Kronos, Inc has many advantages: it is a market leader, has a powerful CEO in Mark Ain, and has a team of high-powered executives. However, the devil is in the details: Kronos is internally competitive and divided, and struggles with ineffective project implementation. To counter this Ain hired a COO that could effectively regulate the work of the Vice Presidents and ensure that operations ran smoothly, freeing him to concentrate on overall strategy. The appointment of a COO (Garrett Lewis) ultimately failed.Kronos undertook the early steps of the Rational Decision-Making model1 – defining the company’s problem and identifying decision criteria – by using a personality assessment tool (PI) to take stock of the situation. The assessment tool uncovered the fact that most managers had drive, ambition, and wanted to dominate.
The few that didn’t fit this description often found themselves marginalized and their talents under-utilised. Ain was left with the question of whether he should make a second effort at hiring a COO or take on that role himself. Main conceptsAin’s style of leadership is based on his aggressive, charismatic personality. It was instrumental in Kronos’ early success, but through the selection and delegating of company executives his personality has resulted in some serious problems in the management and working style of the company. Praendex’ PI tool helped Ain and his management team to take a more objective view of the situation and accurately define their problem. Ain can use this information to seek the right COO for Kronos, and must commit to ensuring the success of the COO in the organization.In control Ain refers to himself as a “smart guy” who “solved other people’s problems”.
Ain has high self-esteem, has an internal locus of control, is a risk-taker, and even displays Machiavellian tendencies in his dealings with employees. He enjoys being the “mastermind” of a group. Befittingly, he named his company after a Greek God. As Kronos took off, Ain began to develop into something of a megalomaniac, taking on full responsibility for many key areas of business and being directly involved in monitoring the goals of every employee.
At weekly meetings, he “… would go over the minutes… asking each person how they had done against the goals that they had set for themselves”.
Although Ain exhibits the desire to dominate his team, his self-esteem had another net effect: he hired managers (Vice Presidents) to work under him that were similar to him in personality. This resulted in a highly competitive and confrontational work environment. According to one of the VPs, the hiring of Lewis could have been a success: “Mark was big-picture and strategic; Garret was detail-oriented.I think that they were so different that it was hard to develop the mutual respect required to make this kind of partnership work. ” Fundamental attribution error2 plays a role in the dismissal of Lewis, as Ain assumes that he is doing a poor job because he is not capable, rather than examining the environment and situation. The crossroads Using PI at this point serves as a catalyst for change.
Says Ain, “It made me confront both my strengths and my weaknesses… It also made me see some of the people in the organization in a different light …” PI helps the company executives examine their situation from a new standpoint, and used to maximum effect could help promote group buy-in of a solution. Manager needed A COO with a dramatically different style from Ain’s could help mend the internal rifts in the company and unite people around a common goal.
Clearly, Ain is a leader of great vision and charisma but lacks the management skills needed in Kronos. As the PI pointed out, most people in the organization are in need of communication, support, and structure.Up to this point, the departments have been largely consumed with infighting and competition, reflecting the personal goals of managers and employees.
A very important element in the success of a COO is the trust and support offered by the leader. For a COO at Kronos to succeed Ain would have to give that person total authority and effectively stand aside. Ain had instructed most of his VPs to report to both himself and Lewis, which was a key factor in undermining Lewis. Most ambitious managers will go straight “to the top”, if given the choice.