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Leadership: Ice Cream Division Essay

This document focuses on the Chattanooga Ice Cream Division case study developed by Carl Sloane. Leadership opportunities and action are defined based on the characters in the case study. Dysfunction is evaluated both from a team aspect and from the leadership role. Specific development activities are identified to help the individuals develop emotional intelligence. Finally, recommendations will be made to guide the team forward. Background Chattanooga Ice Cream is a division of Chattanooga Food Corporation which is a family-controlled business founded in 1936 (Sloane, 1997).

The ice cream division is one of the largest regional maufacturers of ice cream in the United States. The company’s primary focus is mid-priced basic ice cream products. The ice cream division has been experiencing flat sales and a declining profitability over the past four years (Sloane, 1997). Competitors had shown success in recent years with premium and super-premium brands with “mix-in” ice cream flavors. The Chattanooga Food Corporation focused on leadership changes in an attempt to improve the ice cream division’s performance.

In 1993, Charles Moore was promoted to head the division. The ice cream division also hired a new vice president of marketing to replace a 30 year veteran. Stephanie Krane was assigned to the division to upgrade the information systems and control function. In 1995, the original manufacturing plant in Chattanooga was closed to control costs. The management changes resulted in a disruption to the top level management team. Three of the seven members of the management team were new to their positions. Additionally, Charles’ leadership style was very different than his predecessor.

The previous general manager had been with the business for many years and had numerous networks to gather information. He made important decisions alone and rarely felt the need to consult his management team. The Dysfunction The ice cream division sales continued to fall, and the company recently lost a significant customer to Sealtest. The announcement of this loss resulted in open criticism from virtually all team members. In the past, when issues arose and blaming between departments occurred Moore would not respond in hopes that the managers would quit complaining about each other.

Moore believes in the value of group based decisions and liked to bring people together formally to share information, consult on decisions, and forge consensus (Sloane, 1997). Moore would rank high in collaboration using the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). The TKI (2007) states that the “overuse of collaboration and consensual decision making sometimes represents a desire to minimize risk – by diffusing responsibility for a decision or by postponing action.

The assessment goes on to state that a person with a high collaboration score may miss some cues that would indicate the presence of defensiveness, impatience, competitiveness, or conflicting interests. Moore appears to also favor the avoiding mode when conflict arises. Avoiders tend to hope that conflict goes away on its own. Moore has been avoiding conflict by not addressing the conflict when it arose. The DiSC Assessment is a tool to help an individual understand themselves and others. Based on the case study by Sloane (1997) Moore appears to be an S, which stands for steadiness.

The S style prefers to work at a methodical pace and to focus on their tasks without interruption. They seek a calm, orderly structure where collaboration and group effort are valued (DiSC, 2008). People that have an S profile are demotivated in competitive environments, do not like being rushed into quick decisions, or having to be confrontational. These three traits of Charlie Moore have resulted in a lack of leadership through conflict and the inability to make a decision without collaboration time. As a leader, Moore has not displayed the four key principles to success according to Jack Welch in Winning (2005).

These basic principles are mission and vision, candor, differentiation, and voice and dignity. First, Moore has not created a vision for the Ice Cream Division, and the division appears to be relatively isolated from the overall mission of the Chattanooga Food Corporation. According to Welch (2007), the mission tells where you are going and the values describe the behaviors that will get you there. Charlie Moore has been the General Manager for four years, yet it does not appear that he has determined how the Ice Cream Division can win in their current market, nor has he defined what winning means.

The second principle is candor. Candor facilitates strong discussion. In the case of the Ice Cream Division team, it appears the team was displaying a lack of candor by not sharing critical information, or generating ideas which could result in a real debate. Part of candor is feedback. As a leader, it is critical to give feedback so each team member understands exactly what has to be done for improvement and where they stand in the organization (Welch, 2005). There are three main benefits of candor according to Welch (2005).

