The Nice Guy

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Case Analysis: The Nice Guy


This case study begins with Paul Kennedy on a slow morning commute in Cleveland. During his drive, he’s worried about his wife and family, his boss, his associate, a stranger in a nearby vehicle, and even about the state of the Cleveland Browns. He is also excited about his plans to expand Daner Associates into the European market and his impending promotion to CEO. But when Paul meets with his boss, Larry, that afternoon, he discovers that he has been misreading signals. Larry is actually considering Paul for the number two role in the company and considering promoting another Daner executive, George, into the CEO position.


Paul has been with Daner Associates for ten years. He believes that he is being groomed for to take over the CEO position when Larry retires. Thus, Paul is understandably shocked when he discovers that Larry thinks of him as the number two guy, and is considering promoting George to CEO instead. Paul thinks that George lacks the polish and experience to be effective in the CEO position.

Problem Statement

Paul needs to demonstrate to Larry that he has what it takes to be the next CEO: A strong leader with effective communication, people relationship and management skills.

Analysis and Issues

Paul does not have to become a complete jerk, like George, to get the CEO position. He does, however, need to do a thorough self-assessment to identify his strengths and weaknesses, chose a path that is in his own best interest, then clearly and consistently state his personal and managerial views. Paul has clear advantages over his rival, George, in terms of experience and length of time with the company. His employees like him and trust him to lead them. He possesses most of the elements of an effective CEO, but Larry thinks that Paul is too nice to be effective as CEO. Paul needs to exploit the advantages he has and stop letting his niceness get in the way of his...
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