Blake Mycoskie in America 

Introduction

This is a management report which aims at examining the current situation using theories, models and frameworks related to leadership and governance. The case study being examined in this management report is “Black Mycoksie and TOMS”. The management report intends to address the questions based on the case study. The present study focuses on critically evaluating the success of ‘TOMS’ shoes which has been conceptualized and established by Blake Mycoskie in America. It basically incorporates concepts of social entrepreneurship and proceeds to realize the case of how this venture was started, the initialization of the idea and what unique does this business had. Moreover, it also analyses the path to success of TOMS along with the challenges and issues faced by Blake. The study relates the business with the leadership and governance skills of the founder and also tries to establish a link between the skills of the founder with the way of doing business. Another angle which makes this company stand apart is the concept of “social entrepreneurship” where Blake kept the interest of the society above the individual interests and showed that business can be carried out profitably by taking care of the society as well.

Body

1.  Blake Mycoskie’s traits on five traits are as follows:

Openness to experience: Blake’s personality traits are inventive and curious. When he went to Argentina, he has observed soft casual shoes and started to sell those in the USA as well. When he realized that his knowledge of Spanish & the shoe industry needs to improved, he did not hesitate from even moving to Argentina and teaming up with Alejo (Hemers, 1997). This actually shows that he was curious to learn the skills and also believed in acquiring knowledge & new experiences.

Conscientiousness: Blake is organized and efficient in his work. This also relates with self-discipline which has not only helped him setup a good business but he is also contributing to the society (Bird, 2004). Technically, it can be said that when a person scores high on the scale of conscientiousness then he is more organized and planned. Blake displayed planning in starting the business, then realizing his flaws and then planned to recover from the bad phase by learning & contributing.

Extraversion: Blake is energetic and his commitment to serve the society and starting a business from such a humble level which today give free shows to needy people in more than 60 countries. The person asserts himself and this is reflected from Blake’s response when he observed that hoses need to be more stylish and durable & when he interacted with people, he realized what improvements he need to make in the business and him (Stogdill, 2008).

Agreeableness: When he learnt that the needs of the business requires changes in his type of shoes and durability. Instead of sticking to the old strategy, he switched to fixing the problems by agreeing to the needs in a friendly and more sensible manner.

Neuroticism: Blake is confident in terms of dealing with emotions and failures. This can be viewed from the fact when he has faced failures when he decided to start his business he did not quit and dealt with pessimism. Even when he started off again, he started with his friends and even when got rejected from several retailer stores he kept the hope alive and bounced back.

2. The success of TOMS primarily reflects the optimism which was shown by Blake in the course of visualizing, planning, structuring and establishing TOMS. The biggest impact on his personality had been put by agreeableness because by and large this trait of being friendly and compassionate has been found in his journey many a times (Mann, 2009). Starting from the outset of visualizing the business, he observed alpargatas shoes in Argentina which shows that his inclination is not to be stubborn and adamant because when he introduced this concept in America, he failed miserably at the beginning. Initially he failed and he returned to Argentina to learn the industry nitty-gritty and Spanish language as well. This brings forth the impact of his agreeableness as he accepted the lacuna and went a step further to fix the problem by moving back to Argentina and improving his professional & personal skills. Another aspect which supports this is the realization of the need of the hour America preferred shoes which were more comfortable but also high on style and durability. For getting assistance, he did not begin in solace but turned to the local company Alejo for help. This agreeableness had also driven him to be more confident due to which he could deal with the clients in more professional and upright manner which helps establish a reputation in the market (Kenny, 2003). Today is his success is measured in terms of his professional and personal assets then his success is also evaluated on the scale of philanthropic works in which TOMS has been involved. Effective leaders are honest and also work diligently which have also put a great impact on Blake’s personality. So all in all, the success of TOMS has been achieved by these personality traits of Blake which is a mixture of different traits of successful and effective leaders of the business world.

3. The motivation which drove Blake Mycoskie to work so hard continuously in spite of being worth millions of dollars is the need for socialized power. The first step to discuss such a need is to take a reference from “Personality psychology: domains of knowledge about human nature” which states that need of power if primarily described as for those who have the risk taking behaviours and achieve more in their life (Lord, 2006). Now there are two classifications for this- personalized power and socialized power. Blake has got the need for the latter because of which he works for the betterment of the society and people around him. The personalized power normally relates to the traits of those who work for their own benefit and have the need of affiliation due to which they sometimes tend to suppress others’ aspirations or opinions and try to assert their own. In case of Blake Mycoskie, he has been dealing with the failures in calm& composed way and his efforts from the very beginning have not been towards achieving phenomenal business growth in terms of numbers and statistics only but he has been working hard to achieve values. TOMS has not only been involved in giving footwear to the needy but it has gone a step further and now it supports several projects so that an inclusive growth can be attained. The eyewear project helping those who require but cannot afford have proved to be a great project as it has assisted. As he himself had faced issues in beginning TOMS, now he supports innovations in business. From all the above activities, it is seen that his need was the need for socialized power due to which he has worked rigorously (Arvey, 2006). This need was driven by a sense of responsibility and a sense of commitment to contribute positively to the society and the indigent population of the country. It has also been a part of McClelland’s theory that such individuals become happy and align their activities towards making the environment go further in a certain positive direction and this can clearly be seen in Blake’ case

