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Bob Knowlton at Simmon’s Laboratory

The situation/problem:
Bob Knowlton after having worked very successfully
at Simmon’s lab is now feeling insecure, since Elliot
joined the company, who is very talented and an
expert at his task.
After listening to continuous praises and
appreciations by Dr. Katherine and others, Knowlton
felt threatened about losing his position and has
now found another job in the same capacity and
with a higher pay.

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Issues at Simmons Laboratory
• Bob Knowlton’s inability to communicate openly
• Dr. Katherine’s inabilities to communicate effectively,
clearly delineate roles, and clearly define goals
• Knowlton’s inability to unite different personality and
learning styles
• Simmons Laboratory’s lack of leadership training and
lack of performance measures
• Success of teams may depend on the efforts of team
members, but team leadership is important
• Elliot’s criticizing the work of others he views as inferior.
• Lack of sensitivity towards team mates

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Relevant information

• Bob Knowlton was aware of not being as good as

Elliot, so he encourages Elliot to express his
opinions on the projects. (As a team leader, it is a
good way toward his group members).
• Knowlton, thought his leading position in this group
would be taken by Elliot.(insecurity)
• Knowlton misunderstood Katherine and Elliot’s
intention. He hid his real thoughts and emotions,
and his attitude towards others. (short of
communication skill).

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Factors influencing the interpersonal dynamics between
Knowlton and Elliot in their team.
Bob Knowlton
Felt that his leadership was at stake because
a) Elliot was very sharp and competent and helped the
team resolve some old problems too
b) Katherine was extremely impressed with Elliot and felt
him as a value add for Bob’s team & the organization
c) Bob felt that Elliot with his brilliance, was slowly taking
over leadership ( informal control) of the team

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Inability to discuss his feelings/conflicts with Katherine
and team mates

a) although Katherine and Bob share an open

relationship. Yet, Katherine is unaware of what is
going on in Bob’s mind, as Bob fails to express his
b) Bob should have communicated to Elliot his roles and
responsibilities, reiterating the research lab’s and the
team’s way of functioning.(assertiveness in laying
group norms)
c) Because of his inability to communicate, Katherine felt
Bob was happy with Elliot’s valuable contribution to
the group. She was not sure, how to convey to Bob
about Elliot being placed as head of some other
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• In the face of Elliot’s brilliance and
challenge to his leadership, Bob did not
respond, as a leader of the team should
have done (inability to exercise authority
and control when parity in team is
disturbed). As a result his self-confidence
in his own capabilities reduced.

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- In the first meeting, he over projected himself. Ended

in making Bob uncomfortable.
- Judgmental about people
-Very confident about himself.
- Aggressive in his approach to solve a problem and put
forth his ideas.
- Rude to people, whom he thinks are of lesser
competence.(lacks social skills). Results in friction in
the team
- Challenging the conventional way of problem solving
in the lab.
- Elliot created a perception of himself as a individualist
and not a team player
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• Dr. Katherine

• Good motivator
• Not a very good coordinator
• Believes in Informal group settings
• Ineffective Communication style
• Highly impressed by Elliot but unable to
explain his role clearly at Simmon’s to Bob

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• Bob Knowlton quit his job suddenly and

found a better position with more salary.
• Katherine and Elliot felt shocked on
Knowlton’s decision.
• No one knew why Knowlton had wanted to

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Alternative solutions
• First of all, maybe just let him go.
• Second, Bob Knowlton should have a talk with
Katherine about Elliot’s problem.
• Third, provide Knowlton trainings with
communication skills and his attitude dealing
with people.
• Fourth, give Knowlton a vacation.
• Fifth solution- transfer Elliot to another group.

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Evaluating alternative solutions
• Advantage of the first solution- any other person with
Bob’s knowledge can take his position. But, if the next
leader is not as efficient, he/she might not get involved in
the group or the projects.
• Advantage of the second solution- Knowlton must let
Katherine understand how he feels and what friction
exists between him, Elliot and team members. This can
solve his departure problem.
• To the fourth choice, when Knowlton have some fresh air,
he may think clearly and reflect about .....

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• Jung and Eysenck note that “introverts, relative to
extroverts, tend to focus on internal thoughts rather than
external stimuli, display higher cortical arousal to stimuli
and lower short-term memory performance, and be more
socially anxious and inhibited” (Nussbaum, 2002).
• Inability of Knowlton and Elliot to work well together is due to
their differences in personality and leadership style.
• Team leaders, unable to make considerations for such
differences will often meet with failure. Inability to unite
disparate styles into an overall team style directed toward
goal attainment.

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• Some individuals flourish working alone while others
prefer to be the member of a team. The collectivist
versus individualist perspective is important for team
• Elliot has doubts about democratic principles
leading to higher performance.
• Knowlton seems unable to unite such disparate
views of collective versus individual action among
group members.

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Interpersonal Sensitivity in the Development &
Functioning of Work Teams
• Interpersonal sensitivity is critical to develop interpersonal
• Greater number of organizations are moving away from
traditional status oriented hierarchies & making greater use of
collaborative work teams (Brannick, Salas & Prince, 1997)
• To share common goals and work interdependently in a team,
members must be interpersonally sensitive to coordinate and
keep the team focused on task.
• Members must read and anticipate other members’ needs to be
quick, efficient and successful.
• The construct of interpersonal sensitivity is important to many
facets of work organizations, ranging from leadership to
employee selection and development to improving the
functioning and quality of work teams
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involve employees in organizational planning, decision making,
and problem solving processes.
SENSITIVITY/DIVERSITY: Ability to take actions that
demonstrate consideration for the feelings and needs of others.
TEAM BUILDING/DEVELOPMENT: Ability to create and
develop motivated, cohesive & high performance teams.
and effectively resolve interpersonal differences.
COACHING/DEVELOPMENT: Ability to coach, train & develop.
LEADERSHIP/INFLUENCE: Ability to utilize appropriate
interpersonal styles and approaches in facilitating a group
towards task achievement.
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• Openness and trust amongst team members
• Recognition and understanding of one’s and team
members feelings
• Ability to communicate and express one’s view’s and
• Competence and Likability
• Interpersonal Sensitivity
• Strong identification with team members, shared goals
and task interdependence to develop effective work
• Decision making
• Leadership Skills Page 16