Was Jim Blaylock a destructive leader, a competent manager, taskmaster, figurehead, or a cheerleader?
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On the basis of the information obtained from the case study, I would call Blaylock a figurehead. Even though he seems to be prepared to work in the legal department, but not to maintain sales operations (due to his education in law school), he fails to cope with general tasks. Blaylock does not seem to be a leader because he does not care about his team: he makes them work 70 to 80 hours per week, argue, and does not show up at meetings or stick to his word. He can hardly be called a manager because someone occupying such a position needs to be aware of their role in an organization and the positive influence they should make on employees. Blaylock can hardly be called a taskmaster because those beneath him are expected to follow their schedule and work in a team with others. Neither is he a cheerleader because instead of reassuring and supporting the workers, he is clueless about them.
If Jim was an incompetent manager, what do you think were the underlying root causes of his incompetence?
I believe that the main reasons why Blaylock would be an incompetent manager are that he does not realize his own strengths and weaknesses and lacks organizational fit. He is not able to gather the team of the sales department and make it united. As a leader, he cannot make others operate effectively. What is more, he does not consider his promises to be important. He lacks the power that is critical for every leader, according to power and influence theories, so that he is not able to lead by personal example and develop a highly motivating work environment. Blaylock does not know what he is supposed to do and is not aware of the personnel’s activities. He does not know the range of his duties and hardly understands how the organization works from the bottom to the top. It seems that Blaylock requires more training than he actually received in order to understand the necessary characteristics of a real leader and manager. In general, he tries to use his energy and improve performance, so it is possible that he can become competent in the future.
Why do you think Jim was seen as a high-potential candidate? Why did the CEO still think he was a high performer?
I think that Blaylock is treated as a high-potential candidate because of his personal characteristics. He has just recently graduated and is very energetic, which means that he is able to cope with a lot of different tasks. He seems to be rather outgoing, which also presupposes good communicational skills that are needed for both followers and leaders. Blaylock seems to cope with everything and tends to be enthusiastic about the opportunity he received. He appeals to the CEO because he is an intelligent person: the company has paid for his further studies. The CEO believes that Blaylock can influence the employees positively (with the discussed characteristics) if transferred to other departments so that the person can follow his example as it is proposed in the framework of a leadership theory. In addition to that, by moving him from one place to another, the CEO minimalizes possible negative influences if Blaylock fails. Still, it seems that he requires more training in preparation for new duties and responsibilities.
What would you do if you were Jim’s boss and heard about the information described here?
Being Blaylock’s boss, I would be very disappointed in him if I learned of how he goes about managing his duties. First of all, I would try to gather as much information about the situation as possible. Then, I would contact Jim to find out how he perceives this case and whether he believes that he copes with his responsibilities or not. If Blaylock appears willing to improve and perform better, I would put emphasis on further training to make him develop his management skills. Following social learning theory, I would underline the necessity for Jim to focus on being a better role model to those employees under his management. He is already an educated employee, so he does not require those traditional approaches that improve intellectual abilities. When Blaylock obtains the required skills for his current position, he can continue working. I think that he is worth such investment as a high-potential individual who is still likely to grasp new information and skills very quickly. Still, if Blaylock is not willing to improve and change his attitudes towards other employees and work itself, I believe that it would be wrong to let him continue performing in this way.
What would you do if you were Steve, a leader of a sales team?
Like Steve, I would be dissatisfied with Blaylock and the way he manages the department. In an attempt to improve the situation, I would contact him from the very beginning and discuss those issues I consider to be the most critical. If Jim accepts the need to change and agrees with me, I would assist him in any remedial actions, if at all possible. In addition to that, I would ask the members of the staff who work in this department to be more tolerable and to give Blaylock one more chance. However, if he underlines the fact that he is in charge and states that I am not supposed to interfere with his activities, I would have no other choice but to refer the case to senior management. Then, I would gather evidence for my claims and ask them to influence Jim.