manufacturing manager in the industrial pump division of a conglomerate.

At age 32, Ashley believed that she had landed an

opportunity to accelerate her career as a leader and

manager. Ashley had worked four years as a

manufacturing manager in the industrial pump division

of a conglomerate. Based on her outstanding

performance, she was offered the opportunity to be

the division head of a small and troubled unit of the

company, Ultra Covers. The division in question

manufactures after-market stylish covers for cell

phones, smartphones, laptops, and tablet computers.

Although the products are of high quality, Ultra Covers

has been losing money for several years. Competition

in the field of stylish covers for electronic

devices is intense, and profit margins are thin.

Despite these challenges, Ashley took just one hour

to accept the offer. She told the top-management

committee, “I know I can convert Ultra Covers into

a proud and profitable business unit.”

Thirty days later, Ashley began her new position

as division president. The former president was

reassigned to a plant manager position in another

unit of the conglomerate. Ashley’s first move was to

conduct a listening tour of the company, interacting

with workers and managers at all levels of the

division. She also spoke with the major customers

and several kiosk operators who sold Ultra Covers

at shopping malls.

After listening to so many people, making observations

of her own, and analyzing financial and

production data from the Ultra Cover division,

Ashley swung into action. Her first step was to

inform the manufacturing group that if they could

not reduce manufacturing costs by 10 percent

within six months, she might shut down domestic

manufacturing and outsource all manufacturing to

China. Ultra Covers would then become a sales and

distribution unit, with almost no manufacturing.

Ashley’s next major initiative came in a meeting

with the sales manager, Ken. She told him that his

goal for the upcoming fiscal year is to increase sales

by 15 percent, and that no excuses would be acceptable.

Ken explained that his sales force is highly motivated,

and that they are doing everything they can to

boost sales, including intense Internet marketing. He

said, “The channels are already saturated with decorative

covers for portable electronic devices. A

15 percent jump in sales is unrealistic.” Ashley told

Ken it was his job to find a way to increase sales—

particularly if he wanted to keep his job.

Another initiative Ashley took was to order managers

and supervisors to find ways to reduce division

costs by 10 percent in the upcoming fiscal year. “Do

whatever it takes,” said Ashley. “Our costs are too

high for our sales volume. Adjust the thermostats,

do not replace some of the workers who quit or

retire, cut back on scrap. And when you make photocopies,

remember to print on both sides of the sheet

of paper.”

Ashley began to sense from comments she heard

from her staff that perhaps her turnaround efforts

appeared to be a little harsh. Based on this feedback,

she decided to prepare a video that would be distributed

on the Ultra Cover intranet. A central part of her

message was that about four billion people in the

world use some type of portable phone or computer,

and that only 3 percent of them are purchasing a

cover for these devices. She concluded, “We have a

potential market of about 3:9 billion people throughout

the world who could use at least one Ultra Cover.

We have just begun our journey to greatness.”


1. How successful do you think Ashley will be as a

transformational leader at Ultra Cover?

2. What might Ashley be doing right as a transformational


3. What suggestions might you offer Ashley to be

more successful as a transformational leader?

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