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Coaching Makena Lane Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
1827 3448 Words (13 Pages) Ethan S. Bernstein, Om Lala Harvard Business School : 418031
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Makena should also be promoted because she learned through her coaching and changed her style of leadership. She used to be dominating and had an aggressive approach towards tasks. She had a task-oriented approach and focused more on completion of tasks and meeting goals, instead of the development of her team. However, after training, she became more popular with her team as instead of directing, she started coaching individual team members. Moreover, she should be promoted as she felt good after changing her style of leadership. Makena had a centralized approach towards decision-making. She did not involve her team and made instant decisions without considering her team members. After training, she became more decentralized and delegated tasks to her team members. Her success can be assessed by her team members’ view that they felt more delegated and empowered. She also gave them a chance to undertake presentations, which gave them a sense of belonging.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution

  1. Describe Makena from a Transformational Leadership perspective. What are her strengths and weaknesses? How did she seek to change this? 

  2. Describe Makena from a Transactional Leadership perspective. What did she do that was effective, what was ineffective?

  3. How did Makena try to influence those around her: what tactics did she use, why, what impact did they have?

  4. What do you see as Makena’s driving values, how did she demonstrate these, what was the impact?

  5. How would you describe Makena’s way of working with others: Describe her from an approach/avoidance perspective and from a conflict management style perspective? What impact did her approach to relationships have on her success, on the 365’s success?

  6. Would you promote Makena at this time? Why? Why not? Whatever your decision, what are you most concerned about if you are Mills?  

Case Analysis for Coaching Makena Lane Case Solution

1. Describe Makena from a Transformational Leadership perspective. What are her strengths and weaknesses? How did she seek to change this? 

Transformational leadership perspective concerns the theory of bringing about a change by having a vision, which drives the inspiration and the commitment (Eisenbach, Watson, & Pillai, 1999). As a transformational leader, Makena did well in bringing about the required strategic transformation at 365 Emporium. Makena helped yield quite attractive financial results for the company through the transformation, which was a plus point. However, her major weakness was demonstrated by the fact that there were many old employees within the company that left under her leadership, thus reflecting on the higher staff turnover. For a transformational leader, it is essential to ensure that team culture is promoted and that there is a strong bonding among the employees to achieve the highest level of productivity and efficiency during the change process (Dionne, Yammarino, Atwater, & Spangler, 2004). However, team building was not fully demonstrated in the case of the leadership under Makena. Although some employees had left because of lack of skills needed but the majority of the employees who left were dissatisfied by Makena's style of leadership, which they considered was quite rude and dominating. Makena had failed to establish good relations with her team, which is why they rated her quite low in relational skills (Carter, Armenakis, Feild, & Mossholder, 2013).

Makena’s major strength involved in the fact that she was very passionate about her work and seizing opportunities and turning them into reality. This is why 365 Emporium considered her to be a very valuable asset despite receiving negative feedback about her from her fellow employees. Lane was found to be outstanding during her interviews as she focused on quick decision making to grab the opportunities and take on new challenges to achieve greater benefits. Secondly, Lane was an initiative taker as could be seen in the way she identified gaps in the current processes and took action by aligning the departments, changing company’s existing strategies to be in line with the competitor’s strategies. These actions helped Makena achieve her aims of bringing impressive financial benefits to 265 Emporium.

Makena's major weakness was her inability to act as a team player, which resulted in her fellow employees having bad things to say about her and also contributed to employees in her team resigning from their job, which reflected badly on her profile. As a result, Lane underwent through coaching to become an even inspiring leader. She improved her relational skills by learning the importance of listening to her team members and delegating rather than just giving them orders, worked on improving her health through diet and proper relaxation, which would help deal with her abrasive behavior, and learned to drive growth through sustainable means focusing on self-generation (Hay, 2010). These aimed to help overcome her weakness and promote higher staff retention, stronger team building, increased innovation and a favorable organizational culture.

2. Describe Makena from a Transactional Leadership perspective. What did she do that was effective, what was ineffective?

Transactional Leadership perspective concerns with the leadership traits involving supervision, organization and monitoring of the performance (Shivers-Blackwell, 2006). In such form of leadership, the transactional leader reinforces the performance of team members through rewards and punishments. When Makena worked on a project involving improving customer experience, in which she showed to her coworkers how the leading retailers managed their customers, her coworkers became defensive of her actions. This shows that she was not effective in ensuring the performance of the relevant departments as she wanted, as they considered her ways foreign and were not very much motivated by her ways of doing things (Barbuto Jr, 2005). Had she taken different departments on board and clearly instructed and informed them about the plan, she would have been successful in gaining their confidence.

