People Management Case Study

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The SITUATION: the Ben Brooks’ dilemma

Ben Brook, 43 years old, a solid professional with 20 years of experience at Livingstone Corp., is extremely disappointed for not having been promoted CEO of his company. For the first time in his life, he is reflecting about his personal and professional history and choices, trying to get some lessons for the future. He considers quitting his company for a CEO job in another one.

The FACTS: Ben Brooks’ personal and professional life

Our starting point will be to understand (through a 3 pages letter) who Ben is as a person, and as a professional. We can deduce several key personality clues, based on the facts in the letter: An “achiever”: born in 1935, graduated with honors, joins Livingstone at the age of 23, promoted to an important position after only 4 years in the company, promoted youngest ever Executive VP (35 years old) after 12 years in the company. Loyal to the company and proud of it: entire career at Livingstone (20 years) “Work-aholic” at the expense of his family: regularly spend evenings and weekends in the office. Forgets about taking vacation. Immersed by work, leaves all energies in the office and fails in dedicated some to his wife and kids. One anecdote: after divorce, lives in a NYC hotel close to the office. Self-confident: believes others will notice and reward him for his own professional skills. Small (or none) circle of friends: having written this letter, at this point in time, to a professor he has neither seen nor talked to in the past 20 years seems like a strong sign that he had nobody closer with whom share his dilemma.

The ANALYSIS: Ben Brooks’ profile

1.Psychological Type

With the limited information available in the letter, we can guess Ben is an NT TYPE (“Intuitive Rational”): Ben is fascinated by power, he is very ambitious and believes he will progress and be recognized / rewarded by others as a result of his own personal competences. As we said, he is a “work-aholic”, his competence seems never enough to him and he lives permanently with the fear to “fail” (ie. to not getting as high as he believes he deserves). He is a “visionary” and permanently challenges the status-quo: a good example is the “direct cost model” Ben developed and implemented at Livingstone only 2 years after having joined the company.

In his professional relationships with others, NT types are arrogant in that sense that they assume a small contribution from his peers and team since, ultimately, “they are not as good as I am”. At the same time, as contradictory as it may seem, he can be as highly demanding with others as he is with himself. The NT types could go as far as hurting others’ feelings without even noticing it.

Worth noting: there is nevertheless one component in Ben’s personality which could have led us to classify him rather as an SJ type. Ben is committed to deliver on his promises and objectives and, in that respect, he values duty above all and dedicates all of his time and energy to his work. That said, an SJ type is also very sensitive to others, to bringing harmony to the relationships and his “duty sense” goes beyond work to also his family. This is clearly not the case for Ben.  

To further complete this picture, Ben seems to be more of an INTROVERTED type: difficult to say through the letter but he does not seem like a very social or externally-focused person. He does not seem to be sourcing his energy from others, but rather from himself and his work. He definitely prefers communicating in written, even to a professor he has not seen for the past 20 years (!) which clearly shows how little genuine interest he has in knowing how others (the professor) are doing: he dedicates 3 pages to talking exclusively about himself and his dilemma.

On the 4th axe, Ben seems more like a JUDGEMENT type: he enjoys planning is work and is excited about reaching objectives. That said, we do not have much more information about...
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