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Case Study “Tough Guy”: Problems in the Organization


The problems that this case study presents revolves around the insulting and derogatory behavior of Chip Mazey, the vice president of Hudson Smith Gordon, an investment bank, along with his poor people skills.

Case analysis

The insulting and derogatory behavior Mazey portrays has led him, a vice president of Hudson Smith Gordon, to manifest coercive power towards junior employees. Coercive power exists when an individual appears to have control over punishments within an organization. The form of power that Mazey has acquired has turned him into a control freak. Because of the large amounts of money that he has been able to make for the company, he has effectively wielded too much power, and hence his insulting and derogatory behavior.

The mantra that Mazey appears to follow is “kiss up, kick down”, which is why his verbal abuse and tongue lashing behavior seems to be especially directed at those employees that are under him in the organization, a testament to his poor communication skills. The swagger and bravado manifested by Mazey increase with his rise through the ranks in the organization. His autocratic style of leadership comes out clearly following the testimonies given by a few employees of the organization who have had to work on a project for the organization under the supervision of Mazey. Not only does he never acknowledge a mistake openly, but he also appears to criticize the efforts of junior employees. His lack of trust for employees is confirmed when he has to assign one assignment to two or more associates, simultaneously.

The reason why the influence tactics that Mazey uses may not be as effective as he may wish them to be could be as a result of the fact that by nature, these tactics tend not to be “soft”, and they may end up resulting in resistance from the employees (Colquitt, Wesson, & Jeffrey, 2009). On the other hand, the decision-making style that Mazey assumes is one that is autocratic in nature. This type of decision-making is where a leader decides to make the organizational decisions solely (Colquitt et al, 2009). The result of this is that the leader has high control over his/her subordinates. For example, one of the analysts at Hudson Smith Gordon opines that Mazey has a habit of treating subordinates in such a manner as to make them submissive to him.

Not only does Mazey make his decisions alone, but he also dislikes having to take initiative for any work. Furthermore, he also fails to reward any work given to employees and has been known to take credit for the work of his associates. The influential tactic that Mazey appears to use is that of pressure, in which he applies coercive power by demanding too much from his employees, to the point of issuing threats. For example, one of the associates reports how she had to work overnight to finish a project that was purportedly due the next morning but in the actual sense, it was not very urgent. In fact, that work was not due until after two weeks. The influence that Mazey has over the employees at Hudson Smith Gordon is least effective, based on the influence tactics that he uses. Under normal circumstances, employees would normally respond to this tactic by reciting (Colquitt et al, 2009).

However, the coercion that Mazey uses when handling employees may have inflicted fear in them.

When influence attempts attract resisting responses, this is a clear indication that the targets are against attempts and requests of those behind the influence (Colquitt et al, 2009). When the perpetrators of the influence fail to alter their attitudes and behavior, this leads to a least effective influence, as is the case with Mazey. When concern for own outcome is assertive, and the concern for others outcome is uncooperative, the ensuing compromise is uncooperative (Colquitt et al, 2009), and leads to a win-lose situation. In the case of Mazey, he appears more concerned with his personal progress alone, which is why he tries to please his superiors to earn that promotion that he so much yearns for, but he is always tormenting his employees.

The readiness of Mazey as a leader to help his employees is that of a leader who is able but unwilling. This is because for him to have risen through the ranks to the position of vice president of the company, is a mark of a man who is an achiever, and therefore has the ability to undertake his job adequately. Besides, one of the associates at the organization opines that Mazey has made a lot of money for himself and the company and consequently, this is what has resulted in him wielding a lot of power, and hence his arrogance and derogatory behavior towards junior employees. The leadership style that Mazey displays is that of “passive-management-by exception”. In this case, a leader only gets to correct mistakes after they have been committed (Colquitt et al, 2009). For instance, one of the associates at the firm gave an assignment to her but when she had completed he called her to his office ostensibly to go through the report. In the actual sense, however, he was out to question the different assumptions that this particular employee had made in the work.

In addition, Mazey went on to counter every explanation that this particular employee offered concerning the assumptions that they had made in their work, albeit in a derogatory manner. He then went on to nitpick the work that this employee had presented to him for an additional one hour, before asking that this particular employee redo the assignment in line with the fresh instructions that Mazey had already forwarded to her e-mail address. The shocking part for the employee was when she had to learn that all along, the vice president was quite privy to the information that he later on forwarded for amending the initial report, but he had to wait until she had completed the work, only to have her redo it.

There is also another episode in which Mazey had to instruct an associate to complete an assignment before 8 o’clock the following morning for as he put it, there would be a meeting scheduled at that time and the contents of this particular report would have to be debated at that meeting. It was important therefore that this employee completes the assignment before that time. As a result, the associate spent the better part of the night working on the project and finished early in the morning, only to learn that in fact, no such meeting was been planned for.


Since Mazey is a leader with the capability to assist his employees given his position in the organization, it is important that the management of the organization establish a culture that ensures that the senior managers are willing to assist their employees, as opposed to having to wait for mistakes to occur, before correcting them. In addition, the management of the organization should encourage the management to exercise benevolent power, as opposed to autocratic power. The management at Hudson Smith Gordon should they uphold a more active leadership style, so that they are in a position to detect mistakes when they occur, and correct them in good time. The decision making process of the senior management should be integrative in nature, meaning that it allows room for junior employees to voice their opinions on decision that affects them.


Colquitt, J. A., Wesson, M. J., & Jeffrey, A. (2009). Organizational Behavior: Improving Performance and Commitment in the Workplace. New York: McGraw-Hill.


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