Blunt Brittany Brittany is the director of merchandising for Auto Pal, a large chain of automotive supply stores in the United States and Canada. The company has continued to grow in terms of stores and income, as so many more people keep their vehicles longer, and also perform more maintenance, such as oil changes, by themselves. Merchandising is a core function of Auto Pal because the chain distributes thousands of products in its stores, from floor mats to transmissions.
With profit margins thin, and heavy competition, the pace of conducting business at Auto Pal is hectic. Brittany moves quickly when dealing with her direct reports, sometimes to their surprise. Sid, a merchandise specialist for vehicle cleaning and polishing supplies, recently requested a two-week paternity leave because he and his wife were expecting a baby any moment now. Brittany replied that such a request was kind of wimpy, and a little bit out of the ordinary. “Don’t you have a mother-in-law who can help with the new baby? Or, are you so poor that you can’t hire a nanny for two weeks?” Katie, a merchandising specialist for batteries, regulators, and radiators, sent Brittany a detailed report about new procurement software that might save thousands of dollars for Auto Pal in the long run. Brittany sent back an e-mail stating in part, “Does this great new software come from a company that employs a relative of yours? We are already using state-of-the art software.”
Jeff, the office manager, and one of Auto Pal’s most senior employees, sent Brittany an e-mail asking if he could take his ten days of vacation in five two-day pieces next year instead of ten consecutive working days. The next day, Brittany wrote back, “I like your idea Jeff. In this way your work flow would be less disrupted. And besides, an old-timer like you needs a few more long weekends than the rest of us do.” One day, Auto Pal CEO Derek asked Brittany how well she was proceeding with her strategic plan for next year. Brittany replied, “Not much progress yet. I’m running around putting out fires and dealing with the realities of making sure my team gets the right merchandise into the stores. Maybe you could have one of those overpaid marketing specialists dream up a strategic plan that I could sign off on.”
1. In which leadership trait or characteristic does Brittany seem to need the most development?
2. How would you rate Brittany’s warmth and enthusiasm as a leader?
3. What action would you recommend that Derek take to improve Brittany’s leadership effectiveness?