In consulting Linton, there are two main components that would have to be closely analyzed: Deborah Linton’s leadership style and Lisa Benton’s ability to positively impact her new business environment. Lisa Benton is well educated and experienced in her field; yet, she allows dysfunction to distract her of her ability to contribute. Benton surrendered the power of her voice because she humbled to the intimidation perceived from her supervisor, coercive teammate, and questionable environment.
LINTON MANAGEMENT PROFILE
Deborah Linton is the average person in a leadership role who does not know the difference between management and leadership. Because she does not know the difference, her approach towards Lisa Benton is all wrong for the right reasons. Her initial address to Benton was out of fear versus confidence in her ability to manage a Harvard graduate. Linton’s fear warrants a close investigation of her management style, her conflict resolution, and her measurements of being a leader.
Deborah Linton’s management profile has to be priority in order to accurately identify and effectively address in order to improve her effectiveness. If we were to complete a DiSC Assessment of Linton’s management style, Linton would most likely be a D (Dominance) style manager. Linton had a “sophisticated appearance and confident manner” by which she carried herself in the office. Upon meeting with Lisa Benton for the first time, Linton expresses her discontent with “MBAs [who] act like they know a lot more than they do” (Weber, 1994).
This is reflective of the D style motivation of power and authority. And how blatantly noticeable Linton is forceful and direct when addressing Benton. Immediately, she sets the tone of her position and authority by challenging Benton’s academic success with great insensitivity. Linton’s dominant management style is consistent throughout the article when she addresses Benton on a couple occasions or even her counterpart, Jack Vernon.
The approach with Lisa Benton was misguided from the start which prompts the question, “Who would want to be led by [Linton]?” This question is significant because Goffee and Jones emphasize the importance of followers to leaders. They state that leaders “better know what it takes to lead effectively — they must find ways to engage people and rouse their commitment to company goals” (Jones, 2000). Linton does not give Benton any idea of the current state of the company or how she would like for her department to impact the company’s success.
She did not share her vision for her department and what she expected to produce in a particular time frame. Benton had no clue as to how her role was to impact the Although Linton greeted Benton pleasantly, she negated the meeting by complaining her arrival was a week too early. Benton’s eagerness to contribute to the company’s success was not celebrated or welcomed. This attitude was perpetuated once Linton pushed-off Benton to another product manager, Ron Scoville.
Linton has proven herself to be more of a manager versus a leader. Although Benton was new to the team, Linton places more importance on product management. Priority should have been placed on making sure Benton was properly trained. Linton focused her efforts on “the detailed steps that are necessary to get results” (Lecture, Wk 2). Benton felt like an intruder whenever she stepped to Linton’s office because she was refused regularly. Linton’s lack of concern towards Benton’s development further demonstrates her dominant management style.
Linton not only managed with dominance, but also dealt poorly with resolving conflicts. Thomas and Kilmann would assess that Linton is unassertive and uncooperative when resolving conflict amongst subordinates. Evidenced when Linton resolved conflict between Benton and Scoville by adopting Scoville’s perspective. She addresses Benton by stating “I understand you’re too good for copying” implying that Scoville’s assessment was accurate. According to Thomas-Kilmann, Linton sidesteps the issue and postpones dealing with the conflict. Linton expresses her knowledge of Scoville not being liked in the office despite her personal feelings towards him being “misunderstood” and “having a heart of gold.” In both instances, Linton never truly addressed or resolved the issues. She avoided the issues and encouraged Benton to do the same in the interest of results.
Linton is weak in the area of emotional intelligence. She struggles in the key areas regarding emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Linton is not aware of her own emotional impact on her employees or their emotional challenges. Scoville definitely has emotional challenges made evident through his emotional outbursts with Benton. Benton herself dealt with a great deal of emotional challenges. Linton failed to recognize the emotional challenges and utilizing them to build up her team. Additionally, Linton did not motivate her team members to cooperate or collaborate. She is not able to motivate because she does not empathize with Benton.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LINTON
Using Jack Welch Winning as a mirror to Linton, there are some basic principles that must be established and practiced. First of all, Linton needs to learn her new team. She has a close relationship with Scoville; yet, she needs to consider the chemistry of the team now that Benton is on board. Instead of demeaning Benton and her education, she should set the standard for her performance by giving her a vision, a goal. Linton does not”define where she wants her team to go” (Lecture, Wk 1). Benton never received her objectives or given a set of expectations from which her performance would be measured.
