Every organization has individuals with different levels of qualities and competencies. Today, working for an organization requires engaging in behaviors that result in healthy competition, adaptability, enforcement of attitudes, and openness to change. These are some of the attributes that lead to success in any organization.
Isabel Stewart, a partner at a reputed law firm, has been very successful in her personal and professional life. She has been at the top of her game, one of the youngest to be made partner of the firm, excelling in tax subjects at every level as well as bringing new business to the company. She is effective at maintaining relationships with the clients at the professional level and has the frameset of ‘sticking to her own ‘business.’
Despite of her successful career, a hefty pay, and a set of remarkable achievements, Steward is still not satisfied. Her job dissatisfaction is based on a number of reasons, resulting in the exhibition of certain behaviors that form the core of this case study.
This case study outlines how an individual so brilliant like Isabel made it to Austin & March, reached to the top, working for a firm where preferences based on gender are high, her opinion in this context, how she perceives competition, and the factors that form critical facets in her performance while being with the organization.
The case has been organized into an interesting structure discussing every part of Isabel’s personality long before describing her activities while in the organization. The first section explains Isabel’s personal life as well as the start of her career purposefully in order to describe how an individual’s initial upbringing affects behavior and performance in the organization. Upcoming sections in the case shed light on her interaction with various individuals across the organization, her perception of competition, her expressions about employee-employer relationships, factors of motivation and positive reinforcement, missed opportunities, her strengths and weaknesses, in her own view as well as in view of others that work in close coordination with her.
Although this case study discusses an individual, Isabel Stewart’s behavior in the organization she works for, a major part of this case analysis would focus on the environment that shapes her overall perception of the organization and acts as a catalyst in a majority of her decisions as well as opinions formed through observation of different phenomena.
From the start of the educational and career growth of Isabel, she has been shown never to accept defeat or failure. She is an outstanding student at her university, excelling in all the major tax courses, that later form the basis of her specialization in the discipline. While she’s very successful in her career, she’s rather a task oriented individual who is keen towards details, does her work with due diligence. Her success and intelligence is many a times downplayed by many of her colleagues while at the same time, capitalizing on her ideas to their own personal credit, an example of which is Ralph.
There is a highly debated notion that “influence brings power,” which on the other hand is contradicted by “power brings influence”. It’s an irony that while Isabel believes that influence shapes an individual’s ability to become empowered, Ralph, on the other hand, thinks that it is actually power that develops an individual’s influence in active decision making. The case explains this through the paragraph illustrating Isabel’s recent promotion to partner, that Ralph determines the gravity of the situation and decides to “bury the hatchet” with his formal subordinate.
Also, since Isabel has faced such behavior, it is obvious that she would feel threatened by someone highly competent (Sutton, 2003), more powerful, influential and able than her. This has shaped Isabel’s behavior in such a manner that she has difficulty in sharing information and trusting other subordinates and colleagues with the tasks, and authority without delegation. Since she fears to delegate, she is overcrowded with work. Delegating and sharing power, following Mary Parker Follet’s theory of power within rather than power over would help her in completing her objectives on time. The case study also projects that she is unable to grasp knowledge in the new and upcoming field of corporate tax due to lack of experience and trust by her seniors. This also forms a major factor for reduced motivation (Ragunathan, 1999) in Isabel. Self-serving bias is highly visible in this case, whereby her superiors fail to trust her abilities in handling these tasks effectively, efficiently and deliver results. Also, a culture of jealousy is prevalent among the superiors who feel that her growth projection is too quick and she is too young to succeed in the new department, corporate tax.
Her extreme attention to detail is also a major cause of her problems. It is a combination of this attribute and her failure to delegate that she is unable to engage in new learning initiatives to make her place in the corporate tax department. An appropriate solution to this problem is to focus on collectivism rather than individualism that will yield productivity greater than the combined efforts of all.
There is much evidence in the case study illustrating that Isabel is a hardworking and loyal individual, who is looking more at the type of job, job growth prospects rather than the monetary incentives attached to it. She is more inclined towards the intrinsic qualities of her job as compared to the extrinsic (Heath, 1992), visible benefits attached to it. She is a self-motivated individual who takes pleasure in goals (Howard J. Klein, 2001) that she feels are right for her and takes satisfaction (Carter) from achieving them.
This case study has focused on an individual’s behavior in an organizational setting occupied by male-dominated environment, where she has excelled in her career in a very short span of time. During her career, she has been an excellent observer, a skilled, hardworking lawyer whose attention to detail, research, investigative analysis and study is remarkable. However, her failure to delegate and trust often causes her problems. She can overcome this through gradual sharing of her power with her peers. She must learn that power comes from sharing not from exhibiting. Also, she has to develop an ability to influence people, come up with innovative solutions and new methods to problem solving (Leigh Thompson, 2000). The case study also presents some examples where the clients want new domains to the business problem and ways to tackle these issues in an innovative manner. Through delegation, she might be able to deliver early, giving her ample time to advance in the new area of corporate taxation. She is a quick learner who is highly adaptable to the situation, however lacks the technical skills and faced with the management team of protectionist psychological orientation, that is, they feel threatened by her abilities. Isabel should start focusing on gaining skills in corporate tax and influencing her seniors through impressive research and new ideas of doing work that can help them solve problems, thereby enabling reinforced behavior (Piascik, 2002) of trusting for work with her.
Carter, B. Mediating Effects of Empathy on Job Satisfaction, Work Interdependence, and Organizational Citizenship Behaviors.
Heath, C. (1992). On the Social Psychology ofAgency Relationships: Lay Theories of Motivation Overemphasize Extrinsic Incentives. Web.
Howard J. Klein, M. J. (2001). The Assessment of Goal Commitment.
Leigh Thompson, D. G. (2000). Avoiding Missed Opportunities in Managerial Life: Analogical Training More Powerful Than Individual Case Training. Web.
Piascik, K. E. (2002). The Behavior Modification Experience: Application, Accountability. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.
Ragunathan, R. (1999). All Negative Moods are Not Equal: Motivational Influences of Anxiety and Sadness on Decision Making.
Sutton, R. I. (2003). Organizational Behavior – The Enemy Next Door.