Transformational Leadership in McDonald: Academic Paper


Ethical Leadership Project: Transformationational leadership in McDonald Project: You will analyze an entire group or organization, exploring an Ethical Leadership topic that is most relevant to your major. Potential topics include: Transformational or Pseudo‐transformational leadership (What is the company’s theory of leadership; How does the company motivate its employees to achieve high performance? What type […]

Transformational Leadership in McDonald’s


McDonald’s is an American fast-food franchising company. The company began its operations in 1954 in California, United States. The founder of McDonald’s is Ray Kroc, and this company is now one of the world’s leading fast-food retailers. McDonald’s operates in more than 100 countries and has over 32,000 restaurants. On any single day, McDonald’s serves more than 60 million people with various fast foods (Martins, Rindova, & Greenbaum, 2015). Since the company began its operations, it has been actively engaged in innovation and strong customer relations. To this end, it has grown into a global retail chain of franchises that operate many drive-thru restaurants. McDonald’s generates revenue from rent and royalties from franchises the company runs. Its products include hamburgers, poultry, dessert options, and a selection of breakfast meals. McDonald’s has been experiencing rapid growth in recent years. However, the company has faced criticism regarding its leadership structures. In particular, the accountability of its managers has been questioned. This paper analyzes McDonald’s leadership’s ethical problem and suggests practical steps to finding the solution.


The data about McDonald’s management style and relevant theories were obtained from journal articles and case studies. The data analysis was done by considering the purpose of this assignment. To this end, a literature review was conducted to establish the study’s objectives. Two theories were used: consequentialism and Herzberg’s two-factor theory. The aim was to ensure that the data helped meet the research objectives. Therefore, the findings of this study were used as the basis for making recommendations. These practical steps are meant to resolve McDonald’s organizational performance issues. Additionally, the means of solving these problems consider the organization’s mission. The assumption is that McDonald’s may adopt these recommendations to improve its performance. This is especially pertinent to the motivation and commitment of its employees.


McDonald’s has the following four principles for increasing employee performance:

  1. There must be a separate and multifaceted motivation system for a single segment in the firm that can assist employees in attaining an element of Maslow’s hierarchy.
  2. Each store should have particulate and attainable goals. Furthermore, it is essential for every employee to have a goal to attain
  3. Goals must not remain the same. An objective should continuously change, implying that managers should change their goals every six months.
  4. Goals should pertain to justifiable salary increases.


McDonald’s offers self-growth to its employees through training. The company has a learning institution named Hamburger University that provides training to its workers (Collings, 2014). This training enables the employees of the company to become more confident. To this end, workers increase their skills to stay relevant in offering quality products and services to customers. Furthermore, the training enhances employees’ self-esteem by enabling them to take the initiative when solving problems. In most cases, employees working for McDonald’s are usually students. Therefore, the company provides its employees with work shifts after school and on holidays. The students working for McDonald’s benefit by gaining relevant work experience and self-esteem. This acts as an inspiration for employees, which gives them satisfaction and commitment regarding their work. Furthermore, it makes workers feel included in the management of the organization. The ownership of decision-making may enhance employee commitment.

Motivating Employees

McDonald’s is committed to motivating and empowering employees to be productive. One of the significant values of the company is to urge its employees to be prompt in their work. Therefore, workers are encouraged to complete their duties on time. To this end, the management of McDonald’s makes employees aware of the adverse effects of delaying action. This emphasis on turnaround speed aids team cohesion. Therefore, workers feel productive when they achieve their day-to-day targets. Furthermore, employees help each other by finishing their set goals and objectives. The most important organizational aspect is ensuring that the employees work as a team to achieve the company’s shared mission. McDonald’s urges its employees to treat each other as colleagues. To this end, the company does not emphasize managerial ranks. Regardless of the position of an individual employee, everyone is expected to display excellent work and interact with others within the organization. The company’s success is treated as a success for everyone (Uggla, 2014). There is, therefore, a dire need to ensure that employees work in teams to achieve the set goals and objectives. A cohesive environment encourages employees to rely on each other. To this end, tasks are delegated according to the skills and abilities of each employee. The delegation of duties ensures that every employee gains experience in carrying out various tasks. Therefore, when an individual employee leaves the organization, it is easier to find a replacement. This job rotation is an important strategy that McDonald’s uses to ensure that the organization remains productive.

Empowering Employees

McDonald’s equips its employees by giving them the freedom to set targets and their own approaches to achieving success. Empowerment increases the self-esteem of employees, which enables them to gain control of the organization’s output. Furthermore, the employees gain confidence in how they approach the problem-solving process. Creativity is improved when employees work in teams. Since employees set targets and deadlines for achieving their tasks, they become creative as they have to use their skills. To this end, workers explore various courses of action to address problems they may face in achieving their duties.