First, candor gets people into the conversation. More ideas are generated and discussed, and all team members have the opportunity to contribute to generate the best ideas. Candor also increases speed since getting people into the conversation results in immediate debate and discussion which allows a well informed decision to be made. Speed is the second benefit of candor. Finally, candor cuts costs. Openly sharing information, positive and negative, results in a team that can quickly respond to issues that arise. Welch’s (2005) third principle focuses on differentiation.

Differentiation is a way to manage people and business. The business side of differentiation focuses on how to beat the competition through strategy. The people portion requires a leader to identify the top 20 percent, middle 70 percent, and the bottom 10 percent of performers. The next step is to act on this evaluation. In the case of the Chattanooga Ice Cream Division, the bottom 10 percent would not know where they ranked or why. This problem ties back into candor. Without candid conversations regarding goals and performance, an employee has a reduced chance of success.

Additionally, the lack of candid conversations does not give the individual an opportunity to improve their performance. Further, in this case study, goals for the team are not clear which does not enable people to be successful. The fourth principle is voice and dignity. Charles Moore has a management team that does have a voice, although they use the opportunity to lay blame and defend themselves rather than focus on solutions. Voice and dignity goes beyond the management team. According to Welch in Winning (2005), most people do not say anything because they feel they can’t and they haven’t been asked.

Charles needs to understand the business from every rank and perspective as the company leader. He needs to get into the “trenches”. The only way to accomplish this is by enabling open, candid conversations throughout the organization. Developing a Team Developing a team takes time. This team has been together for four or more years with little to no achievement. The stage of introductions is past, but in reference to the Tuckman model (Tocci, JWI510, W6) the team is in the “forming” stages. Key attributes of this stage are an unclear mission and values, lack of trust, and lack of commitment.

To start an open discussion regarding team dynamics each team member will complete a DiSC assessment and a 360 review. The 360 feedback will include their direct reports, people from within their functional area, people outside of their functional area, and every member of the leadership team. After the results have been compiled a coach will be assigned to each team member to review the results and to develop personal action plans. After these one-on-one sessions, Charlie should bring the team together to share the results of their DiSC assessment.

The purpose of the session is to gain a better understanding of each team member in terms of how they prefer to work and why. Once the DiSC assessment is reviewed, each person will be asked to share the 2-3 personal development goals generated from their time with the coach. As the leader, Charles will start first and show his vulnerability. Sharing goals can help team members be accountable to each other. This enables informal peer to peer coaching to help everyone stay committed to the team. The DiSC assessment and the 360 degree feedback contribute to emotional ntelligence.

Goleman (2000) defines emotional intelligence as the ability to manage ourselves and our relationships effectively. Both of these assessments enable each team member to become more self-aware of their emotions and the impact on their co-workers. Additionally, these tools give an accurate self-assessment of each person’s strengths and limitations. Once each team member understands how they are perceived and their personal DiSC style in relation to others they can begin to make focused improvements on their overall emotional intelligence.

Goleman (2000) found that leaders with strengths in a critical mass of six or more emotional intelligence competencies were more effective than peers that did not have similar strengths. These exercises focus on the bottom of Lencioni’s (2002) pyramid, “Absence of Trust”. The team should encourage each other to be vulnerable and in turn, support the team members that do show vulnerability. Specific Recommendations for the Team Once the team has completed the DiSC and 360 degree feedback tools, the coaching, and the group sharing they are ready to transition their focus to the ability to run a successful business.

At this point, the Ice Cream Division does not have a clear mission or vision. To start this process, the team will start a charter. First, the team must establish an overall mission by understanding the overarching mission of the company. In short, at the executive level, what does the team stand for? Focusing on mission development instead of solving the problem of lost business will allow the team to understand what actions they need to take to align the problem solution to the business strategy.

According to Welch (2005) a mission answers the question: How do we intend to win in this business? Using guidance from Winning (Welch, 2005), the executive team may develop a mission statement that looks like this: The mission of the Chattanooga Ice Cream Division is to become the market leader in Ice cream sales due to our focus on exceptional taste, unique flavors, and our commitment to customers. Once the mission is established the team will begin to generate a charter. This charter will focus on specific activities required to achieve the mission and vision of the organization.

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