Leadership Scenario 5
CHOOSING YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE
A new leader was appointed to oversee a team of reservationists working
for a large travel company. The work of the department involved handling
enquiries and taking reservation bookings for clients. When she started, the
new leader sat with the team members and outlined her expectations and
also addressed some concerns the team had about aspects of the job.
Since then, the team generally worked well and the leader had not had any
major staffing issues to deal with. However, one problem arose
unexpectedly which caused significant difficulties.
One of the girls, the longest-serving and best member of the team, began
taking unscheduled breaks usually towards the end of the day. She was
never gone too long but the leader felt it wasn’t acceptable just to
disappear like that. Upon speaking to her about it, the employee explained
that when she had completed her workload for the day, she did pop out for
an occasional smoke. In any case, she ‘did a lot more work than the others
so she deserved it and anyway it wasn’t affecting anyone else’. The team
leader emphasised that it wasn’t permissible to take unscheduled breaks
because if she allowed her to do it, then everyone would end up expecting
the same. If she had finished her workload for the day, there were other
things that could be done. But despite this chat, the leader noticed that this
girl continued to take unscheduled breaks occasionally.
The leader tried the engaging approach again, hoping to come to a
reasonable agreement but the team member remained obstinate. So the
leader explained that she would no longer tolerate the unscheduled breaks
and the team member reluctantly agreed to stop taking them. But different
problems later arose. Due to not getting her way, the girl’s performance
dropped and she became slower at her work. Over time, she became more
and more difficult and despite the best efforts of the leader in trying to
reason with her, nothing seemed to work. Eventually, this led to disciplinary
action being taken with the girl and ended in her leaving the company of
her own accord.
Before you read on, consider the following:
What was the problem facing the new leader?
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