Leadership In An Organisation


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Case Study

Learning Outcomes:

  • To explain leadership in organizations.
  • To analyze leadership dynamics using the Open System Model.
  • To identify and briefly explain the leadership skills necessary to enhance performance and outcomes.
  • To devise a brief plan of action.


Kaplan Police Department is well known for being a proactive agency with clear mission and vision statements that promote safety and community trust.  The Chief has been consistent in creating an agency culture with core values of honesty, integrity and straightforward dealings with the community and his personnel.  He is very proactive in promoting leadership and has utilized mentoring programs, as they become necessary, to elevate leadership at the agency.  As a part of this in 2017 he adopted 360 performance evaluation surveys for all first-line supervisors and above.

Sergeant Tracy Thomas has been a patrol sergeant (day shift) for the last four years.  In her most recent 360 performance evaluation, Thomas scored above average (at the 70th percentile).  The results indicated that officers and commanders who evaluated her scored her low in inspiring and motivating teams and individuals to promote high performance.  The report was clear that these skills are critical to accomplishing tasks required by someone at her position.  Some of the written comments in her survey indicated that if she demonstrated and applied these competencies more often, it would have a significantly positive impact on her job success.  Although these results were surprising to her, she has accepted them and plans to do her best to make improvements.

David Dolton is one of Sgt. Thomas’ police officers who has worked at the agency for more than nine years and whose history of performance has been excellent. Although he was chosen to attend a special course of training addressing Community Relations & Initiatives in 2016, it’s generally known among the agency that Officer Dolton doesn’t have as strong a history of leading projects and teams.  At the same time, it’s also well known that although he has a very efficient work style, he tends to not want to put in any overtime hours.  He transferred to patrol from the training unit after returning from the Community Relations & Initiatives training.

Officer Dolton has had a couple performance setbacks on the job over the last three months.  Sgt. Thomas thinks that Officer Dolton’s inability to complete tasks affected her performance review.

Sgt. Thomas assigned Officer Dalton as the Community Action Liaison Officer for her team with the assignment of initiating two community forums to give him opportunities to showcase the knowledge he gained from the Community Relations & Initiatives experience.  These types of assignments were typical for Sgt. Thomas, as she generally has a positive approach and displays confidence in her team members.  This assignment also reinforced the Chief’s vision of community involvement and inclusion within the department.  She worked together with him on his plans and checked in regularly with him during the weeks leading up to the delivery dates. Each time she was assured by him that everything was on track. These were very visible failures that ended up impacting the performance of Sgt. Thomas’ entire unit.  The other setbacks were related to workplace confrontations he had at different times with several other officers following the missed assignments. Sergeant Thomas met often with Officer Dalton during these last few months. She moved quickly to call out his missed responsibilities and improper behavior, wanting it to be clear to him and the team that she was holding him accountable for his actions.

Sgt. Thomas interviewed select officers in her unit to get their understanding of what happened and the impact these situations were having on them and the team. She’s also spent a good deal of time with Officer Dolton to get his perspective, trying to understand what’s been behind his unusual behavior and to help him get back on track. During her meetings with him, Sgt. Thomas sometimes downplayed the seriousness of the situations in order to make him feel better about himself. During her mentoring meetings with Officer Dolton over the last two weeks, she learned that there are several things that are likely contributing to his recent performance issues. He shared some personal financial and family issues that clearly have him worried. He’s also concerned about some process and role changes on the team that Sgt. Thomas instituted a few months ago that have caused changes in his day-to-day work responsibilities. Officer Dolton has accepted Sgt.’s feedback, recognized and taken responsibility for his actions. Although his personal issues are improving, they’re still an obvious worry to him. He’s also clearly stuck on how to handle the changes in his job.

One of Sgt. Thomas’ greatest concerns is how to get this, previously, excellent performer back on track and contributing more, despite his obvious discouragement and lack of confidence.


Chief Jones is aware of Sgt. Thomas’ 360-degree results and is somewhat concerned with her performance, particularly the issues around Officer Dolton.  As a result, he has decided to assign you to serve as a mentor to Sgt. Thomas.

  1. You accept the assignment and are prepared to mentor Sgt. Thomas.
  2. Analyze the situation using the “Individuals, Groups and Leaderships in Organizations”as open systems we have studied during the past five weeks.
  3. Implement a developmental plan to help Sgt. Thomas to improve her leadership in the organization as a whole.
  4. Propose a developmental plan for Sgt. Thomas to address the situation with Officer Dolton with a 30-day improvement plan that contains specific deadlines to deliver on projects and overcome his work-related challenges and confidence.