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University Massey University (MU)
Subject Management

Case Study of China Mobile

Company Background

China Mobile Limited was first incorporated in September 1997 in Hong Kong. The company was listed on NYSE on October 22nd, then on HKEX on October 23rd the same year. China Mobile has been in business for more than 2 decades.

As the main and biggest provider of telecommunication services in mainland China and Hong Kong, China Mobile provides full services in all provinces in China and Hong Kong SAR. China Mobile has the world’s largest network and customer base, a leading position in market value and business profitability, its services including mobile voice, data business, broadband, and other telecommunication services and products.

By the end of December of 2020, the company had a total of 454332 employees, 942 million mobile customers and 210 million broadband customers, with a total revenue of RMB 768.1 billion in 2020. 72.,27% of the company’s total shares was held by China Mobile communications group, with the rest held by public investors.

In 2020, Forbes magazine selected the company as one of the global 2000 world’s largest public companies, and Global Fortune 500 by Fortune magazine. The company’s credit ratings are like China’s sovereign ratings as A+ by Standard & poor’s and A1 from Mood’s.

China Mobile as a global company also pays close attention to the policies of ESG, with concrete guidelines for ethics, sustainability and governance.
For ethics, China Mobile promotes ethic and honest conduct, makes full, accurate and timely disclosure, promotes compliance with relevant laws and regulations, deters wrongdoing.

For governance, China Mobile is set to build a friendly environment for its staff, promote efficiency and productivity, boost customer and employee satisfaction and wellbeing.

The goal of environmental policies is to reduce environmental impacts from its operations, help reduce customers’ environmental impacts through the provision of low-carbon ICT services (China Mobile, nod). Leader – Challenges
In the 21st century businesses all over the world are facing countless challenges and opportunities. In the past decade or so, numerous trends have emerged some are demographic such as the aging of global population, the rise of minorities and women in developing countries; some are political as the emergence of right-wing politics, the rise of China as the second largest economy in the world. But the most important trend is technological innovation and disruption.

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New technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Intelligent Robotics, and predictive analytics, etc. are transforming the business landscape beyond recognition. All these digital innovations and disruptions bring with it opportunities and challenges, which our business leaders to embrace these challenges and react to them in a new and innovative way.

The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the business world upside down, introducing a lot of uncertainty and making it hard to predict when the business will return to “normal”. All those factors causing some specific challenges face leaders and CEOs now and in the future.

1 Customers’ needs and wants are evolving rapidly. 2 The constant need to advocate and inform staff in order to achieve sustainable success. 3 Employee engagement is not high, staff are as engaging as before. 4 lacking a competent leadership team. 5 Out- of –date technology makes it difficult to maintain high-level performance at the company (Maria Hvorostovsky, 2020)

In addition to the challenges mentioned above, there are five trends for our leadership in 2021 and beyond.

1 How to create a positive team culture in remote teams. As technology matures, more and more people are working from home or in different locations away from the office, this requires our leaders to consider how to communicate effectively not only in person but over long distances as well. Leaders should incorporate emotional support in communication as this will define the way to lead n the future.

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2 A change of mindset is necessary. As today’s winner will be tomorrow’s loser, leaders must always be ready to change. They should 1) know when change is occurring and its features, 2) identify the possible opportunities may accompany the change, 3) they must understand what their response is and the timing of their action.

3 Put welling at forefront, leaders must challenge the traditional view of putting business outcome as sole determinant of success, placing the wellbeing of employees at the center. A well-motivated staff will bring more sales and revenues to the company. As NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Wellbeing is a global movement that is being recognized at the top levels of leadership”.

4 Eliminating ethic blind spots. As businesses are recovering from Covid-19, they are desperate to bring business back to normal, in the process some unethical behaviors may occur. Leaders should on the constant lookout for those unethical behaviors and eliminate those ethic blind spots.

5 The approach of Triple bottom line. In this approach, businesses pay equal attention to social and environmental implications as well as financial outcomes. This is the extension of ESG movement. As the pandemic has demonstrated that we are part of the natural world, if we do not take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously, it will backfire, which will pose commercial and economic risks to businesses and organizations (University of Queensland, nod)

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 Emerging leadership approaches and practices

Globalization and technological advancements are continuously pushing organizations to adapt to the dynamic business environment. As continuous change and digitalization cause disruptive changes in leadership practices – what are the emerging leadership approaches that might be able to help leaders to succeed?

