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HBR CASE STUDY
35 | World-Class Bull
John Humphreys, Zafar U. Ahmed, and
When Chris Knox, a top salesperson at Specialty Fleet Services, volunteers to go after the business of Armadillo Gas &
Power, he decides to try a new approach. After all, no one else from SFS has succeeded with Dale Landry, Armadillo’s
CFO. Knox shows up at Landry’s ranch, asks to photograph his beloved bull, pre sents the photo as a gift to Landry’s
wife, and engineers several other encounters before Landry learns that Knox is anything more than a charming
young man. Not long after he reveals his position at SFS, Knox wins the account. Sales VP Jeremy Silva e-mails the sales
team, praising Knox’s maneuvers. But the human resources vice president Samantha Williams thinks that Knox breached the company’s ethics code. Does Knox deserve a reprimand? Kirk O. Hanson, the executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, believes that Knox went astray not by trying to share a potential client’s passion but by treating the Landrys as a means to an end – deceiving them and violating their personal space along the way. There’s a big difference between
deceiving competitors and deceiving customers, explain consultants Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. SFS needs to clarify
this difference in its ethics code, apologize to Landry, and fi re Silva, who demonstrated in hitting the “send” button that
he does not understand the policies and behaviors that build shareholder value. James Borg, a business psychologist
and author, argues that Knox didn’t coerce Landry into buying SFS’s services but instead simply got the CFO’s attention
and let his persuasive techniques do the rest. Whereas coercion and manipulation satisfy the needs of only one party,
persuasion is about achieving a positive outcome all around – exactly what Knox accomplished. Armadillo got a superior
product, and SFS won a new customer.
Each student will be expected to access, read, complete, and submit a case study relating to leadership and ethics.
After studying the case present any ethical dilemmas you have with the situation and answer the following questions (minimum length requirement 750 words). apa format 2 references
- If you were Chris Knox would you have handled the sale the same way? Explain.
- If you were the human resources vice president Samantha Williams what action, if any, would you take? Explain.
- If you were Mr. and Mrs. Landry and you discovered Chris Knos’ approach how would you feel? Explain.