Secondly, a transactional leader develops his or her reputation as the controlling authority, which results in easy supervision (McCleskey, 2014). However, this was not in the case of Makena Lane. This is because when Lane asked for retrieval of heavy data to ensure data-driven decision-making, much of Lane's colleagues were not quite happy with the idea and instead considered such requirements to be complex and time-wasting leading to no results. Apart from this, based on her data analysis, Lane severed relations with the company’s old vendors compelling them to change ways or end relationship. This can be considered a hasty decision on part of Makena Lane.

Transactional Leadership also concerns with the path-goal theory, Contingency Theory and Management by Exception. In the path-goal theory, similar to the transactional leadership, as it involves creating achievable goals for the team members, on the completion of which, the management gets rewarded. The tasks are outlined and the completion of these are motivated by a set of rewards and punishments. However, in the case of Makena, she was ineffective in ensuring that all the team members were on the same page and were working towards identical goals. Hence, they were unsure as to Makena's strategy. Also, since Makena no longer prioritized precedent practices, her fellow team members had little confidence in her. Furthermore, she did not appreciate the team members for their efforts nor took their opinion, rather ordered them and asked them to do things, which made them feel unimportant and hence was a cause for their lost motivation. Apart from this, transactional leadership also follows the concept of management by exception since it requires that the tasks that are happening in the flow should be dealt with normally. However, in case of exceptional cases like above expectations, performance should be motivated by rewards, similarly, poor performance should be dealt with corrective measures. However, in the case of Lane, when the employees were not satisfied with her beauty to make over strategy, Lane did not make any efforts to convince them, rather imposed the change on them, which adversely affected their performance. She did not take any corrective measures, instead allowed many long term employees to leave voluntarily or involuntarily, thus creating resistance against her among the other co-workers.

3. How did Makena try to influence those around her: what tactics did she use, why, what impact did they have?

Makena had a very influencing personality as she was always on the look for opportunities and worked on ways to grab them to transform into financial benefits. She had this nature of performing her best that even when she was promoted to AP, Lane was disappointed in herself instead of achieving the highest possible rank. Hence, this way she acted as a role model for her team members by demonstrating the need to continuously improve and seek what was there in the top. 

Furthermore, Lane influenced others by her need for coordination between teams. When she joined 365, she sensed the lack of coordination between departments. Hence, she forced alignment between the departments and developed success plans for each of them. She took a strong stance to influence others so that it became easy for her to achieve the organization goals. It created a huge impact on Lane's colleagues, as they perceived Lane to be of a strong nature. However, some of them did not view Lane as a good leader, as her way of leadership was too aggressive. Moving on, Lane tried to influence others by introducing them to other teams. He tried to influence her team by teaching them the way other teams work. She organized company-sponsored trips to New York and Hong Kong to expose her co-workers to how leading retailers approached the customer journey. She introduced her team to one of her contacts, with whom she and her team would take tours, learning the different ways of packaging and retailers. Her main purpose in doing so was the development of her team. Acquiring knowledge and exploring other ways of approaching things helps in the development of employees (Van Der Vegt & Bunderson, 2005). Senior management appreciated Lane for this and believed it to be an effective strategy. However, it did not have a good impact on her team and colleagues, as they perceived Lane as too rigid on her old ways and thinking that the team was not skilled enough and needed training. Another way that Lane influenced others was asking for the input of her colleagues, which she learned from negative feedback. Before proceeding with an idea, she learned to ask her team for input, and whether they thought the idea was worthy of implementation. Involving the team in the idea-generation and decision-making process makes them feel empowered and motivated (Cook & Charlotte Clarke, 2001). With time, Lane learned how to make others feel empowered. She learned that in presentations and group meetings, delegation is better than doing all tasks alone. She learned that delegating presentations to her team members is far more effective than delivering them all by herself. This is why Lane decided to influence her team by delegating more so that they feel empowered. It started getting better results and left a positive impact on employees.

4. What do you see as Makena’s driving values, how did she demonstrate these, what was the impact?

Makena Lane had certain values that were the key reasons why she was hired. Firstly, Lane was a visionary. She had a long-term vision and plan while at work. This was demonstrated by the fact that she never prioritized practicality. She made sure practicality was not a priority for her team while solving problems. Her inspiration was Steve Jobs, and she paralleled his approach at work. Lane said that she would not be interested in pursuing an idea that was practical but would not lead the market. Instead, her focus would be on what could be possible instead of what could be practical. Having a long-term vision is the key to effective management (Kapferer, 2008).

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