A young, female investment banker has just been unexpectedly promoted to managing director of her group—but she'll be taking her mentor's job while he is pushed out over a 10-month stint as a "senior adviser" in their group. This case offers students two decision points and opportunities to practice difficult conversations: first, what should she do, and how, when she first learns of her promotion? Second, what should she do, and how, six months later when her mentor is sabotaging her leadership?
The case is designed to surface students' instinctive decision-making and communication tendencies. Thus it is short enough to be read and responded to in class. Students are assigned readings and assignments related to the case after class discussion in which they are encouraged to reflect on their initial responses.
The case is quite flexible and would work in any course that deals with leadership, difficult conversations, decision-making, organizational behavior, human resources, and related topics. It is appropriate for a range of levels and audiences, including undergraduate, MBA, and executive education. It can be particularly useful for students early enough in their careers to appreciate that this is a situation that they, in one way or another, may face as they ascend the hierarchy and thus become the formal leader of people who were previously their peer, mentor, or even boss.