A riddle/fictional case for discussion, fun and learning
Last post dealt with personal Strategy – this case strongly relates to it!
Dale, the CEO of CompAdvantage told Claudio that he is his chosen candidate for Senior VP of Global Marketing and Sales. Fritz, the current SVP of Global M&S, is retiring in three months, and all the ‘C’ level executives of CompAdvantage are meeting in two months to recommend the board of directors of Fritz’ replacement. Fritz shows considerable appreciation for Claudio, but has also expressed reservations from Claudio referring all the achievements of his division to himself. Claudio suspects that Fritz is going to recommend Martha for the job. Martha has won a lot of credit lately due to her success in entering the Eastern Europe market in the last three years, which reduces Martha’s failure in advocating the long legal fight with its biggest competitor PeachSales, which ended in total disaster and huge cost.
Claudio has been the VP of Marketing and Sales of Latin America in the last five years. Latin America is still the most profitable market of CompAdvantage, but two other large markets are steadily growing: Eastern Europe, led by Martha, and North America led by Abraham. Both Martha and Avraham are Claudio’s rivals for the desired position. An interesting point is that Abraham had mentored Martha for three years as his deputy. However, Abraham is now over 62 years old, so he is less likely to get the job – unless he is considered as a compromise between Claudio and Martha. The possibility of a compromise is a threat that Claudio is trying to prevent. But, how can he reduce the probability of this option to happen?
Claudio has put a list of all the senior VPs that would participate in the crucial meeting. He noted those that he is pretty sure would back his candidacy, including Brad, now the SVP of Global Logistic whom Claudio closely supported when he has been in charge of Latin America’s operations. Linda, the SVP of Global Design Development would probably back him as well, as her relationships with Martha are not good and she has openly criticized Martha as a reckless manager. On the other hand, Henry, the SVP of all subsidiaries of CompAdvantage would surely support Martha. Anyway, there are still six additional SVPs that Claudio is not certain about their preferences.
“Question is,” thought Claudio, “what can I do now to strengthen my position? And what can I do to reduce the impact of the opposing arguments against me?”
Within the huge organization of CompAdvantage it is well known that Claudio is a tyrant. All his managers are in constant fear of him being unsatisfied with their achievements. Some of the other VPs appreciate this style of managing, assuming it is the effective way to motivate the lower level managers to work harder. Others claim that such a style limits the subordinate managers’ to take their own initiatives and develop their managerial skills.
Fact is: Claudio has led his vast region very successfully and this success is significantly expressed in the global financial state of CompAdvantage.
Question 1: If you were a senior vice-president, striving for the future success of CompAdvantage, what should be a decisive criterion in preferring one of the three candidates?
Question 2: What could Claudio do in the short term to improve his chance?
5 thoughts on “Removing the Obstacles for my Promotion”
Who will produce the best results for the company as a whole, my department, and my own work-life?
Claudio should do his homework to gain the support of the voting SVPs and other key influencers. He should think about how M&S currently causes problems for each SVP and what could be done to improve the situation. Claudio should draw on his team’s intuition, and make a point of remembering who made valuable suggestions so that he can openly give them credit when he talks to the SVPs about the ideas.
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Balancing growth & stability in harmony.
I would go for Claudio because; he has a settled region and it is reasonable to leave the region to somebody else, meanwhile he could focus on new opportunities.
Abraham is currently old and his region is still growing. In other words I do not want that region to handover. He was the mentor for Martha in the past and it may not be nice to let Martha be a manager of Abraham. Besides, her region is still growing as well with some legal issues.
He needs to set up an urgent “team presentation” for the board. He must give up talking about himself and must switch to team language. He needs to review his operations and style of management vs other voting board members to reveal likely conflicts if there are any.
In addition (to relate to the idea of developing a personal edge) Claudio should be trying to show the SVPs that he is THE foremost expert in the company at M&S. He can show depth of understanding by explaining what actions he took (and the logic behind them) to achieve success in his region and how they might be applied more widely. By describing the systemic view and how M&S relates in good and bad ways to the other parts of the company he can demonstrate broadness of understanding. He might also draw social / expert capital on the fact that he has the CEO’s backing.
Sorry for posting two comments. Next time I’ll let someone else answer first, I promise!
Future growth and profitability will be both in any “C” level executive deciding in Fritz replacement. Claudio’s challenge cannot be overcome by changing his personality and management style overnight. Claudio needs to enforce that his style and leadership are needed for capitalizing on the opportunities from Eastern Europe and North America in a not too distant horizon.
Two key figures are involved to increase Claudio’s chances of being selected for the VP of Global Marketing & Sales: 1) Fritz who will definitely have something to say about his replacement; and 2) Abraham who is most likely to succeed Fritz if a battle between Claudio and Martha reaches a stalemate in the Board of Directors.
Such a situation should be handle with care by Claudio. First, rise above the circumstances and approach Abraham as his choice for the position, offering him all the support needed to take over Fritz responsibilities; reinforce the wisdom Abraham will bring to improve results as he has managed a most difficult territory as North America; and build an understanding with him that leadership styles differ from one territory to another assuring Abraham that he knows Abraham can handle the required shifts in leadership. Second, approach Fritz with sound logic as to the implications for the Latin America Market if he leaves the company, and show concerns as to the potential instability normally caused by replacing key leaders in any company; Ask Fritz what advice would he give his selected replacement to sustain growth and profitability into the future without disrupting existing strategies; be ready to challenge with respect and consideration any suggestions by placing questions to Fritz as to probable scenarios to be faced.
The key issue here is for Claudio to be selected and he can only do so by bringing on board the two key figures in this decision (Fritz and Abraham). Any option to undermine directly Martha should be avoided as she will most likely will remain and her collaboration needed. If Martha approaches this challenge by directly undermining Claudio, she will most likely be affected and therefore rejected.
Claudio’s approach should be a strategy to bring key figures to a dialogue where he can begin to influence and eventually have some control over the decision to be taken. Past accomplishments are there and it will serve as a reinforcing condition for the selection once the influential elements are set.
The risk is not doing a good advocacy strategy by influencing key players to a point where Abraham age could be an issue without Claudio raising such issue with others. If Abraham is not a candidate due to his age, then Claudio should be Abraham’s first choice.
Remember, all top executives have been there with enough exposure to influence top executives. Just finding the right ones and working with them should make Claudio the new VP of Global Marketing & Sales.
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Building on Utkan’s idea of presentations to the board, perhaps Claudio could also start a blog or write articles in the company magazine on sales/marketing subtleties in plain language. The idea would be to increase his profile and show his depth of understanding of Sales and Marketing and position him as the foremost internal expert.
I realise now that my original idea of trying to solve the problems for each SVP is probably a high risk approach. It was a knee-jerk TOC idea. Powerful, but risky. It would be far safer to focus on building his image as an expert and to empathize in a vaguer way with the SVPs. He still should do his homework on them, so he knows what things might influence them.
As alluded to by Utkan, succession planning would also be important. A question that the SVPs would have is: who will take over from the candidate? Claudio needs to have a good answer. It might also encourage his underlings to express their support for his promotion and speak well of him.