Corporate and Work Culture of McDonald’s

The corporate culture of McDonald’s is largely based on the specific line manager in charge at any particular time. The company has been accused of rigid managerial practices. This criticism mostly applies to bottom-tier employees, who are often treated as expendable production units. In particular, this treatment of workers is mostly observed during lunchtime and other busy periods. However, most company managers are relaxed and maintain a friendly relationship with their employees (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2017). One of the approaches used by managers of McDonald’s is a selling approach, which signifies the readiness level of their teams.

The Close Relationship Between Management and Employees

The analysis of McDonald’s shows that the company’s managers do not attempt to curtail employee interactions. This is due to the fact that managers show interest and concern in the affairs of their workers. To this end, the management endeavors to motivate employees even at the subordinate level. There is open communication between the management of McDonald’s and their subordinates. This lack of bureaucracy at all managerial levels enhances communication between different tiers. It also fosters cohesion, placing accountability on the workforce collectively. This, in turn, alleviates pressure from individuals and increases productivity. Therefore, successful team cohesion requires open communication channels, leading to healthy relationships between managers and staff.


McDonald’s Theory of Leadership: Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

The theory of leadership that McDonald’s uses to motivate its employees is Herzberg’s two-factor theory.  This approach holds that motivation plays an important role in worker satisfaction. To this end, managers should recognize the input of their subordinates. Herzberg’s theory is implemented at Mcdonald’s by improving the work environment as well as removing barriers between management and employees (Noe et al., 2017). The management gives employees moral and material support, increasing their motivation regarding achieving goals. Therefore, work at this company is not stressful as employees interact freely with customers. This working environment is conducive to motivating employees. Furthermore, workers are motivated by the social opportunity present in the company. At McDonald’s, employees have a casual and friendly environment where they can interact with one another and attend to their duties. This acts as a draw to students seeking employment. Most learners who work at McDonald’s are assigned late shifts, which enables them to attend to their studies during the day. Therefore, the social aspect of work attracts job seekers. It also aids in fostering an inclusive environment as workers can relate to one another. This aspect is particularly noteworthy, as this informality impacts the company’s managerial structures.

McDonald’s differentiates itself from competitors by having flexible work rosters. It, therefore, offers a sociable work environment and fair work hours. However, some employees work full-time at a standardized rate. McDonald’s allows workers to attend to their social life. This is due to the fact that the company understands the role family and belonging play in employee job satisfaction. This freedom engenders a sense of fulfillment and commitment in the workforce.

Employees are frequently recognized for their efforts.  The company is also proactive in its evaluation of productivity levels. Workers who demonstrate commitment and aptitude have the chance to be promoted. This is noteworthy as job promotion is used to recognize the input of individuals. To this end, employees work hard to ensure that they get the necessary attention in the workplace. Creative employees display high output in the achievement of the goals and objectives of the organization. Such employees act as role models in the organization. A problem-solving approach is another way through which employees are recognized. At McDonald’s, workers are supposed to display leadership skills in problem-solving processes. The company encourages its employees to take the initiative when problems arise. This creativity enables employees to learn various approaches to problem-solving. Therefore, the volition of workers plays an important part in McDonald’s operational stability.

Ethical Problems Facing McDonald’s

Despite the functional relationship between the management and employees of McDonald’s, there is a tendency for managers to delegate most of the work. This is an unhealthy managerial aspect as it leads to ill will among the workforce. A thorough analysis shows that managers often delegate duties with the intention of avoiding blame for bad management. For instance, there were situations where some managers of McDonald’s would delegate work that they knew they had not executed properly. This was done to maintain their managerial record. Therefore, it is unethical for a manager to delegate tasks to employees to avoid responsibility for their failure.

Consequentialism can be used to explain why managers should not treat employees as scapegoats when it comes to the delegation of duties. The approach is a moral theory that determines the outcome of an ethical ideal by analyzing its consequences. Before delegating a specific task to the employee, the manager should know with certainty that the employee has adequate skills and experience to perform the job. Furthermore, the manager should not attempt to hide mismanagement by delegating tasks to subordinates.

In this case, the consequentialism ethical theory can be applied to warn managers of a possible deterioration of their relationship with the workforce. The measure can then be taken to correct mistakes without passing blame. In other words, the scapegoating of employees ruins the relationship between the two parties (Noe et al., 2017). The consequence of the manager mistreating the employee is an atmosphere of suspicion. Therefore, workforce disunity occurs in an organization when subordinates are blamed for the mistakes of managers. Furthermore, an employee will no longer trust such a manager and will tend to execute tasks without following protocol.

The poor relationship between the management and employees may severely affect the organization’s performance. Employees will feel that the management is corrupt due to a lack of accountability. When this happens, employees will be demotivated and will not be committed to achieving goals. A high rate of employee absenteeism will also ensue. Leading on from this, workers will seek exit strategies as they look for other organizations to join. Employees might also start to steal from the organization. Therefore, disloyalty among workers has far-reaching consequences. The ultimate outcome of this behavior is that employee productivity will decrease. Therefore, a discordant work environment will directly impact McDonald’s profitability.

