Leadership Qualities and Strategies at AT&T Inc.


AT&T Inc. is a big American international conglomerate-holding organization with its headquarters in Downtown Dallas, Texas. The organization is the world’s biggest telecommunications organization, the leading supplier of fixed telephone in the United States through its AT&T Communications, and the second biggest supplier of mobile telephone services. In mid-2018, the organization became the parent company of WarnerMedia, a mass media conglomerate, which made it become the world’s leading company in media and entertainment industry in terms of revenue (Belsch & Belsch, 2016). All these portfolios have enabled the organization to be regarded as one of the major multinational organizations in the world today and rank in position 9 in the Fortune 500 rankings in the United States in terms of revenue. 

Organization Overview

The organization was established in 1885 when by Alexander Graham Bell invented and patented the telephone. The company started growing slowly as people started using the telephone as a means of communication. The management team at that time developed a network of subsidiaries across the United States and Canada and the fact that it held a government-authorized monopoly to offer telephone services, it grew tremendously making it one of the biggest organizations in the United States at the time (Belsch & Belsch, 2016). The monopoly was referred to as the Bell System. The organization was anchored on the premise of good leadership that always sought to provide the best quality services to its clients while operating in an efficient manner to ensure all its bottom line objectives are attained. This is what successive leadership at AT&T Inc. has been trying to attain. The current management team is led by Randall L. Stephenson who is the CEO and the chairman of the group. Under the leadership of Stephenson, the organization has been able to expand its presence in different continents across the globe. Today, the company has opened subsidiaries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa (Belsch & Belsch, 2016). They have partnered with other organizations, which has enabled them to improve their presence in all parts of the globe.  

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Current Situation—Storyline

The leadership at AT&T Inc. is currently considering coming up with strategies that can help the organization grow even further, especially in the smartphone industry. Even though the organization has historically performed exceptionally well in the fixed line phone service segment, the organization has never been able to curve a market niche for its mobile phones and more so in the smartphone segment. The smartphone industry is characterized by stiff competition by major multinational organizations such as Apple Inc., Huawei, and Samsung. These organizations have been able to capture the market in a way that other players have not been successful in challenging their dominance. However, under the leadership of Stephenson, the organization is determined to challenge the current three market leaders and be able to compete with them toe-to-toe. Different leaders in line with the capacity they hold in the organization will implement this strategy. For instance, product development leaders will be required to develop highly sophisticated smartphones that have all the good features. The marketing manager, on the other hand, will be required to come up with a comprehensive marketing strategy that can help promote these products in different markets across the globe.   

Specific Problem or Problems

Just like all business organizations, AT&T Inc. has been facing a different number of problems that have been challenging. At one time, the federal government charged the management team for acting illegally by selling its services to non-American citizens who were only interested in perpetrating crimes. This scandalous issue tainted the image of the organization to many of its stakeholders. Currently, the organization has been of using false marketing strategies to dupe people into buying their products. This is not only immoral and unethical; it is an illegality that should never have occurred in the first place. The organization through its marketing department advertised that one of its network in the United States was fully functioning as a 5 generation. This was not the case and it was meant to fool the customers into buying its products at a higher price. The organization was taken to court about this unethical marketing scandal. To prevent negative publicity and as a way to avoid further damage to its damage, the management team at the organization decided to settle the suit with the accusers in an out of court arrangement. 

Learning Opportunity

The aforementioned challenge, as well as, many other challenges can be considered as a learning curve where the organization takes lessons and uses these lessons and experiences to ensure that these problems never happen in the future (Broom, Lauzen, & Tucker, 2015). In the case of misleading communication strategy, the organization sought to settle the claim and issue an apology to the people involved (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 2016). Consistently, internal measures have been taken to ensure that such an ethical issue of misleading customers or any other stakeholder should never happen again in the organization. In the marketing department, for example, it has been agreed that all major advertisements or promotional methods must be approved by a number of officers to ensure that the advertisement the department wants to release to the public reflect the services or the products being advertised or promoted (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 2016). This strategy would ensure that unscrupulous employees in the organization do not fool customers either by mistake or through deliberate actions. It is also important to mention that the organization hired other employees in these departments (Bennis, 2009). These employees are highly skilled and experienced and it has been agreed that it is unlikely that they could allow such a mistake to ever happen again in the organization.


From the discussion above, one can see that good leadership coupled with good strategic management leadership, have been the two main factors that have helped AT&T Inc. to become one of the most important business organizations in the world today. The organization has been able to operate profitably for more than the 140 years it has been in existence, which can be said to have resulted from the good leadership foundation it was anchored on since it was incepted in 1885 (Bartlett & Ghoshal, 2016). Successive leaders have been able to offer good leadership qualities that are based on good strategic management and ethical standards to expand the organization even further. Under the leadership of Randall L. Stephenson, it is projected that the organization will continue to grow even further across different spheres of the world. 


Bartlett, C.A. & Ghoshal, S. (2016). Transnational Management: Text, cases, and readings in cross-border management. Chicago: Irwin.

Belsch, G.E. & Belsch, M.A. (2016). Introduction to advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications approach. Chicago: Irwin.

Bennis, W. (2009). ‘Becoming a leader of leaders’. (In Gibson, R. ed. Rethinking the future. London: Nicholas Brealy.)

Broom, G.M., Lauzen, M.L. & Tucker, K. (2015). ‘Public relations and marketing: Dividing the conceptual domain and operational turf’. Public relations Review, 17(3):219-225.

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