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Organizational Behavior - Analysis of Problems with the Top Leader Team at Greenlife

Whenever an organization changes in any way, central problems in organizational behavior often result (Rousseau, 1997; Barley & Kunda 1992; Goodstein, 1994). This is evident within Greenlife, where the top leader team is demonstrating some critical failures and lack of cooperation.

Organizational moral behavior can only be obtained through a true "cooperative effort among all employees" (Holmes, et. al, 2002, p. 85) which is not the case at Greenlife. With the change in executive management that recently occurred between Lucy and Jane, things have gone awry, and the organizational structure at present more resembles a dictatorship than democratic environment. Jane has taken over and rather than encouraged top leader participation and collaboration, she has fostered an environment of dissent based on forced control and the illusion of consent.

A management is a successful organization has the responsibility of carrying the "moral freight" of an organization with regard to behavior and must be able to "communicate a shared sense of moral purpose" to employees and other staff members (Holmes, et. al, 2002, p. 85) again clearly not the case at Greenlife. Jane has communicated her purpose to employees, and encouraged them forcefully to adopt her principles rather than offered employees the opportunity to share dissenting views in a safe and embracing environment.

From an organizational behavior perspective top management should assume the role of motivator and has a role supporting adherence to moral behaviors of employees and itself (Irvine & Lindsay, 1994). In this case the top leader, Jane has assumed the new role of CEO but rather than motivate her fellow top leaders, she has instead subverted their personalities and forced her ideas of the perfect management system upon them without adequately asking for their opinions or honest insight. There are some studies that suggest that when problems are evident within top management and top management display a "willful ignorance" of problems that a message of incompetence is sent to employees (Thompson, 1993, p. 64).

Leaders in an organization must be ethical and charismatic, and can achieve this by promoting a value system encouraging employees and other members of top management to challenge the "status quo" and offer honest opinions that are welcome regarding change (Howell & Avolio, 1992, p. 50). Lucy hired Jane because within her she saw the possibility of a charismatic leader. Instead of inspiring her top leaders to achieve greatness however, Jane has subverted their free will and encouraged them to adopt her strategies only, which see assumes are the right ones.

Further some studies go on to suggest that unethical leaders are those that require dependent and compliant followers, which is a pattern exhibited by Jane (Howell & Avolio, 1992, p. 50). Jane has learned to rationalize her inappropriate behavior that forces top management members into subservience rather than allowing them to work as members of a true team, and she has convinced herself and other top management members to a certain extent (with the exception of Patrick) that her plan is moral and correct.

Team conflict can actually be beneficial from an organizational behavior perspective. A good leader should actually encourage good disputes, not prevent conflict or discourage disputes (Caudron, 2000, p. 5). Jane attempts control be limiting dissent and discouraging differing opinions. Rather she has worked to convince herself that consensus is best and is best achieved through autocratic and influential behavior.

However, good disputes, those which allow top management members to disagree with one another freely and constructively, can add value if the leader helps do the following: (1) helps team members look for shared goals and win-win situations, (2) clarify, sort and value differences among team members, (3) gain people's commitment to changing their attitudes when necessary, and (4) analyze why conflicts keep occurring (Caudron, 2000, p. 5). Jane has accomplished none of these important aspects of managing team conflict. Instead of encouraging the team to look for shared goals, she has basically dictated to the group that her goals are the right ones and asked for consensus. Anyone expressing a dissenting opinion is criticized. She has certainly not worked toward gaining Patrick's commitment in her endeavors, which will be a necessary component if she wishes to succeed in her role of CEO in the future. She has also failed to encourage the team to analyze their differences.

The primary emphasis of the top leader management trainings should be encouraging employees to nurture constructive conflict and differences of opinion and to improve their reflective listening, problem solving, collaboration, negotiation and communication skills (Caudron, 2000, p. 5).

A one-size-fits-all program is rarely successful from an organizational management and behavioral approach; rather managers should view differences as a means to add value and encourage communication that encourages thought and lead to innovation (Caudron, 2000, p. 5). In Greenlife, Jane has attempted to create a "one-size-fits-all" program for managing her top leaders which is not working and causing dissent and forced agreement.

A primary source of conflict may be employees who work outside of their comfort zones, (Caudron, 2000) which may be the case with Patrick, who is not comfortable in the role delegated to him by his mother. He expresses hidden resentment and rather than work toward the common good of the team has been working on separating the team further, piece by piece.

Patrick has been operating under the pretense of a hidden agenda, never agreeing with anyone says despite an outward appearance of consensus. This is common in a complex organizational setting where one or more members of top management have not taken the time to consider whether a participant has a hidden agenda until too late (Clark, 2000, p. 65). This is evident as Patrick explodes in the final meeting. Though Lucy has for some time recognized his dissatisfaction and mutterings, she has not taken action to address them, nor has Jane. Rather he has been silently (or not so silently) creating dissent and undermining Jane rather than supporting her in a team effort, which should be his primary consideration.


To help stop the undermining pattern of behavior that Patrick is embarking on Jane and Lucy have to be direct, asking him if he has issues and concerns and asking his opinion of how things might work better before moving on (Clark, 2000, p. 5). Further they should consider asking other employees about their opinions and whether or not they have any information about hidden dissent or unrest in order to get things out in the open (Clark, 2000, p. 5).

Hiam (1998) suggests that there are nine bad habits that prevent people from thinking creatively and collaboratively in reference to work problems, among them include the failure to ask questions (giving the example of a typical staff meeting where the leader fails to ask for creative ideas), failure to record ideas generated, failure to revisit ideas and give old ideas a second chance and failure to express ideas (p. 30).

Solomon particularly has the problem of not expressing his ideas right away; his ideas are cut back by and "automatic" self-censorship (Hiam, 1998, p. 30) because he tells himself perhaps that they are not worthy. He should be encouraged to write down all of his ideas even ones he believes are unworthy and bring them to the table for discussion.

Jane and Patrick are both suffering from a habit of failing to think in new ways; they are limiting themselves by not getting out of the box and instead doing what they have always done (Hiam, 1998). This too can limit creativity and ingenuity. Jane for example hires individuals she is comfortable with.

The focus should also be on encouraging the top management team to lead themselves and become more self-managing rather than simply follow the direction and management dictation offered from Jane (Manz, 1992). One way that Jane could encourage this behavior is by encouraging activities that are self-directed during her management training sessions. During her leadership training, she specifically started each day with a workshop she designed without input from other members of her management team. A more collaborative approach would have been to allow top leaders to each take turns coming up with a motivational and inspiring leadership activity for each different day or segment of her training program.

A shift to a more flexible organization to a method of organizing activities that encourages constructive dissent and creativity will introduce new elements into the organizational scheme and foster continued learning, growth and acceptance of new methods for leadership and direction (Rousseau, 1997).

Thus Jane should also work toward encouraging her tope leaders to express divergent opinions about what methods can best be utilized to manage and structure the organization. She should write down all of the ideas generated by her team in order to foster communication. This is not to say that all of these ideas have to be adopted and enacted, however every idea is worth consideration. Top leaders can take…[continue]

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