4. Undoubtedly, Blake Mycoskie has a Leader Motive Profile. This will be discussed in the light of McClelland’s concepts of Power which is further classified as Socialized power in case of Blake Mycoskie, Affiliation and Achievement. Power generally relates to an ability of a person by which he can make an impact on the thinking and actions of other people & hence, can influence them to be his followers or believes in his ideas (Judge, 2002). Now this, power in the leader motive profile has been classified as personalized and socialized. The former is the one which is possesses by those leaders who use it for their own personal gains whereas the latter relates to those effective leaders who use power to influence others for a greater goal and collective good of the society at large. When Blake initialized his concept, it was for those people who cannot afford shoes due to poverty, those who have infections or sores in their feet. This motivated him to work for those impoverished ones where he ventured into business with ethics & commitment that he would raise a business not only for profit but also for helping others which reflects his socialized power. This kind of power is also linked to another form of Leader motive profile i.e. affiliation. It is known that Blake strived hard to influence others for a noble cause clubbed with business skills and professionalism. Now the power to influence others has been used for the good of others which means that the balance between socialized power & affiliation is tilted more towards the former which makes sure that the pro bono good has been given preference over personal gains (Tagger, 1999). Achievement is yet another angle for evaluating the LMP in case of Blake, the more need of achievement is likely to make a person concentric to his own needs and aspirations rather than striving for the good of others which shifts the balance between socialized power & affiliation towards the latter. An effective leader always has a moderate & optimal level of need for achievement so that his socialized power prevails and his works proper towards good for the society.

5. Self-model follows a model which utilizes self-assessments so that a person’s self-schemas can be defined. As per the study in hand, the first phases which occurred during the pre-establishment period of TOMS. There are several aspects of the self-concept which Blake Mycoskiehas and those have helped him in passing those tough phases and keep his composure. When he had already established four businesses by the age of 29, he still thinks to begin with a new business and develop the idea till he reaches to Argentina, he has the self-concept that he is business minded and an innovative entrepreneur (Kickul, 2000). As we know that self-concept is a descriptive component and applying the descriptive component it can reflect that the concept of being confident on his part was clearly visible. This confidence has come from either his past experiences or from the professional skills he had developed throughout his life and in the course of running his businesses. There is yet another aspect of self-concept and that is his will and passion to help others. There were moments when the business experiment of shoes proved to be a utter failed idea when he lacked the knowledge of the industry and also the Spanish language (Kickul, 1998). Blake had the self-concept that he is a good learner can acquire skills for improving his business and also use those skills to improve his business. During the whole process, it is to be noticed that there were many risks which had to be taken and he took those risks with utmost care and calculation. While working for the volunteering organization, he realized that a continuous flow of shoes is needed and a simple nongovernmental organization would not be able to serve the purpose. When he proceeded on these conclusions and made certain decision, it was because is self-concept that he identifies the problem well and also knows how to fix such a problem (Foti, 2007). He proceeded in the direction and had to change plans, make alterations in designs and strategies to fulfil his intent of succeeding TOMS.

6. One of the important leadership roles, displayed by Blake Mycoskie is the Sociability Trait. This can be observed by applying the trait theory of leadership while assessing the case of Blake Mycoskie and TOMS (Zaccaro, 2007). Taking this particular case into consideration it can be said that with the presence of the sociability traits he displayed behaviour and undertook roles which may have led to the success of his business. Even during his early life he displayed social behaviours which have evidently helped him succeed. Even with TOMS, his sociability trait is widely visible; as he started the business as a philanthropic initiate this shows his intent to help the underprivileged (Stewart, 1995). Also apart from TOMS and the Shoe initiative there are many other corporate social initiatives which have been undertaken by him which further establish the trait theory of leadership (Zaccaro, 2008). It can be noticed through various instances in Blake Mycoskie’s professional life that this is one of the main of leadership managerial roles played by him that have helped him reach high success with TOMS. Since TOMS is a social entrepreneurship project it necessarily involves a lot of social association as it requires dealing and convincing people to spend in order to help other underprivileged one thus, his social ability is a strong leadership managerial role which has immensely helped make a TOMS a great success. Along with TOMS it has also helped him be successful in other areas of his professional life as well (Gershenoff, 2003). Thus it can effectively be concluded that his sociability trait played an important part in the success of TOMS.

 

7. The Kohlberg’s model of moral development is based on the ethical behaviour of an individual (Mumford, 2000). By going through the case, it can be established that Blake Mycoskie is ethical in business. In fact he has established his TOMS on the motto of helping the people. Thus it can effectively be concluded that Blake Mycoskie is on the Stage Six of Moral development. The Stage six the moral thinking of an individual is based on general ethical morality (George, 2006). For example, one of the ethical principles they follow is that one shouldn’t do on others what they won’t wish on themselves, it basically means that one should always treat an individual as they would like to be treated.  At this stage of moral development the individual has a strong idea of right and wrong. Thus these are the individuals who follow the laws and policies of the government effectively as well as maintain their social corporate responsibility effectively.

