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Case: Leadership: Rising from the Ranks

After working four years as an assistant health services manager at Carter Hospital, William Ford was promoted to Health Services Administrator of the Center. William was very excited as he recently earned his degree in Health Service Management making him eligible to apply for the position. William can now take the lead and put to use all of his years of study. Following a general meeting at which his promotion was announced, William found himself surrounded by three longtime coworkers who had also applied for the job and were his classmates while obtaining their Health Service Management degrees. They offered their congratulations and made other observations and comments.

“I’m really happy for you,” said John Clinton. “This sounds like a terrific career step, one that we were all looking forward to. I suppose this means our carpool is affected, since your hours are bound to be a lot less predictable from now on.”

Rose Bush said, “And I guess that shoots the lunch bunch and the bowling league as well. Management commitments, you know.” The emphasis on management was subtle though undeniable, and William was not at all sure that he was pleased with what he was hearing. 

Sarah Jackson offered, “Well, maybe now we can get some action on a few age-old problems and make the necessary changes around here. Remember, William, you used to gripe about these things as much as the rest of us.”

“We’ve all complained a lot,” Rose agreed. “That’s been sort of a way of life around here.” The tone of her voice shaded toward a suggestion of coolness and her customary smile was absent when she added; “Now William is going to be in a position where he can do something, so let’s hope he doesn’t forget who his friends are.”

John and Sarah looked quickly from Rose to William. For an awkward 10 seconds or so nobody spoke. At last someone passing by said something to William, and as William turned to respond, Rose, John, and Sarah went their separate ways.

1.  What are the possible disadvantages that might present themselves to William because he has long been a member of this group? 

 2. If you were William, how do you believe your promotion would affect your relationships with your former coworkers? 

3.  Describe how you believe William will need to proceed in establishing himself as the legitimate possessor of supervisory authority at the center. 

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