Leaders, Teams and Situations Outside the Norm
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Edited by Cristina M. Giannantonio and Amy E. Hurley-Hanson
Chapter 16: Jeanne's story: a leader and her team's journey through crisis
In the late 1990s, I was hired by a telecom manufacturing company as an internal organization development consultant to work with their self-directed work teams. For seven years I worked closely with an organization that initially grew, but then began to shrink from over 1500 employees to about 300 as product demand declined. In the end, the facility was closed. But before the closure, some amazing things happened. It was at this facility that I met Jeanne, whose story I want to share with you. Jeanne is one of many impressive people I met at the plant, but Jeanne’s story is special. She overcame not only a business challenge, but a personal challenge as well. She did it with determination and grace. She gave the gift of personal growth to her employees, and she caused them to be steadfast in their commitment to the job and to the company under the worst of circumstances. She demonstrated true leadership under extreme conditions of personal and professional loss. Jeanne was an extreme leader.BACKGROUNDAcme Manufacturing Company (a pseudonym) was jointly owned by two telecommunications giants. It made hardware for the telecommunications industry, specifically hard line telephone switching stations. Switching stations were used to connect calls across the country and around the world. It was a huge and dynamic business. At the time of this story, Acme’s hardware manufacturing took place in a small town in central Illinois, where it was the major employer.
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