An Impossible Dream?
Allen Block was responsible for the technical implementation of the new customer relationship management (CRM) software in Los Angeles and Chicago. The software was badly needed to improve follow-up sales for his company, Exert Systems. Exert sold exercise equipment to high schools and colleges, as well as to small and midsized businesses for recreation centers, through a national force of 310 salespeople. The company’s low prices won a lot of sales; however, follow-up service was uneven and the new CRM system promised to resolve those problems with historical data, inquiries, reminders, and updates going to sales reps daily. The CEO of Exert ordered the CRM system installed with all possible haste. Block currently had four members in the team working on this project: two in Los Angeles and two in Chicago. On his way to Chicago from Los Angeles, Block kept on thinking about what was wrong with his team. The guys in LA seemed to be focusing tirelessly on work, alternating work with joking around. His team members in Chicago appeared to be alternating between bickering and avoiding one another. Block kept receiving persistent complaints about his team members’ productivity from his boss Zequine Mansell. All through his flight, Block kept on thinking about the reasons for this low productivity and lack of passion among his team members. Block also started fearing that this would ruin his dreams of replacing his boss Mansell, after her retirement.
1 How would you characterize Block’s leadership approach (task versus people)? What approach do you think is correct for this situation? Why?
2 What would you do now if you were Block? How might you awaken more enthusiasm in your team for completing this project on time? Specify the steps you would take.
3 How would you suggest that Block modify his leadership style if he wants to succeed Mansell in two years? Be specific.
Environmental Designs International
Carver was a highly skilled architect responsible for managing a team of designers in Environmental Designs International’s (EDI) Chicago office. Although his abrupt personality had helped him climb the corporate ladder, his intimidating communication style was beginning to create problems and hamper his ability to get results. Carver learned in his performance review that his work relationships were suffering and the complaints about him were increasing. Even his longtime peers were avoiding him as much as possible and finding ways to work around him. Sensitive to the growing animosity toward him, Carver began to reconsider how he interacted with his staff and peers. He felt motivated to begin using some of the tools he learned in the executive education course he recently completed.
1 “At the senior management level, you get hired for competence. You get fired for personality.” In your opinion, is this statement true or false? 2 How does it relate to Barry Carver and his current leadership style?
Identify the behaviors described in this case that were damaging to Barry Carver’s work relationships. Why would a manager behave this way? What negative consequences did these behaviors have on his peers and subordinates?
3 How realistic is it that Carver (or anyone) can change his own leadership skills? What kind of help might he need?