Arrive in a limousine with six assistants

A reading from MORS453 Power in Organizations describes how one young manager established the authority he needed to in an old stale organization, ensuring he got his way in driving through a turnaround.

From 'Power, dependence and effective management,' John P. Kotter:

When young Tim Babcock was put in charge of a division of a large manufacturing company and told to "turn it around," he spent the first few weeks studying it from afar. He decided that the division was in disastrous shape and that he would need to take many large steps quickly to save it. To be able to do that, he realized he needed to develop considerable power fast over most of the division's management and staff. He did the following:
  • He gave the division's management two hours' notice of his arrival.
  • He arrived in a limousine with six assistants.
  • He immediately called a meeting of the 40 top managers.
  • He outlined briefiy his assessment of the situation, his commitment: to turn things around, and the basic direction he wanted things to move in.
  • He then fired the four top managers in the room and told them that they had to be out of the building in two hours.
  • He then said he would personally dedicate himself to sabotaging the career of anyone who tried to block his efforts to save the division.
  • He ended the 6o-minute meeting by announcing that his assistants would set up appointments for him with each of them starting at 7:oo A.M. the next moming.
Throughout the critical six-month period that followed, those who remained at the division generally cooperated energetically with Mr. Babcock.