I believe an effective leader is a person who has a vision, self confidence and passion
to realise own goals. Through the article we will see three different leaders, from the same
industry, air industry, but with different leadership styles.
Thomas Anthony (Tony) Ryan
As one of the biggest visionaries in airline industry, Thomas Anthony (Tony) Ryan,
„was a pioneer of modern business techniques” (McKittrick, 2007). In the early 1970s, as a
leasing manager in Irish state air company, he was responsible to find profitable use for
aircraft surplus. Those experience he used to become a founder of Guiness Peat Aviation in
1974, where he started to lease aircrafts which encorauge other compaines to expand their
business and grow. He recruited some of the most influenced business, political and
diplomatical people in Great Britain and Ireland to work for him. The great leaders always
see in the front of the others, so he recruited the young group of talented Irishmen to travel
around the world, make personal contacts and research about airline business. They must to
attend each monday mornings meeting, where he summarized their impressions and ideas.
His charisma made him charismatic leader. By House and his associates (Schermerhorn,
Hunt, Osborn,Uhl-Bien, M., 2010) charismatic leader is:
„a leader who, by force of their personal abilities, are capable of having a profound and extraordinary effect on followers. They are high in need for power and have high feelings of self-efficacy and conviction in moral rightness of their beliefs”
As one Irish commentator put it: „In the depressed Ireland of the late 1980s, the
company was a beacon of hope. Ordinary Irish managers were able to become the best in the
world” (Adeney, 2007).
Economic depression in early 1990s undermined the company, and ran into debt
problems with american investors who are declined to invest their money. Ryans leadership
style and attitude is best described in the sentence after he lost control of the company:
„People say Im arrogant and sure I am, but you should see those arrogant sons of bitches on
Wall Street” (McKittrick, 2007). But, as each great visionary, he realized the opportunity of
low-cost airlines, so he already launched his own little airline „RyanAir”. The company had
only one turboprop plane flying to and from across the Irish Sea, and it strugling in the
beggining. But, Ryan showed again good judge of people. He promoted the charismatic and
uncompromising Michel OLeary to chief officer and then in chief executive. Today it is
Europes largest low-cost airline, with 67 milion passengers and yearly growth of 14% in
2009/2010 („RyanAir Ltd”, 2010).
What are the charateristics of Tony Ryan as a leader? Vision on the first place, like all
other leaders he was in the front of his time:
Visionary leaders are the builders of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight, and boldness. They present a challenge that calls forth the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. They work with the power of intentionality and alignment with a higher purpose. Their eyes are on the horizon, not just on the near at hand. They are social innovators and change agents, seeing the big picture and thinking strategically (The Center for Visionary Leadership, 2010).
As a worker in Irish airline company, he came up with the first of his two big ideas.
He had a vision, but also enough courage and self confidence to work in his vision. After his
first big idea became world succesfull and recognized,