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Homework answers / question archive / Ashley, a department head in the assembly division of Micro Electronics, recently took a leadership development course sponsored by the company

Ashley, a department head in the assembly division of Micro Electronics, recently took a leadership development course sponsored by the company


Ashley, a department head in the assembly division of Micro Electronics, recently took a leadership development course sponsored by the company. The major thrust of the course was to teach managers and supervisors how to implement participative leadership. In the words of the course leader: “Today, almost all employees want to get involved. They want a say in all important decisions affecting them. The era of the industrial dictator has been gone for a while.” Ashley was mildly skeptical about the course leader’s universal endorsement of participative leadership. Yet she decided that if this is what the company wanted, she would adopt a more participative style. Ashley took extensive notes on how to implement participative leadership. Six months after the leadership development program was completed, the human resources department attempted to evaluate its impact. One part of the evaluation consisted of interviews with managers who had attended the program. Managers were asked how they liked the program and how it helped them. Another part of the program evaluation was to speak to employees about how the program influenced their boss’s approach to supervision. Rick, the company training director, conducted several of the interviews with employees. He spoke first with Amy, a supervisor reporting to Ashley. Rick told Amy that her answers would be confidential. He said that the purpose of these interviews was to evaluate the leadership training program, not to evaluate the manager. Amy responded, “It would be okay with me if Ashley did hear my comments. I have nothing critical to say. I think that the leadership training program was very useful. Ashley is a much better manager now than in the past. She’s much more aware that people in her group have something useful to contribute. Ashley asks our opinion on everything. “I’ll give you an example,” Amy continued. “Ashley was going to order a new multi purpose printer and copier. In the past she might have just ordered the machine and told us when it would be delivered. Instead, we held three meetings to decide which multi-purpose machine to purchase. Three of us formed a committee to study the problem. We finally chose a printer/copier that everybody in the office agreed would be okay, including the office assistant.” Amy concluded, “I think that every manager at Micro should learn how to be a participative leader.” Rick then spoke to Kent, another supervisor reporting to Ashley. Kent said he appreciated the fact that interviews would be confidential; however, he hoped that the drift of his comments would get back to Ashley so long as he was not identified. Kent offered this evaluation: “Ashley has gone downhill as a manager ever since she took your training program. She has become lazier than ever. Ashley always did have a tendency to pass off too much work to her supervisors and other employees. Now she’s gone overboard. The recent purchase of the printer/copier is a good example. Too many people spent too much time deciding which machine to purchase. To make matters worse, a committee of three people was formed to research the matter. It seems to me we can make better use of our time on the job. “If Ashley keeps up her approach to leadership much longer, she won’t have a job. We will all be doing her work. How can you justify a department head’s salary if other people are doing her work?” Rick thought to himself, “I wonder if Amy and Kent are talking about the same manager. Their comments make it difficult for me to know whether the leadership development program is getting the job done.”

Case Questions

1. How do you explain the different perceptions of Amy and Kent?

2. What might be wrong with the leadership development program?

3. What suggestions can you offer for making better use of participative leadership?

4. What would be the counterargument to Kent’s point of view about Ashley not justifying her pay?

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