Northouse (2018) mentions the following emerging leadership approaches:

Authentic leadership – the authenticity of leaders and their leadership is emphasized

Click on this link: to access a self-assessment tool to determine your own level of authentic leadership. It will help you understand how authentic leadership is measured

Spiritual leadership – focuses on leadership that utilizes values and sense of calling and membership to motivate followers

Servant leadership – puts the leader in the role of a servant who utilizes ‘caring principles’ to focus on followers’ needs to help these followers become more autonomous, knowledgeable, and like servants themselves

To gain an understanding how servant leadership is measured click on this link for a questionnaire. It will also help you to explore where you stand on the different dimensions of servant leadership

Adaptive leadership – leaders encourage followers to adapt by confronting and solving problems, challenges and changes.

To better understand the process of adaptive leadership and what your own style might be, click on this link to access the Adaptive Leadership questionnaire.

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Followership – shines a spotlight on followers and the role followers play in the leadership process.

Use the following link to access Kelly’s Followership Questionnaire.

Discursive leadership – proposes that leadership is created not so much through leader traits, skills, and behaviors, but through communication practices that are negotiated between leader and follower.

The article by Malakyan (2019) examines the emerging literature on contemporary leadership focusing on leadership in the digital age, digital leadership, e-leadership, and cyber leadership. The author holds that there seems to be no discussion in the leadership literature on how to transition from pre-digital to the digital era of leadership. The study offers theoretical and practical alternatives for transitioning from traditional to contemporary leadership in the digital age (Malakyan, 2019).

Reading this article will give you a good basis for completing Activity 2. It should take about 30 minutes to read the article.

Another useful article to prepare for Activity 2 is What works for you may not for (Gen)Me: Limitations of present leadership theories for the new generation . The authors argue that Millennials (Gene) pose a unique challenge for organizational leaders. With the growing number of Millennials in the workforce, the article explores the need to reconsider five of the most frequently used leadership theories and the necessity for leadership research to evolve (Anderson et al., 1017).

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Now complete Activity 2:  Emerging Leadership Approaches where you will conduct more in-depth research into one of those emerging leadership approaches. In a second step, you will prepare answers to a case study which will be discussed in class.

 Early Leadership approaches and practices

What is it that makes some people excel in leadership roles? Why are some people elected as leaders while the rest remain followers? Leadership theories were developed to find answers to these questions.

As a leader, it is important to understand the various approaches to leadership (leadership theories) and how they impact your leadership style. This can help you as a leader to use the right approach for your own situation.

A variety of different theoretical approaches exists to explain the complexities of the leadership process. Some theories conceptualize leadership as a trait or behavior. Others view leadership from an information-processing perspective or relational standpoint. In short, over the years many different theoretical approaches to leadership i.e. leadership theories have developed. Gill (2011) holds that there are as many theories of leadership than there are leaders.

Harrison (2017) provides a timeline when these theories emerged.

Great Man theory – focuses on heroic individuals; only a few select can achieve greatness.

Trait theory – argues that effective leaders share a number of common personality characteristics (‘traits’)

Skill theory – focuses on the abilities of a leader.

Behavioral theory – views leaders based on actions and behavior.

Contingency theory – focuses on how the situation influences leadership.

Transformational leadership is a theory worth mentioning as it has been the focus of much research since the early 1980 and is still used in many business situations. Bass and Rigio (as cited in Northouse, 2018) suggest that transformational leadership’s popularity might be due to its emphasis on intrinsic motivation and follower development. This fits the needs of today’s workgroups wanting to be inspired and empowered to succeed in times of uncertainty.

To gain a better understanding of some of the theories read the article by Badshah (2012) and the article by Shaniqua and Loo-See (2018).
Reading both articles should take you no more than 40 minutes. Also, deepen your understanding of the different theories looking for more sources. Next go and complete Activity 1: Transformational Leadership.

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