Taking the case of Blake Mycoskie and TOMS, it can be observed that he started TOMS after he realized that the NGO- or Nonprofit organization wouldn’t be sufficient to deal with the shoe problem in Argentina, thus being an entrepreneur he came up with the idea of merging business with helping the underprivileged people. These are also the individuals which follow the laws and policies of the government as well as maintain their social corporate responsibility effectively (Dasborough, 2006).

Taking the case of Blake Mycoskie and TOMS, it can be observed that he started TOMS after he realized that the NGO- or Non profit organization wouldn’t be sufficient to deal with the shoe problem in Argentina, thus he being an entrepreneur he came up with the idea of merging business with helping people. And also TOMS operates on a completely ethical organization (Lewin, 2009). In spite of being business originations it excellently fulfils the role of a charity organization.

8. The Ethical or Unethical behaviour by any organization plays an important role in the success of any business. In the case of Blake Mycoskie, his ethical behaviour as well as his Philanthropic intent became the cause for success for his venture TOMS (Manktelow, 2012). It is a well established fact that he started TOMS with a charitable intent. In fact the idea of starting TOMS came from his corporate social responsibility schemes. As it can be seen in the case, while on a trip to Argentina, when he witnessed an opportunity to grow his business by starting a shoe line like the Alpargatas (soft canvas shoes) in the US, during the same trip he also witnessed that they were many underprivileged people there who didn’t have shoes, and then decided that expanding his business could wait, he would first address the shoe problem in Argentina (Griffin, 2010). Thus he started helping those people by providing shoes. When he realized the graveness of the problem he came up with an idea of being a social entrepreneur and started TOMS. By assessing the ethical behaviours of TOMS, it can clearly be noticed that the shoes sold seems like a secondary thought with the main motive being helping the people by donating shoes. TOMS operates on the motive of donating half of the profit earnings to provide shoes for the underprivileged people. The ethics on which the company functions promotes lasting relationships, a philanthropic society, and a important social effect (Forsyth, 2009).  This proves that there is a direct relationship between the Ethical behaviours of Blake Mycoskie, and the success of TOMS which along with being a business enterprise is also a great philanthropic initiative. It can also be concluded through this that companies can easily have a strong corporate social responsibility, along with being a successful enterprise. Another important fact which should be taking into consideration is that initially when Blake Mycoskie, failed to gather attention to TOMS, he kept on trying different sources but never resorted to unethical means (Howell, 2012). Though the success of his initiative required some efforts, but after that he witnessed enormous success.

 

9. Some of the important leadership traits and behaviors of Blake Mycoskie which can be observed through the case are the sociability trait and the trait of taking initiative. These traits and behaviours have not only helped him effectively lead TOMS to success but also helped him create a strong brand image about himself as well as TOMS (Schmid, 2002). The ability of taking imitative is one of the most important leadership traits displayed by the effective leaders, research have concluded on many instances that leaders displaying the ability to take initiatives is the perquisite to be a successful leader. Thus in the case of Blake Mycoskie’s and TOMS, his trait of taking initiative can easily be witnessed at the time he started TOMS, also during the set-up there have been many instances where one can notice the display of his trait. For example while he started TOMS, he realized that buying shoes is not a viable option if he wants to increase the operational scale of TOMS, thus he went back to Argentina and forged a partnership with Shoe maker Alego to counter the increasing requirement and also to serve a large amount of people shoe (Berdahl, 2005). Upon realizing the deficit in buying shoes, he didn’t stop his operations or continue in the same, in fact he took the reins in his hands and dealt with the issue hands on. Thus manufacturing their own shoes along with solving the problem also gave it an edge of differentiation among other brands. Also another instance of Blake Mycoskie’s taking initiate trait is during the initial days when he had just started TOMS, to gain a foothold in the market it was he himself went out to different marketers who would help him sell TOMS but when they refused he didn’t give up hope kept trying several other ways (Guastello, 2007). Also to establish TOMS he did a lot of things himself rather than depending on his team. This is a perfect example of taking initiative and leading successfully. The entire success of TOMS depends on his ability to take initiate, many times it so happens that leaders take initiative at the start of a venture but fizzle out in between, this in turn hinders the success of that particular venture (Berkowitz, 2003). Taking the example of Blake Mycoskie, leaders should consider the fact that for a venture to be successful it is highly important for them to take initiative not just at the start of it but throughout its establishment to ensure its success.

Conclusion

For concluding the report, it needs to be reiterated that Blake had raised this business from the scratch starting from a very basic idea. While he got this innovative idea from Argentina and decided to implement it in America but it was never an easy journey so far. Blake has shown commendable traits for Big Five and his leadership skills are an exemplary anecdote for business leaders to come. His confidence, never give up attitude and openness to learn every time is an epitome of business skills. Along with growth in his business, he also kept working for the society and impoverished people so that his business grows not into a profitable business but converts itself into “social entrepreneurship” where he serves the needy people as well and that is why today, TOMS is known for giving shoes to poor people in many parts of the world.


 

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