Case Study: Can Nice Guys Finish First?
By Jeffrey Pfeffer
Adam Baker was on his way to the top of his life. He is the oldest son of a middle class family of North Carolina without family wealth and businesses to support his ambition in life, he knew that he would have to make his dreams come true through hard work and talent. SES is the company that he is working for. In here, he felt that this would allow him to thrive and start his ambition. When the opportunity appeared, Adam realized that he could create something of his own. The new venture, in which he had successfully persuaded SES to invest to and had seemed only fair for Adam that he should be appointed as the CEO of the chain hotels but the phrase that was said to him by his employer and mentor, Merwyn, disappointed Adam deeply. Since Adam is the brain of the business venture it seems indeed fair that he should be the new CEO of the hotel chain.
We will be able to find out the best solution that would fit the situation of the two good friends without affecting their relationship. We could identify the proper approached to be exercised in situations like this. We will be able to find out what is the right decision that Adam Baker will be choosing. If either he will pursue to Merwyn that he must be the new CEO of the hotel chain or he will just accept the decision of Merwyn that he be more experienced for him to be able to handle to task of a CEO.
The first issue in this case is whether Adam wants to get the CEO Job or wants to be the CEO. There’s a difference. Does he want the title so that he can have more status, or would he find the role meaningful and fulfilling? Being a CEO is a tough job. You have to make hard decisions. You have to watch what you say in every meeting. If Adam is mainly after the title and the status, he won’t be successful. He may not be able to tell whether he really wants the job until he gets more experience as a line manager. But for argument’s sake, let’s assume he does want to be the CEO. The second issue is if he is suited for the job? He probably does have some weaknesses. He may not be decisive, for example. And he has failed once. So what? I’ve seen over and over again in my career as an executive coach that almost all leaders can change their behavior, and the ones who are intellectually and technically qualified can be developed to become great CEOs. This case study is not just about Adam. It’s also about Merwyn. The third key issue is whether Merwyn would give Adam a fair chance in a leadership role. I don’t think he would. Even if he allowed Adam to take the CEO Job, I doubt that he would let Adam succeed. That’s because Merwyn has decided that Adam is a poor leader. He is not trying to coach or help him—he believes that Adam is a hopeless case. If the boss writes you off, you are usually done. At best, your odds of success are dramatically lowered. Believing that Adam lacks the wherewithal to be a CEO, Merwyn would be looking for signs of failure on his part—and we all tend to find what we are looking for. That’s why I would advise Adam not to ask for the job. Merwyn Straus, the boss and the founder of the company told Adam Baker, his best asset in his company that he was not the right guy to lead the company’s latest venture. Based on Adam’s career track he is the perfect fit to become the newest CEO. At his very young age, he became one of the youngest leader of the company. He puts all his heart and knowledge in doing his work. But for Merwyn Straus, he is not yet ready for this type of position in a company. Adam knew to himself that he is the perfect guy for the CEO position. Straus and Baker’s relationship is more than a friend. It is like a father and son, a mentor and a mentee. Straus is the mentor of baker. He teaches everything he know in business to Adam. He puts his trust to Adam baker. And in...
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