Organizational Behavior & Case (Ricardo Semler: A revolutionary Model of Leadership)

Organizational Behavior & Case (Ricardo Semler: A revolutionary Model of Leadership)


Semler took control of Semco Company in 1992 at a tender age of 24. He argues that he was able to turn the culture of management that had ruled the company before. Moreover, prior to Semler taking control of the management of this company, it had a paternalistic and pyramidal structure in which leadership was autocratic (Maddux and Swaab 2014, p. 2). This had been the culture of almost all Latin American Companies. Once he had taken over, from his father he began dramatic changes on how to manage the company. He began by restructuring the company. One of the first initiatives he took was to rename the company to Semco. He then dropped all the secretarial positions and then implemented an aggressive strategy for diversification of the products of the company. Therefore, this paper will examine the case, main challenges discussed in this case and the solutions to these challenges.

Challenges the Company Faced

The company had hierarchical organization charts that impacted negatively upon the employees. In addition, the company did not have flexible time schedules and leadership were autocratic. Employees did not get an opportunity to contribute to decision making. Some of the rules within the company also hampered the productivity of the workers (Maddux and Swaab 2014, p. 3).  These rules affected the company until Semler took over from his father and introduced a number of policies. All these problems pertain to poor management and leadership styles that were being applied there before. Many analysts had hoped that these actions would destroy the company. These changes did not, however, lead top collapse of the company (Maddux and Swaab 2014, p. 7. Revenue for the company rose from $35million in 1990 to $100million in 1996.These changes made the company be the most flexible and sought after company by employers in Brazil. Semco could manufacture about two thousand products such as marine pumps, dishwashers, digital scanners, mixing machines and filters. Additionally, it was able to diversify into environmental and banking services. Many companies visited Semco to discover its success while Brazil was experiencing hyperinflation, unemployment, devaluation of currency among many other problems.

Solutions to these Issues

Certain experimental and theoretical perspectives support the pragmatic approach of Semler in managing the challenges that are faced in the workplace. Semler was able to strip away the authoritarianism that diminished the productivity of the workers in addition to hampering self-managing and self-governing (Maddux and Swaab 2014, p.7). Some of the solutions to these problems include eliminating the organization charts, introducing flexible work schedule and creating a good working relationship with the employers.

Eliminating the Organizational Charts

Semler eliminated the organizational charts and currently Semco does not have formal organizational charts (Maddux and Swaab 2014, p. 8). When it is important to sketch the company’s structure they do it and then dispense it as soon as they can. The assumption here is that workers who are aware of the objectives of the company will align themselves into those teams that will maximize chances of achieving the desired goals of the team. This created a strong organization culture that encouraged self-management of employees. Strong organizational culture holds the core values of an organization intensely as well as sharing them (Judge & Robbins 2015, p. 267). It tends to have a significant influence on the conduct of the employees. In this way, it is important to create a strong organizational culture to increase cohesiveness and control employee turnover.

Flexible Time Schedule

Semco has flexible working hours. The responsibility of setting these hours and keeping track of them has been left to workers. Workers work at different speed and tend to differ in the rate of performance depending on the time of the day. This flexible schedule adapts workers needs and desires. Flexible work schedule motivates employees as it balances both time for thinking, leisure, work and creativity (Judge & Robbins 2015, p. 169). Semler, therefore, rejects strict time adherence and offer a more flexible schedule where a worker can work according to their desire. Similarly to increase the productivity of workers, management must create a less rigid time frame.

Redesigning Working Environment

Workers should be left to feel free and adapt to their working places as they deem fit (Judge & Robbins 2015, pp. 171). It is important that changes in the working context be according to the desires and satisfaction of the workers. In Semco, for instance, there is no dress code which enables eliminate stereotypes (Maddux and Swaab 2014, p. 5). Semco Company’s employees are encouraged to do the assigned tasks according to how they see it fit not according to set rules and policies. Therefore, providing suitable working vital is essential in encouraging the workers to give the best.

Effective Communication

Leadership is all about having effective, and any negative communication can ruin the relationship with workers. Effective communication tends to inspire and motivate employees. It is an important tool for conflict resolution (Judge & Robbins 2015, pp. 167). Managers must, however, understand that each form of communication has its own challenges that must be overcome. It is, therefore, important that communication be used appropriately. Communication barriers will distort communication and it is upon any management to design an effective communication.


Managers who have high confidence level on the abilities of their workers and in their own capabilities at micro-managing should have a firm grasp of the tactics represented in the case of Semco. These tactics include the elimination of hierarchical charts in an organization, redesigning the working environment, adopting flexible working schedules and effective communication for resolving the conflict. In this regard, leaders can steer their organizations while they cultivate an environment that encourages motivation and inspiration of workers.



Judge, T.A. and Robbins, S.P. and Judge, T.A. 2015. Essentials of organizational behavior. 12th ed. Pearson: USA.

Maddux, W.W. and Swaab, I.R. 2014. Ricardo Semler: A revolutionary model of leadership. Case study. INSEAD: The Business School for the World.



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