Wolfgang Keller graduated from Harvard Business School at the age of 34 and soon after experienced instantaneous business success in the food manufacturing industry. Keller, drawn to turn around opportunities departed the food manufacturing industry for Konigsbrau brewing. Keller accepted the role of managing director of Konigsbrau subsidiary in the Ukraine. Keller applied his hands on style of management, which brought earning success to the suffering subsidiary.
Keller seemed to be on the successful pathway only to realize he had not yet developed leadership skills that would facilitate his relationship with Dmitri Brodsky.
Brodsky, the commercial director presented a management style polar opposite to that of Keller. Keller, driven to continued success views Brodsky as the last hurdle to complete success at the Konigsbrau subsidiary. Keller, desirous of attention by the firm’s Vorstand for his business success now finds himself noticed by the Vorstand for his inability to solidify his leadership skills.
The black cloud following Wolfgang Keller at Konigsbrau is a product of insufficient time to develop leadership skills.
Keller rapidly moved into a general manager role six months’ postgraduate school and experienced swift and lasting success over the next two years. Enter Dmitri Brodsky commercial director for the Konigsbrau subsidiary who represents the rain falling from Keller’s black cloud. Brodsky, 10 years elder to Keller is talented in his ability to design a sales team and provide a well-orchestrated flow of information.
Unfortunately, Brodsky does not possess the same angst as Keller when presented with a complex customer problem.
Brodsky’s leadership suffers from his lack of personal contact with subordinates’ and unwillingness to develop personal relationships with Konigsbrau’s lifeblood, the distributers. Keller’s approach to leadership is developing personal relationships with subordinates while fostering his micromanagement style of leadership. Throughout the case study, two notable issues come to light
Jack Welch stated, Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence (2005, p. 63). Keller obviously missed opportunities to apply this leadership rule in working with Brodsky. Missed opportunities evidenced by the explosive exchanges during Brodsky’s evaluations. These explosive exchanges happened not one year but two years running. In Winning, Jack Welch states, “Too often managers think that people development occurs once a year in the performance reviews” (2005, p. 6). Had Keller taken occasion to evaluate Brodsky’s performance on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis the evaluation presentation would not have been a surprise to Brodsky. Brodsky’s attempt to discuss a pending lawsuit against Konigsbrau presented by a distributer with no success represents the last opportunity lost we will discuss. Keller, leaving Brodsky in the dark took it upon himself to discuss the lawsuit with the disgruntled distributer. Keller was successful in his discussion but failed again as a leader.
Welch states, Self-confidence energizes, and it gives your people the courage to stretch, take risks, and achieve beyond their dreams. It is the fuel of winning teams (2005, p. 66). Had Keller taken the time to apply the first rule of leadership, Keller’s success as a leader would have been elevated and Brodsky, feeling energized and confident would have been willing to investigate the leadership style of Keller moving forward. Keller’s second issue surrounds his inability to identify a dysfunctional team. In the book The five Dysfunctions of a team, Lencioni mentions the first dysfunction is absence of trust (2002, p. 88). To be clear Lencioni describes trust as confidence among members that their peer’s intentions are good, and there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. He goes on to discuss the importance of vulnerability with each other in a group (2002, p. 195). In review of the case study it is obvious Keller has never exhibited trust toward Brodsky and equally so in the reverse. As the leader, Keller’s duty first to Konigsbrau and second to Brodsky is to build a team that can function in the face of adversity.
There is no mention throughout the case study where Keller has completed a soul-searching exercise into how Brodsky’s team viewed their leaders’ style. Interestingly enough Keller did experience a meeting where the team depicted Keller’s micromanagement style in a special organizational chart. Keller ignorantly placed this loud message as to the dislike of his style on his office wall. Keller also does not take one moment to recognize that Brodsky’s failures are a direct correlation to Keller’s failure. Keller does receive a letter from his supervisor that solidifies this oncept. In a letter from Dr. Hanspeter Haussler it states that Haussler doubts Keller’s ability to work as a team. With the confirmation from Haussler Keller remains oblivious to his failure. Moving forward Keller must acknowledge his role in Brodsky’s perceived failure far beyond stating he acknowledges being in the weeds of management while attempting to lead a company. Keller must devote time to Brodsky one-on-one and further assist, coach, and mentor Brodsky while assisting in his team development.
Keller must acknowledge Brodsky’s beliefs as Brodsky must acknowledge Keller’s; this exercise is building trust between one another. Keller must, as Welch states make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it (2005, p. 67). Keller must fully layout his business plan to Brodsky. Keller must include Brodsky’s team in this exercise. If Brodsky had one success in the study it was the impressive work completed working on the budget process. Keller acknowledged this only internally, missing an opportunity to build self-confidence and acknowledge Brodsky’s ability to be successful.
Finally, Brodsky must make the decision that he is willing to apply himself to all the same rigorous changes Keller faces as well. To date, in all fairness to Keller, Dmitri Brodsky has not brought any solutions to the table. In the end both Keller and Brodsky must exhibit emotional intelligence that will allow complete success. References Lencioni, P. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002), San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers Welch, J. and Welch, S. Winning (2005), New York, NY: HarpersCollins Publishers