LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: CASES FOR ANALYSIS “What Should I Say?” The sudden heart attack of his predecessor, Bill Andrews, propelled Russell Hart into a tem- porary top management assignment for Kresk International in the company’s new Middle East Division in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Kresk management had targeted Saudi as a must- have division and was enthusiastic about the expansion. After six months of a one-year assignment in Riyadh with travel throughout the Mid- dle East, Russell was making a brief trip to Dallas to report at the semi-annual board meet- ing before returning to Saudi. He understood that in addition to his assessment of the company’s situation in the region, a portion of the board meeting would focus on the improved health condition of Andrews and, based on that, a determination would be made as to whether he or Bill Andrews would have the permanent assignment at the end of the year. The two were close friends and had corresponded regularly over the past months, and Russell looked forward to Bill’s full recovery and return to work. However, single and adventurous by nature, Russell enjoyed the company’s top assignment and hoped to impress management at the meeting so that he would be named director of the Middle East Division. “Here’s where my personal ambitions and my personal ethics collide,” Russell admitted to his assistant Christopher Dunn as the Kresk corporate jet left Riyadh. “I mean, look at all of this. It’s a dream job. It’s my dream job and I can do this. If anyone had told me back in high school in Nebraska that I would be on a corporate jet flying from Saudi Arabia, I’d have laughed them out of Sydney.” “Excuse me, Russell, would you and Christopher care for anything to drink?” the cabin attendant asked. “Yes, a Jameson,” Russell said. “Same here,” Christopher added. As the attendant walked away, Russell leaned over, speaking quietly. “Corporate is so enthusiastic about this region. They are expecting nothing short of a glowing report that basically says, ‘Wow, we really hit the jackpot with this move.’ And that’s what we’ve put together here over the past few weeks. It looks fantastic! But my little man in here,” he said, pointing to his stomach, “keeps nagging me—do I give them, ‘Wow, we hit the jackpot’ and become the darling of the company, or do I give them the truth, that we have some potential serious problems with this division . . .” “… And hand the job to Bill,” Christopher said as the drinks arrived. “Exactly. By the end of the year, their numbers may look great and they may meet our performance standards, but I have serious problems with the management here. I realize that we’re working with a different culture and I can make allowances. I have no problem pacing my day around their prayer obligations. I know to avoid any business during Ramadan or
around the two Eids. I’ve become comfortable meeting a sheikh or sayyid* and I’ve even lost my sense of self-consciousness when a businessman holds my hand to lead me into a room. I can deal with all of these things. But there is a level here within the organization that bothers me and that I think would bother most managers at headquarters and that’s what I struggle with in this report. Should I be honest?” “Well, you know—honesty is the best …” “Don’t say it. This is my career we’re talking about.” “OK, what do you want to add—or not add?” “The major problem here is Youssef Said,” Russell said. “I know. But I think I would stay away from mentioning that. The company loves the guy. Bill Andrews has been his champion because of excellent results, at least in the short run.” “I don’t agree. And I think they won’t when they see him in action. I don’t understand why Bill supports him.” “They’ve seen him in action,” Christopher said. “Oh, they’ve seen what he wants them to see. You and I have seen his interaction with staff and employees on a daily basis. His mistreatment of people is appalling. I see a total disregard for the opinions of others, and he seems to take considerable pleasure in humiliat- ing people. He screams at them! A few have quit. I’ve questioned him about it a couple of times and all he says is, ‘I know. Please understand …’ ” “It is the way it is done here,” Christopher said, completing the phrase the two heard on a regular basis. “I don’t believe it is the way it’s done here. It’s not our culture, at least not in the U.S. and Europe. I think this has always been his way. I wonder about the effects on morale, and I think the people who work here will believe the company is in agreement with him and that this is our policy,” Russell said. “Youssef has that little inner circle of family and friends that he trusts and really nothing beyond that. To me, it seems he’s always working a deal, bending a rule. I know that Arabs love to trade and love to negotiate, but there are too many favors, too many unwritten agreements and payments, and I wonder if we should intervene. I wonder if international laws or the company’s own ethics are being set aside. I have serious doubts that this guy is going to work with the Kresk culture and our company ethics. But do I need to include my concerns in this initial report …” “Or will you just be busting the board’s bubble, and raise doubts about Bill, or perhaps they will doubt you and risk your shot at the job you want?” “On the other hand, if I am seeing what I consider severe long-term problems and say noth- ing now, in this report, and the problems show up later, will I be guilty of breaking a code of ethics?” Russell paused. “So, Christopher, what do I say tomorrow at the board meeting?”

QUESTIONS 1. What do you think Russell Hart should include in his report about Youssef Said? Why? What would you do in his position?

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