For your online test you will have to answer questions based on one case study. The case study you will have to answer will be selected from six different case studies below. The questions have not been included.
You are asked to read and revise the theory that you think can be used to answer possible questions about each of these six case studies. Use your lecture notes, core reading and seminar activities to help you do this.
Case Study 1
When she began her leadership career in the technology industry as Vice-President of Marketing & Product Development at Compuware, Anu Shukla says she thought that leaders got results by giving orders. “I thought I would force my will upon people and make them follow me whether they wanted to or not,” Shukla says. “I didn’t understand that my employees were the prize stallions and my job was to unblock things for them and help them succeed.”
As she moved through jobs at different companies, Shukla gradually learned a different way of leading, finding that she got better results when she stopped barking orders and instead got her employees to understand and embrace ideas. She began listening to employees’ ideas and contributions, which increased her power. When she started her own company, Rubric, an internet software firm, Shukla found that acknowledging her dependence on her employees was the key to retaining her most talented workers. It was the height of the dot-com boom, and the competition for talent was fierce. Shukla believes if she had relied on formal authority alone, she would have lost many of her most valued employees to other start up companies.
After Shukla sold Rubric, many of her colleagues followed her to her new venture, RubiconSpoft. Both Rubric’s former CFO and its Vice-President of Marketing, who had also worked with Shukla at three other companies, even invested in the new company. Ted Mihara, Rubric’s former regional Sales manager, also joined RubiconSoft as Vice-President of Sales. He explains why: “I want a leader who makes my own efforts easier and Shukla’s intellect, competitiveness and great customer skills are very compellin
Case Study 2
For most of Applegate Farms’ history, its CEO hasn’t even been in the office. When Stephen McDonnell bought a struggling meat products company nearly 20 years ago, he spent the first six months working full-time on site, but since then he’s been working mostly from home.
From his experience at other companies, McDonnell had observed that most organisational problems were more easily diagnosed and more effectively solved, within specific teams or work groups rather than by top managers. He decided that the best way to get a company running smoothly was to give everyone constant access to relevant information, empower them with the freedom and responsibility to act on it and then stay out of the way.
What’s interesting about the whole story however is that McDonnell is a self-confessed control-freak boss, full of anxiety and obsessed with meeting goals and moving on quickly. He has a tendency to micromanage. When he goes to the office, which he does once a week, he does everything from taste-testing new products, to meeting with senior managers on strategic issues to dealing with staff problems, even disciplining staff who might threaten the company’s smooth functioning. Applegate thrives under his style of leadership. Profits and productivity go up every year.
Cast study 3
‘Legal Eagles [email protected] is one of the top UK law firms providing a broad range of legal services to major companies (including corporate, employment litigation and property legal [email protected] The company is structured on the basis of specialisms (or functions). The different legal specialisms generally operate independently as they are based on separate departments. The firm has formed Client Service teams where each team brings together lawyers from the different legal specialisms. The aim of these teams is to coordinate the services that the firm provides to their largest clients – to focus on their needs and ensure these clients are satisfied and retained.
As part of the training and development programme to drive improvements in client service, each lawyer was assessed to identify their Belbin team profiles. Out of 150 lawyers only one was identified to have strengths as a ‘Plant’.
Some people simply don’t want the added responsibility of being a manger – they might view it as ‘unwanted hassle’. Others might relish the chance to move up the organisational ladder but may be put off by the lack of training to develop their leadership skills. And there are those who welcome the responsibility. A prime example of this was Emma Dixon. Having graduated with a degree in Maths, Dixon thought she stood a good chance of finding a job quickly. After countless interviews, she got a break with a media company working in analytics. She excelled in her job, cruised through her probation period and received glowing appraisals. But all was not well. People appeared to be leaving the company and were not replaced. Dixon’s workload in turn increased. Her line manager would frequently be away on trips leaving her as the ‘person in charge’ who everyone went to for help. To cap it all off, her manager went off on a sabbatical and his vacancy was not filled. Dixon was forced to fill the void unofficially and received a negligible increase in salary. It became a running joke with her friends that interns were hired and paid more than her.
Having taken so long to secure a job in an unpredictable economic climate, she was cautious about applying for other jobs. “I wasn’t getting any help in my job but I was too nervous to leave”, she said. “I was given more responsibility which I enjoyed but was getting hardly any recognition – either in salary or job title”. Finally enough was enough – she took the plunge and got a new job.
When Pamela Forbes Lieberman learned that her subordinates called her ‘The Dragon Lady’, she embraced the title and hung a watercolour of a dragon in her office. Lieberman makes no apologies for her hard-driving management style. Her emphasis on tough goals and bottom-line results is helping to restore the health of the hardware tools company TruServ, which supplies tools to hardware stores around the country. Her concern for results, for slashing costs and setting tough performance tasks, was seen as a singular and to the exclusion of the concerns of her staff. “If people succeed, they will be rewarded, but if they don’t, then we’re going to have to look for ne people sitting in their chairs”, says Lieberman. Lieberman also believes in the importance of morale. She’s been known to join in karaoke nights with the staff and she uses humour and stories to lighten up intense meetings. At the end of every meeting to outline new tasks or performance targets she plays the song: ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ to keep people motivated and focused on goals.
“There are 24 hours in a day, and you can use them all,” says Jeff Immelt. Immelt claims he’s been working 100 hours a week for nearly a quarter of a century, long before he took over the top job at General Electric. “You have to have real stamina”, he says.
Immelt has shown a drive for achievement since his days at Harvard Business School, which he says he approached like a job. That’s where he began budgeting his time with steely discipline and pursuing goals with gritty determination. As CEO of GE, Immelt is known as a demanding boss who isn’t afraid to push aside his own hand-picked managers if they don’t meet performance standards. However, Immelt is also praised by employees (who he calls teammates) for his pleasant approachable manner. His optimism about GE’s future is infectious; despite a slowdown in the company’s sales, he helps his people see a world of promising opportunities.
For such a hard-charging leader, Immelt can seem surprisingly relaxed, almost serene, partly due to his confidence in his abilities and his belief in GE’s superior capabilities and quality people. Yet, as Fortune magazine put it, “his apparent serenity masks rigour, toughness and a white-hot desire to win.”