Ken Osborne stared out the window, wondering what he could do to get things back on track. When he became head of the finance department of a state government agency, Osborne inherited a group of highly trained professionals who pursued their jobs with energy and enthusiasm. Everyone seemed to genuinely love coming to work every day. The tasks were sometimes mundane, but most employees liked the structured, routine nature of the work. In addition, the lively camaraderie of the group provided an element of fun and excitement that the work itself sometimes lacked.
Ken knew heâ€™d had an easy time of things over the last couple of years â€“ he had been able to focus his energies on maintaining relationships with other departments and agencies and completing the complex reports he had to turn in each month. The department had practically run itself. Until now. The problem was Larry Gibson, one of the departmentâ€™s best employees. Well-liked by everyone in the department, Gibson had been a key contributor to developing a new online accounting system, and Ken was counting on him to help with the implementation. But everything had changed after Gibson attended a professional development seminar at a prestigious university. Ken had expected him to come back even more fired up about work, but lately Larry was spending more time on his outside professional activities than he was on his job. â€œIf only Iâ€™d paid more attention when all this began,â€ Ken thought, as he recalled the day Larry asked him to sign his revised individual development plan. As heâ€™d done in the past, Ken had simply chatted with Larry for a few minutes, glanced at the changes, and initialed the modification. Larryâ€™s revised plan included taking a more active role in the state accountantâ€™ society, which he argued would enhance his value to the agency as well as improve his own skills and professional contacts.
Within a month, Ken noticed that most of Gibsonâ€™s energy and enthusiasm seemed to be focused on the society rather than the finance department. On â€œfirst Thursday,â€ the societyâ€™s luncheon meeting day, Larry spent most of the morning on the phone notifying people about the monthly meeting and finalizing details with the speaker. He left around 11 A.M. to make sure things were set up for the meeting and usually didnâ€™t return until close to quitting time. Ken could live with the loss of Gibson for one day a month, but the preoccupation with society business seemed to be turning his former star employee into a part-time worker. Larry shows up late for meetings, usually doesnâ€™t participate very much, and seems to have little interest in what is going on in the department. The new accounting system is floundering because Larry isnâ€™t spending the time to train people in its effective use, so Ken is starting to get complaints from other departments. Moreover, his previously harmonious group of employees is starting to whine and bicker over minor issues and decisions. Ken has also noticed that people who used to be hard at work when he arrived in the mornings seem to be coming in later and later every day.
Everythingâ€™s gone haywire since Larry attended that seminar,â€ Ken brooded. â€œI thought I was one of the best department heads in the agency. Now, I realize I havenâ€™t had to provide much leadership until now. Maybe Iâ€™ve had things too easy.â€
1. Why had Osborneâ€™s department been so successful even though he has provided little leadership over the past two years?
2. How would you describe Osborneâ€™s current leadership style? Based on the path-goal theory, which style do you think he might most effectively use to turn things around with Larry Gibson?
3. If you were in Osborneâ€™s position, describe how you would evaluate the situation and handle the problem.
200 word minimum