Customer service is negatively affected when employees are not motivated to work. This leads to buyers seeking the services and products of other competitors in the market. Efforts to handle customer complaints cannot succeed when employees have suspicions of the management. Additionally, the organization’s communication must be based on clarity and sincerity. Duties and responsibilities need to be done according to the clear instructions given and the standard operating procedures. When the management practices injustices, employees will lose the necessary motivation to continue working. Therefore, applying consequentialism would curtail the far-reaching repercussions of poor managerial practices. To this end, it would unify the workforce, increase productivity, and make the company more profitable.

Practical Steps to Solving the Ethical Issue

Enhancing reporting structure. The reporting structure in the organization needs to be clear and simple to ensure that employees seek clarification for any task delegated by the management. This transparent structure will enhance accountability in the organization. Employees will not be concerned about the placement of blame by management. This is due to the fact that all of the work will be recorded and reported accordingly.

A delegation of duties according to the potential of individual employees. Managers should delegate tasks to employees according to the latter’s unique skills and experience. Therefore, an employee will endeavor to complete the work to the utmost of his or her ability. This healthy work ethic will lead to greater productivity, which will have a positive impact on McDonald’s profitability. To this end, the management should avoid delegating tasks that are beyond an employee’s abilities. The commitment of workers can be increased by matching tasks with their strengths. Furthermore, it is essential for the management of McDonald’s to offer coaching for employees to ensure that work is completed according to the set standards (Noe et al., 2017). Future leaders in the organization are a product of good relationships between managers and subordinates. Therefore, management needs to share experiences and knowledge with employees to enable the latter to become more responsible in their work.

Nurturing teamwork spirit. A teamwork spirit is a management approach to ensuring that individuals in the organization work together to achieve the organization’s shared mission. The management and employees should treat each other as team members or work colleagues. There should be no internal competition between individuals working at McDonald’s. Since workers have different talents and skills, they must work as a team to achieve organizational goals. The combination of efforts ensures a synergic effect on improving the organization’s overall productivity. To this end, teamwork enables employees to have the freedom to set their own targets. The empowerment of workers is established by entrusting employees to make decisions regarding organizational goals. Giving employees the freedom to set targets is crucial in ensuring that they become creative and innovative (Zhu, Anagondahalli, & Zhang, 2017). This activity is the basis for improving the overall performance of the organization. One critical need for employees is self-actualization. Workers must feel that they have exploited their potential to the fullest. Self-actualized workers are more motivated to work hard to achieve the organization’s goals. Therefore, teamwork is crucial to engaging and motivating employees.


The study would have been more successful if there had been information regarding the company’s executives. This is due to the fact that organizational traits are directly determined by top-tier management. The executives of McDonald’s were not interviewed regarding their views or proposals on how to enhance employee motivation. There was also a lack of firsthand information.


This paper explored the ethical issues facing the leadership of McDonald’s. The company has experienced exponential growth over the years, raising questions regarding its managerial structures’ longevity. Leading on from this, the analysis of this organization shows that it is susceptible to improper management decisions. Although the company’s integration policy between different managerial tiers is commendable, it poses certain problems. In particular, the informal environment allows managers to delegate their duties to subordinates. This often leads to an abuse of power as mistakes can be blamed on subordinates. Therefore, McDonald’s management structure may engender suspicion within its workforce. Leading from this, the company is susceptible to a decrease in productivity. The lack of trust between employees and management is an ethical issue that requires an immediate solution to ensure that the organization continues to perform well in the future. This problem can be corrected by enhancing the reporting structure. Additionally, the delegation of work should take the skills and talents of employees into account.


Collings, D. G. (2014). Toward mature talent management: Beyond shareholder value. Human     Resource Development Quarterly, 25(3), 301-319.

Martins, L. L., Rindova, V. P., & Greenbaum, B. E. (2015). Unlocking the hidden value of concepts: a cognitive approach to business model innovation. Strategic Entrepreneurship          Journal, 9(1), 99-117.

Noe, R. A., Hollenbeck, J. R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. M. (2017). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill          Education.

Uggla, H. (2014). Make or buy the brand: Strategic direction of brand management. Strategic       Direction, 30(3), 1-3.

Zhu, L., Anagondahalli, D., & Zhang, A. (2017). Social media and culture in crisis communication: McDonald’s and KFC crises management in China. Public Relations           Review, 43(3), 487-492.

« »

Customer's Feedback Review

Customer ID: 209318

Thank you for paper, - very good quality work from a top writer, really couldn't have managed it without your help.

Published On: 03-03-2017

Writer Response

You are welcome.


Ellen a Duce 1

  • Papers
  • Views
  • Followers
Get Access
Order Similar Paper

Related Papers