Jack Carlisle in the Business World and Case Study

Excerpt from Case Study :

Jack Carlisle

In the business world, and particularly in the context of big companies, change is often at the order of the day. The problem is, however, that change also incurs a large amount of uncertainty and conflict, not only among employees, but also between employees and their superiors. This could severely affect the way in which business is conducted, and has the potential to harm rather than promote effective business operations. In the case of Jack Carlisle, for example, communication, or the lack thereof, is causing uncertainty that could lead to severe consequences for the business and the lives involved if not handled with care.

At the heart of the problematic issues the company faces is communication. Giles is much more reserved than Hansen, which creates uncertainty regarding his thinking. When employees face the possibility of change and possibly also being let go from the company, this type of leadership communication exacerbates the problem to an even higher degree. This is also the case in Jack's situation. Giles, while indicating his satisfaction with Carlisle's work, has not given any direct indication that he would prefer Carlisle to continue such work at his company.

Carlisle, in turn, has been faced with considerable conflict from company personnel and leadership in terms of how he handled his IT implementations. While he did what was best for the company, the result was that some personnel and leaders cultivated resentment regarding the way it was done. Carlisle's uncertainty regarding Giles's opinion stems from the fact that he is not certain how Giles feels about him personally, or about the way that he has been conducting his work. This has created uncertainty for him in terms of his future with the company, and his reaction has been to potentially look for other positions with other companies.

The problem that this creates from the company's and Giles's point-of-view is that the company would lose a very good employee. Carlisle has shown himself to effectively create programs and drives for the benefit of the company. He has provided the company with a competitive edge by identifying the problems the company faces, as well as handling these within an effective time frame. He therefore has a proven track record as an effective worker and problem solver. Giles's lack of interpersonal communication, even after Carlisle attempted to reach out, is a poor leadership strategy that could cause him to lose Carlisle from his workforce. This would compound the company's problems, as it would entail finding someone else to fill Carlisle's position, as well as training the person to handle his considerable responsibilities.

As mentioned, the heart of the problem is communication. Both Carlisle and Giles are now faced with a number of options. Carlisle, for example, could choose to confront Giles directly. His "reaching out" during the meeting was subtle, but not obtuse. Giles, however, is not known for his open communication skills and disseminates information on a very selective basis. To overcome this and arrive at greater certainty regarding his future, one option for Carlisle is therefore to openly ask Giles about it. The outcome could be traumatic, but then at least Carlisle would no longer have to operate under a cloud of uncertainty that could affect his work.

On the other hand, clear, open communication should be part and parcel of a leader's work. According to Ambler (2009), for example, a lack of clear and direct communication also means a lack of leadership. Because this could directly affect the future of the company, Giles's communication style lacks proper leadership. He is unable to relate to his employees exactly what their standing is in the company. Furthermore, his recent hiring and firing practices, especially in terms of key personnel in the company, have created even greater uncertainty at a very sensitive time. Effective leadership communication also means that such communication should occur in a way that helps personnel handle company transitions. The company is currently in crisis, because key personnel are not certain of their position and their future in the company.

One solution to this problem is that Giles should take responsibility and openly communicate with his employees. Such communication should focus on two paradigms: the general company, and individual personnel. In the general mode, Giles could send an email to all company personnel, explaining the nature of the change and its reasons as clearly as could be allowed by the protocols that are in place. He should also honestly express his intention to restructure the company and how severance packages are to be offered. On the individual level, Giles should communicate with key personnel such as Carlisle. These communications should involve an open conversation regarding the how these personnel see their future at the company, whether they have an attitude that promotes the company's goals, and whether both the personnel member in question and Giles feel that they are still a good match for each other. In Carlisle's case, he clearly believes that he can still be of use to the company, but Giles's tight-lipped strategy makes it difficult to surmise whether he would agree with such an assessment or not.

Bulmer (2010) suggests that a core leadership issue is difficult decisions. Leaders need to follow effective strategies to make these decisions as proactive and inclusive as possible. One strategy Bulmer suggests in order to accomplish this is that the managers must work to understand the core issues from which the challenges spring, and that this understanding should be considered from as many angles and perspectives as possible. A good way to accomplish this is also communication with key personnel.

Giles completes this step partially by communicating openly with Carlisle in terms of his IT work and team. He seems to be willing to help Carlisle where necessary, while letting Carlisle work independently where this seems to be required. In general, he does not seem like a bad leader. However, he seems to be unaware that his lack of interpersonal openness could cost his company valuable asset in terms of personnel and work hours spent training new personnel.

Sykes (2011) suggests that the company mission should be at the core of all leadership decisions. In the case of Giles and his company, this seems to be a primary concern. While Carlisle worked hard to establish a core mission for the company, it seems that Giles is not as much concerned with communicating the mission to his employees as it is to remain cryptic regarding the future of the company.

When considered realistically, it is unlikely that Giles would take the initiative in creating an effective platform of communication. Carlisle is therefore faced with three options: First, he could simply wait and see what the future holds for him and the company. In this case, his uncertainty would increase until he receives specific communication from Giles. This could take a long time and affect both is work and family life in terms of stress.

A second option is to hand in his resignation and leave before any management decisions are made. This would create a new opportunity for Carlisle, without the stress factors he is facing under Giles. However, it appears that Carlisle is enthusiastic about making his relationship with Giles and his position in the company work. Furthermore, he knows he is good at the work he does, and that he can continue to be an asset to the company. This option is therefore only viable as a last resort.

Finally, Carlisle could choose to speak openly and directly to Giles. This communication would entail Carlisle's future at the company and whether Giles agrees that they can work well together. Carlisle and Giles will have to create a communication strategy to suit both them and the company in order to function optimally within their business environment.…

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