To what extent do you think Maya’s behavior is justifiable?

Maya the Manipulator

Maya is the director of sales for United Events, a company that organizes events, such as trade shows and exhibitions for other companies. In addition to lining up the hotel or convention hall space, United Events sets up booths as well as the communication technology for the events. The company has done well in the recent years, partly because the activity of organizing events has become too complicated to do in-house.

Maya is regarded by most clients and staff as mentally sharp and charming. Yet several members of the sales representatives are concerned about how she treats them. A leadership coach found out the following in speaking to two sales representatives:

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Ivan, a sales rep in the New Jersey area, said, “Maya shows a little disconnect between what she hints she will do and what she actually does. Six months ago I had a good prospect lined up for us to organize an annual meeting for them. The problem was that I would have to invest an enormous amount of time in bagging the contract. The company wanted to go over endless details. Plus they wanted documentation of a couple of annual meetings we had organized for other companies.

“I told Maya that his pinning down this contract might not be cost effective because of all the time it would take that I could be spending on other prospects. Maya told me to keep trying because the CEO might be very pleased with the contract, to the point that I could be eligible for a double bonus.

“Well, I finally did get us the contract even though the deal took a ridiculous amount of time away from my personal life. I did get an ordinary bonus, but no double bonus. When I asked Maya about the size of the bonus, she said she told me that I could be eligible but that did not imply a guarantee.”

Courtney, a sales representative in the Chicago region, said that she was having the best year last year among her five years with the company. During an in-person meeting with Maya, Courtney was asked if she would mind crediting Maya with her biggest individual sale. Maya said to her, “You have had a great year, and my personal accounts are a little below average this year. If I receive full credit for the last big sale, you will still have had a great year. And don’t forget that as your leader, I gave you suggestions for bringing the deal home.”

When Courtney expressed some hesitancy in transferring credit for the big sale to Maya, the latter said, “Courtney, please remember that I am your ally. Remember how I let you off the hook last year on that little expense account irregularly? If I do get credit for the sale, I will not change my mind about overlooking the irregularity.”



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  1. In what specific ways is Maya being a manipulator?
  2. To what extent do you think Maya’s behavior is justifiable?
  3. How should Ivan and Courtney have handled the situation?
  4. What suggestions might you offer Maya for being a more effective leader?
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