Management & Leadership Case Study
Laura is the Associate Director of a non-profit agency that provides assistance to children and families. She is the head of a department that focuses on evaluating the skill-building programs the agency provides to families. She reports directly to the agency leadership. As a whole, the agency has been cautious in hiring this year because of increased competition for federal grant funding. However, they have also suffered high staff turnover. Two directors have left as well as three key research staff and one staff person from the finance department.
Laura has a demanding schedule that requires frequent travel; however, she supervises two managers who in turn are responsible for five staff members each. Both managers have been appointed within the last six months.
Manager 1: Kelly has a specific background in research. She manages staff who provide research support to another department that delivers behavioural health services to youth. Kelly supports her staff and is very organized; however, she often takes a very black and white view of issues. Upper-level leadership values Kelly’s latest research on the therapeutic division’s services. Kelly is very motivated and driven and expects the same from her staff.
Manager 2: Linda has a strong background in social science research and evaluation. She manages staff that work on different projects within the agency. She is known as a problem solver and is extremely supportive of her staff. She is very organized and has a wealth of experience in the evaluation of family services. Linda is very capable and can sometimes take on too much.
The managers are sensing that staff are becoming over worked as everyone takes on increased responsibilities due to high staff turnover. Staff have also mentioned that Laura’s “glass half-empty” conversation style leaves them feeling dejected. In addition, Laura has not shared budgets with her managers, so they are having difficulty appropriately allocating work to staff. Laura said she has not received sufficient information from the finance department to complete the budgets. The finance department said they have sent her all the information they have available.
As staff become distressed, the managers are becoming frustrated. They feel like they are unable to advocate for their staff or problem solve without key information like the departmental budget.
- How can Laura most effectively use both management and leadership skills in her role as associate director? What combination of the two do you think would work best in this setting?
- What steps could be taken to build staff confidence?
- What advice would you give Laura on improving her leadership skills and to the managers on improving their management skills?
- Which leadership style do you think a leader would need to be effective in this situation?