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When the new president at Mid-West U took over, it was only a short time before the incumbent vice president announced his resignation. Unfortunately, there was no one waiting in the wings, and a hiring freeze prevented a national search from commencing.Many faculty leaders and former administrators suggested that the president appoint Jennifer Treeholm, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, as interim. She was an extremely popular person on campus and had ten years of experience in the role of associate vice president. She knew everyone and everything about the campus. Treeholm, they assured him, was the natural choice. Besides, she deserved the job. Her devotion to the school was unparalleled, and her energy knew no bounds. The new president, acting on advice from many campus leaders, appointed Treeholm as interim vice president for a term of up to three years. He also agreed that she could be a candidate for the permanent position when the hiring freeze was lifted.Treeholm and her friends were ecstatic. It was high time more women moved into important positions on campus. They went out for dinner to their every-Friday-night watering hole to celebrate and reflect on Treeholm’s career.Except for a brief stint outside of academe, Treeholm’s entire career had been at Mid-West U. She started out teaching introductory history, then, realizing she wanted to get on the tenure track, went back to school and earned her Ph.D. at Metropolitan U while continuing to teach at Mid-West. Upon completion of her degree, she was appointed as an assistant professor and eventually earned the rank of associate based on her popularity and excellent teaching.Treeholm was well liked, and she devoted her entire life, it seemed, to Mid-West, helping to form the first union, getting grants, writing skits for the faculty club’s annual follies, and going out of her way to befriend everyone who needed support.Eventually, Treeholm was elected president of the faculty senate. After serving for two years, she was offered the position of associate vice president. During her ten years as associate vice president, she handled most of the academic complaints, oversaw several committees, wrote almost all of the letters and reports for the vice president, and was even known to run personal errands for the president. People just knew they could count on her.Questions At this point, what are your predictions about Treeholm as the interim vice president?What do you predict will be her management/ leadership style?What are her strengths? Her weaknesses? What is the basis for your assessment?Treeholm’s appointment as interim vice president was met with great enthusiasm. Finally the school was getting someone who was “one of their own,” a person who understood the culture, knew the faculty, and could get things done.It was not long before the campus realized that things were not moving and that Treeholm, despite her long-standing popularity, had difficulty making tough decisions. Her desire to please people and to try to take care of everyone made it difficult for her to choose opposing alternatives. (To make matters worse, she had trouble planning, organizing, and managing her time.)The biggest problem was that she did not understand her role as the number-two person at the top of the organization. The president expected her to support him and his decisions without question. Over time the president also expected her to implement some of his ­decisions—to do his dirty work. This became particularly problematic when it involved firing people or saying “no” to longtime faculty cronies. Treeholm also found herself uncomfortable with the other members of the president’s senior staff. Although she was not the only woman (the general counsel, a very bright, analytical woman was part of the group), she found the behavior and decision-making style to be different from what she was used to handling.Most of the men took their lead from the president and discussed very little in the meetings. Instead, they tried to influence decisions privately. Often, a decision arrived in a meeting as a fait accompli. Treeholm felt excluded and wondered why, as vice president, she felt so powerless.In time, she and the president spent less and less time together talking and discussing how to move the campus along. Although her relations with the men on the senior staff were cordial, she talked mostly to her female friends.Treeholm’s friends, especially her close-knit group of longtime female colleagues, all assured her that it was because she was “interim.” “Just stay out of trouble,” they told her. Of course this just added to her hesitancy when it came to making tough choices.As the president’s own image on campus shifted after his “honeymoon year,” Treeholm decided to listen to her friends rather than follow the president’s lead. After all, her reputation on campus was at stake.Questions What is the major problem facing Treeholm?What would you do if you were in her position?Would a man have the same experience as Treeholm?Are any of your predictions about her management style holding up?When the hiring freeze was lifted and Treeholm’s position could be filled, the president insisted on a national search. Treeholm and her friends felt this was silly, given that she was going into her third year in the job. Nonetheless, she entered the search process.After a year-long search, the search committee met with the president. The external candidates were not acceptable to the campus. Treeholm, they recommended, should only be appointed on a permanent basis if she agreed to change her management style.The president mulled over his dilemma, then decided to give Treeholm the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity. He appointed her permanent provost, while making the following private agreement with her.She would organize her office and staff and begin delegating more work to others.She would “play” her number-two position, backing the president and echoing his position on the university’s vision statement.She would provide greater direction for the deans who report to her.Treeholm agreed to take the position. She was now the university’s first female vice president and presided over a council of eleven deans, three of whom were her best female friends. Once again, they sought out their every-Friday-night watering hole for an evening of dinner and celebration.Review QuestionsIf you were Treeholm, would you have accepted the job?What would you do as the new and permanent vice president?Will Treeholm change her management style? If so, in what ways?What are your predictions for the future?Although people had predicted that things would be better once Treeholm was permanently in the job, things in fact became more problematic. People now expected Treeholm to be able to take decisive action. She did not feel she could.Every time an issue came up, Treeholm would spend weeks, sometimes months, trying to get a sense of the campus. Nothing moved once it hit her office. After a while, people began referring to the vice president’s office as “the black hole” where things just went in and disappeared.Her immediate staff members were concerned and frustrated. Not only did she not delegate effectively, but her desire to make things better led her to try to do more and more herself.The vice president’s job also carried social obligations and requests. Here again, she tried to please everyone and often ran from one evening obligation to another, trying to show her support and concern for every constituency on campus. She was exhausted, overwhelmed, and, knowing the mandate under which she was appointed, anxious about the president’s evaluation of her behavior.The greatest deterioration occurred within her dean’s council. Several of the male deans, weary of waiting for direction from Treeholm regarding where she was taking some of the academic proposals of the president, had started making decisions without Treeholm’s approval.”Loose cannons,” was how she described a couple of them. “They don’t listen. They just march out there on their own.”One of the big problems with two of the deans was that they just didn’t take “no” for an answer when it came from Treeholm. Privately, each conceded that her “no” sounded like a “maybe”—she always left room to ­renegotiate.Whatever the problem—and there were several by now—Treeholm’s ability to lead was being questioned. Although her popularity was as high as ever, more and more people on campus were expressing their frustrations with what sometimes appeared as mixed signals from her and the president and sometimes was seen as virtually no direction. People wanted priorities. Instead, crisis management reigned.Review QuestionsIf you were president, what would you do?If you were Treeholm, what would you do? Business