Quiz 15: Leadership


Company M, a medical insurance provider, recently brought in a manager to increase efficiency of the customer service department. Although, the efficiency increased, turnover and employee dissatisfaction also increased. This lead to increase in customer complaints due to the higher number of inexperienced representatives answering calls. The department has been managed for many years by E, who had worked up through the customer service department to become the manager. E's leadership style was a servant leader style, where she focused on enabling the representatives to do their job through training, flexibility in breaks, and a focus on the goal of fully satisfying the customer when they called in. This management style leads to high employee satisfaction, high customer satisfaction, and a high level of loyalty among the staff. It also has some weaknesses, in particular the model lead to inefficiency in the department, with representatives being able to handle fewer calls than other customer service centers and corresponding to higher costs. E's sources of influence were highly personal: • Make people like you: The representatives liked E, because she was supportive of their needs and spent time understanding their situation. • Reciprocity: E gave what she could to her representatives, and they responded by working their hardest in return. • Develop allies : E spent a lot of time talking to the representatives, and making sure they understood her goals and she understood their needs and concerns. • Reward positive behaviors: E rewarded the behaviors she felt were most important, by focusing on the representatives fully meeting the customer's needs during the call.

Leadership style is a combination of basic characteristics of a person, like people vs. task orientation, and skills, such as speaking and listening. The basic characteristics required of leader remain the same; these skills can be developed through practice. However many of such traits are natural or genetic to the leader. But the modus operandi of different leaders cannot be same. The way these leaders practice is dependent on their interpersonal skills, past experiences, rapport with team etc. However, if clear guidelines are given to the leaders about practicing their leadership, the variation between their tactics can be controlled.

Vice president J has a dilemma: her employee D has been spending time outside of work volunteering at a local youth center, an activity the company strongly supports. However, he has been insisting that his employees should work for the center also, on an unpaid basis. When vice president J talks to D, she needs to emphasize the voluntary nature of the employee work for the youth center, and make sure he understands that he cannot coerce staff to do so, or allow their choice to impact their employee appraisals. Vice president J should also discussed with her boss the possibility of setting a specific hourly amount of time that the staff is allowed to work on volunteer projects during company hours, since they do want to encourage this activity. They might also set up a request process for supplies to support volunteer work, such as postage and printing. This would allow for employees to support outside volunteer work without impacting their personal life.