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Benton Case Essay

2182 words - 9 pages

Executive Summary
Lisa Benton is a Harvard MBA who had completed a successful internship with Right-Away stores, a convenience store chain in Chicago. Although she was offered an attractive position at Right-Away, Benton chose to accept a lower-paying, a junior position at Houseworld because of the company’s greater prestige and reputation for offering excellent classical marketing training in a structured environment (Weber, 1994). Benton’s new boss, Deborah Linton, offered a cool reception. Linton made clear during their first meeting with Benton that she did not like Harvard MBAs and gave the impression that she had no time to help train and familiarize her new team member. Instead, ...view middle of the document...

When Benton pushed her boss for her three-month performance review, Linton notes included feedback that she was not assertive enough and did not take the initiative. Benton felt frustrated that her strengths were not identified and that she received negative feedback as a result of conflicting messages she received from Scoville, who had repeatedly emphasized her role as learner. Concerned that conflicts with her team might jeopardize her future career, Benton questioned whether she should request a transfer to another department or admit that the job at Houseworld was a mistake and try to return to Right-Away.
Linton’s leadership approach
Deborah Linton was extremely well competent and possessed an impressive track record in brand business. She has an impressive and sophisticated personality, but she was lacking in possessing a genuine leadership style. Moreover, she was not a good trainer and never appreciated the new talent at all in an optimistic manner. To assess behavior and personality related attributes, the DiSC management assessment could qualify Linton to be a Conscientiousness and Dominance (CD) style, where she was quite successful in achieving goals and objectives. However, fears from her company’s policy to recruit MBA graduates to join Houseworld made it difficult for Linton and Scoville to be promoted as they thought not having an MBA degree might be a drawback for them and hence nurtures their negative attitudes toward MBAs. So this notion had Linton act as impatient, insensitive and tendency to be overly critical. This is evident from Linton’s first meeting with Benton as she said, “MBA’s act like they know a lot more than they do” (Webber, 1994), thus Linton's behavior blocked Lisa's development of her expert power before knowing Lisa’s previous success and/or strengths.
Furthermore, Linton’s coercive leadership style has affected the overall climate of the division and the relationship between her and Lisa. The “do what I say” approach “inhibits the organization’s flexibility and dampens employees motivation” (Goleman, 2000), which made Lisa feel disrespected and little accountability for her performance. According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, Linton handled conflict by the competing approach (assertive and uncooperative). Because her division “was becoming increasingly dominated by people holding MBAs” (Weber, 1994) and the resentment she had towards MBAs, Linton felt that she needed to use whatever necessary power to put her foot on the ground by sending a clear message that “I’m the boss, so we’ll do it my way” (Davidson, 2001). Moreover, not making time for Lisa Benton, Linton was not able to understand what kind of learner Benton was and how to help her get better results. Hence, Linton was not able to “inspire and motivate” Benton which is one of the hallmarks that “differentiate a manager from a leader” (Kotter, 1999). Linton’s cool reception to Lisa and the negative attitude, she...

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