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A Strained Research TeamDr. Adam Wood is the principal investigator on a 3-year, $1 million feder-ally funded research grant to study health education programs for older populations, called the Elder Care Project. Unlike previous projects, in which Dr. Wood worked alone or with one or two other investigators, on this project Dr. Wood has 11 colleagues. His project team is made up of two co-investigators (with PhDs), four intervention staff (with MAs), and five general staff members (with BAs). One year into the project, it has become apparent to Dr. Wood and the team that the project is underbudgeted and has too few resources. Team members are spending 20%–30% more time on the project than has been budgeted to pay them. Regardless of the resource strain, all team members are committed to the project; they believe in its goals and the importance of its out-comes. Dr. Wood is known throughout the country as the foremost scholar in this area of health education research. He is often asked to serve on national review and advisory boards. His publication record is second to none. In addition, his colleagues in the university know Dr. Wood as a very competent researcher. People come to Dr. Wood for advice on research design and methodology questions. They also come to him for questions about theoretical formulations. He has a reputation as someone who can see the big picture on research projects.Despite his research competence, there are problems on Dr. Wood’s research team. Dr. Wood worries there is a great deal of work to be done but that the members of the team are not devoting sufficient time to the Elder Care Project. He is frustrated because many of the day-to-day research tasks of the project are falling into his lap. He enters a research meeting, throws his notebook down on the table, and says, “I wish I’d never taken this project on. It’s taking way too much of my time. The rest of you aren’t pulling your fair share.” Team members feel exasperated at Dr. Wood’s comments. Although they respect his competence, they find his leadership style frustrating. His negative comments at staff meet-ings are having a demoralizing effect on the research team. Despite their hard work and devotion to the project, Dr. Wood seldom compliments or praises their efforts. Team members believe that they have spent more time than anticipated on the project and have received less pay or credit than expected. The project is sucking away a lot of staff energy, yet Dr. Wood does not seem to understand the pressures confronting his staff.The research staff is starting to feel burned out, but members realize they need to keep trying because they are under time constraints from the federal government to do the work promised. The team needs to develop a pamphlet for the participants in the Elder Care Project, but the pamphlet costs are significantly more than budgeted in the grant. Dr. Wood has been very adept at finding out where they might find small pockets of money to help cover those costs.Although team members are pleased that he is able to obtain the money, they are sure he will use this as just another example of how he was the one doing most of the work on the project.
1. Based on the skills approach, how would you assess Dr. Wood’s leader-ship and his relationship to the members of the Elder Care Project team? Will the project be successful?
2. Does Dr. Wood have the skills necessary to be an effective leader of this research team?3. The skills model describes three important competencies for leaders: problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge. If you were to coach Dr. Wood using this model, what competencies would you address with him? What changes would you suggest that he make in his leadership?
A Drill Sergeant at FirstMark Young is the head of the painting department in a large hospital; 20 union employees report to him. Before coming on board at the hos-pital, he had worked as an independent contractor. At the hospital, he took a position that was newly created because the hospital believed change was needed in how painting services were provided.Upon beginning his job, Mark did a 4-month analysis of the direct and indi-rect costs of painting services. His findings supported the perceptions of his administrators that painting services were inefficient and costly. As a result, Mark completely reorganized the department, designed a new scheduling procedure, and redefined the expected standards of performance.Mark says that when he started out in his new job he was “all task,” like a drill sergeant who didn’t seek any input from his subordinates. From Mark’s point of view, the hospital environment did not leave much room for errors, so he needed to be strict about getting painters to do a good job within the constraints of the hospital environment.As time went along, Mark relaxed his style and was less demanding. He delegated some responsibilities to two crew leaders who reported to him, but he always stayed in close touch with each of the employees. On a weekly basis, Mark was known to take small groups of workers to the local sports bar for burgers on the house. He loved to banter with the employees and could take it as well as dish it out.Mark is very proud of his department. He says he always wanted to be a coach, and that’s how he feels about running his department. He enjoys working with people; in particular, he says he likes to see the glint in their eyes when they realize that they’ve done a good job and they have done it on their own.Because of Mark’s leadership, the painting department has improved sub-stantially and is now seen by workers in other departments as the most productive department in hospital maintenance. Painting services received a customer rating of 92%, which is the highest of any service in the hospital.
Questions1. From the behavioral perspective, how would you describe Mark’s leadership?
2. How did his behavior change over time?3. In general, do you think he is more task oriented or more relationship oriented?
4. What score do you think he would get on Blake and Mouton’s grid?
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