Linton does not know what it takes to be a leader. As mentioned previously, Linton is a manager who believes her position qualifies her as a leader. My first recommendation is for Linton to understand the difference between a manager and a leader. Kotter makes an interesting distinction between management and leadership as being forms of coping. Kotter states that “management is about coping with complexity. Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change” (Kotter, 2001). Linton does not cope well with the change of Benton, an MBA graduate of Harvard, joining the team.
Linton needs to better understand what is characteristic of a leader. Jack Welch specifically details what leaders do. I would encourage Linton to adopt and immediately apply these rules. Of the eight rules that Welch identifies, several rules need to take precedence. “Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team.” Linton spent time pushing Benton away versus taking advantage of the time to coach her. Rule #2 states that “leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it.” Benton did not receive her objectives let alone understand where Linton wanted to take the company.
“Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit,” as stated in Rule #4. Candor will be addressed later; yet, transparency and credit seemed none existent. Linton rarely met with Benton, let alone, allow herself to become open and transparent. In fact, Benton often felt like she was intruding. Lastly, Linton needs to apply the last couple rules of “inspiring risk taking” and “celebrating” her team members. Linton has to celebrate her team members for their contributions and skills they bring.
BENTON LACK OF LEADERSHIP
Lisa Benton is an experienced and educated potential leader who over-analyzes her own situation. Not that she was not qualified for the position, but the she allowed the circumstances to have a “muzzling voice” effect over her. Her prowess and proven success were immediately diminished from her first day on the job. Benton was excited about the opportunity resulting from her interview meetings with energetic employees of Houseworld. If she was to take the DiSC Assessment, Benton would definitely fall in the C (Conscientious) management style.
Before even accepting the position at Houseworld, Benton based her decision not on her ability, but on which company would provide the training she felt was necessary. Benton did not have a vision to buy into or objectives to guide her efforts. Benton falls prey to her limitations of her management style by “overanalyzing” her professional situation and isolating herself with respect to her department.
Despite her professional and academic achievements, Benton went from success to failure in accepting the position at Houseworld. Benton aborted her leadership potential by committing a significant sin of leadership. She did not “give her self-confidence its due.” Jack Welch says that “self-confidence is the lifeblood of success” (Lecture, Wk 8). Benton also made the mistake of listening to rumors about Linton and Scoville having a personal relationship. This dictated her interaction with them and took away her lateral persuasion. Benton was not able to “commit to the success” of Linton.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BENTON
To sum up in one word a recommendation for Lisa Benton, believe. Benton needs to go back to believing in her own mastered knowledge and proven skills to succeed. Benton needs to identify a focus for her efforts. She attempts to invent work for herself absent of Linton’s objectives; yet, becomes extremely frustrated. Her frustration resides in Scoville’s condescending demands and Linton’s nonexistent leadership.
Benton needs to follow the “10 Keys Transition Challenges.” She needs to “promote herself” to the ideal and expectations she had of herself coming into this position. Benton successfully “accelerated her learning, built alliances, and built her network” amongst colleagues outside of her department. Yet, Benton needs to step back and diagnose the situation at Houseworld so she can effectively apply her skills. Additionally, she needs to “build a good relationship with her boss, focus on strategic alignment, build her team, and secure early wins” for herself.
Benton had already built the foundation of lateral leadership which she needed to trust more than fear. Because she feared it she was not able to have the influence with Linton and Scoville that was rightfully due. As suggested in the Art of Persuasion, Benton has to build “credibility” for herself by confidently performing for the reason she was hired. Then she needs to establish “shared benefits” and “memorable evidence” within her department. She has to “vividly describe a comparable situation” from her prior professional successes. Lastly, Benton has to “show emotion” in a more passionate manner towards results and not the explosive fits of frustration.
Although it was not properly implemented, Benton’s performance evaluation was accurate. Linton identified that Benton possessed strengths that she refrained from using. Benton felt this was unjust because she was never really given true direction. Ultimately, Benton is well capable of performing the duties of the position she filled. Benton needed to rise to the occasion, utilize lateral authority and influence, and emphatically believe in herself despite the unfavorable environment.
Welch, Jack,Welch, Suzy. (2005) Winning /New York : HarperBusiness Publishers Hill, Linda A. Lisa Benton (A). Harvard Business School Case 494-114, March 1994. (Revised May 1994.) Kotter, J. P. What Leaders Really Do. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999. Thomas, K. W., & Kilmann, R. H. Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. Mountain View, CA: Xicom, a subsidiary of CPP, Inc. 1974. DiSC Management. Profile Summary
Goffee, R., Jones, G. Why should anyone be led by you? Harvard business review, Vol. 78, No. 5. (Sep 2000)
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