Leadership by Example, A Case Study

Posted on April 3, 2010

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Team Leadership, photo from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Mark is a sales manager of a housing company. As the company prepares to launch a large scale state of the art residential apartment, plans have been made to carry out an ambitious 72 hours sales initiative, where the sales agent of Mark’s team will take turns and take positions at various locations in the city which enjoys high traffic and aggressively promote the upcoming launch of the apartment, with the goal to achieve sales of eighty percent of the units available.

On the day of the launch, however, Mark was no where to be seen. In the eight different locations of city squares, train stations and shopping complexes, the sales agents were wondering where their manager was, but were still enthusiastic in getting their jobs done and achieving their goals anyway. At a point in time, the rain came, and resulted in many of the agents to get drench in the process, but they still braved the storm and did their job anyway. By the late afternoon, many of them were hungry but due to a lack of manpower, still swallowed their hunger and got their jobs done anyway.

Finally, when the long and daunting 72 hours ended, the results of the sales project was consolidated, only to discover that the team fell short of 13 units. Rather than being given the two days of off that the team deserved, Mark summoned the team to his office for a big dressing down for failing to hit the target. Never once did he commend them for their effort, for braving the weather, for going without food. It turned out that Mark was, all these times, hiding within the comforts of his office, enjoying its luxurious facilities and monitoring the progress at his own leisure. Off course he wouldn’t comprehend why the team missed the mark. Off course he wouldn’t realise the sacrifices that the team made just to get the results they did. Off course he wouldn’t appreciate the hard work put in.

All too often, we hear statements by employees that their bosses “have no clue as to what is going on”. While these sweeping statements may not always be reflective, we can understand why feel as they do, as we contemplate on the case above.

Forgan, on the other hand, is a foreman in a construction firm. Forgan’s team has been running late on schedule for completing the piling for their shopping mall project. This has been due to a series of unfortunate events, including a week of thunderstorm and a delay in the arrival of the steel bars. The morale of his workers are at rock bottom, as they become increasingly worn out from their long hours at work and bleak outlook for finishing the project on time.

Being always there with them, Forgan clearly understands their gloom and lack of motivation, yet he knows the serious consequences of being late to complete the project to the team, including the possible firing of at least half the members. However, rather than chiding the workers for their low productivity, Forgan decided to join in the work himself as he multi-tasks with his role of supervision, and does so at full force. Instantly, this allows the workers to come to the revelation that their supervisor understands their problems, knows their difficulty, and yet is willing bring himself to their level and fight alongside them. This creates an immense sense of inspiration and respect, as well as awareness of the severity of the situation, and motivates the team to eventually complete the task by the deadline.

Here, we see a#mce_temp_url# in action. In terms of outcome, leadership by example evidently produces a more efficient workforce. In the shoes of our team members, the leaders determination may be the reason for them to put in the extra effort to see to mission success.

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