1. “At the senior management level, you get hired for competence. You get fired for personality.” In your opinion, is this statement true or false? How does it relate to Barry Carver and his current leadership style?
2. Identify the behaviors described in this case that were damaging to Barry Carver’s work relationships. Why would a manager behave this way? What negative consequences did these behaviors have on his peers and subordinates?
3. How realistic is it that Carver (or anyone) can change his own leadership skills? What kind of help might he need?
Environmental Designs International When Lee Keiko returned from a quick lunch, she scanned her e-mail inbox for the message she had been dreading. She found it, labeled “high priority,” among a dozen other e-mails and sank back in her chair as she mentally prepared to open it. Keiko felt a tightening in her stomach as she clicked on the message and braced herself for the assault she had grown to expect from Barry Carver, her boss at Environmental Designs International (EDI), a rapidly growing “green” company that specializes in retrofitting commercial buildings to improve their energy efficiency. The primary clients of EDI are owners of skyscrapers who renovate their buildings to reduce energy use and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, a contributor to global warming. Within these towering skyscrapers, the largest energy guzzlers are lighting, cooling, and heating. Owners of New York City’s Empire State Building expect to reduce the skyscraper’s energy use by 38 percent by the year 2013 at an annual savings of $4.4 million after this 78-year-old building is retrofitted. Keiko had expected Carver’s scathing e-mail and knew he would lambaste her and her team for missing last Friday’s deadline for submitting a proposal to retrofit a 60-story Chicago skyscraper to meet new federal green standards. Keiko had warned Carver of the possible delay in completing the proposal due to changing federal regulations for energy efficiency. It was truly out of her hands. She had even consulted with the client to alert them of the delay, and they had agreed to an extended deadline. Nevertheless, Carver was angry about the delay and fired off an e-mail that was brusque and insensitive. “I depend on you to meet deadlines and work effectively with regulatory agencies. Your ineptness may cost us this important project,” he exclaimed in his e-mail to Keiko. “Why aren’t you as committed to this project as I am? I can’t do this alone,” he stated. This was one more example of how Carver often made life miserable for his subordinates, verbally attacking them to get results. Carver had also started alienating his peers. During a recent meeting to discuss the replacement of thousands of windows in the Chicago skyscraper, Carver embarrassed a colleague by accusing him of selecting a vendor without doing a price comparison among vendors. “How can I value your recommendation, Troy, if you fail to do your homework? I need new prices by Friday!” shouted Carver. Carver was a highly skilled architect and responsible for managing a team of designers in EDI’s Chicago office. Although his abrupt personality had helped him climb the corporate ladder, his intimidating communication style was beginning to create problems and hamper his ability to get results. Carver learned in his performance review that his work relationships were suffering and the complaints about him were increasing. Even his long-time peers were avoiding him as much as possible and finding ways to work around him. Sensitive to the growing animosity toward him, Carver began to reconsider how he interacted with his staff and peers. He felt motivated to begin using some of the tools he had recently learned in the executive education course he had just completed. During one of the skills-assessment activities, Carver learned that he could get better results by communicating more gently, building consensus, and working in a more team-oriented manner. Further, he realized he had to find ways to handle his anger and frustration when dealing with federal regulatory agencies and the inevitable delays that hampered progress on big construction projects. As he thought about the skills assessment, Carver wondered if he could soften his image and perhaps even be considered for a senior management position he was eyeing in EDI’s Los Angeles office.