Case study 1: leadership styles


PADM 7607: Case Study 1

John Harvey, the director of a nonprofit community development corporation, knew the historic Strawberry Hill neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas, was in the midst of change in the fall of 2001. The area, perched on a picturesque bluff overlooking downtown KCMO, had long been defined by Slavic immigrants and their descendants. Life tended to be organized around ethnically centered Catholic Church parishes. But Strawberry Hill was increasingly becoming less and less of a Slavic-American enclave.

As older generations moved away or died, new residents with far different backgrounds were moving in, including many Latino families. New residents were often attracted by the affordable prices of the neighborhood’s quaint, modest houses. Asian Americans, African Americans, Bosnian Muslims, and other ethnic groups had also moved in, making it one of the city’s most diverse areas. Furthermore, an influx of investors was buying up cheap housing to rent out.

The area’s proud, well-organized neighborhood association focused on trying to keep Strawberry Hill an aesthetically pleasing, low-crime “cul de sac.” Some longtime residents didn’t feel newcomers shared their norm of neighborhood pride and feared they were speeding the area’s decline. The association fought particularly hard against absentee landlords.

The situation mattered to Harvey because he and his group, called City Vision, wanted to revamp KCK’s Old City Hall, a historic building on the edge of Strawberry Hill that had been left vacant for nearly three decades. Neighborhood residents dreamed of seeing the eyesore converted into retail space or even high-end condominiums. But renovation plans had come and gone over the years. Now there were rumblings about the building being razed.

Harvey’s idea was to use affordable housing tax credits to build about 40 loft apartments in the building. Such an approach meant some, but not all, of the units would be reserved for people with lower incomes to rent there. A former pastor of a multi-ethnic church in his 50s, Harvey had deep ties in Wyandotte County and thought restoring the building could help both the neighborhood and downtown KCK, which local officials were struggling to revitalize.

Negative views of affordable housing ran deep in Strawberry Hill. Harvey’s idea had not been popular at a recent neighborhood association meeting, where some residents slammed the idea. Harvey knew he needed the neighborhood’s seal of approval for his project to win the support he needed from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County. However, if his proposal was going to move forward, he would have to find a way to speak to their concerns.

Case Study 1 Directions

This assignment will be completed in two parts. Students will first post their responses to part 1 in a single discussion board post (use the question numbers so everyone knows which questions you are responding to). Next, students will interact with their peers’ responses. 

Part 1 Directions: Please respond to the following questions, writing 2-3 paragraphs for each question. Your responses to these questions are due Sunday, 1/29 by 11:59 pm.

  1. What is your primary DiSC style? (this can be a one-word response)
  2. Who are the various stakeholder groups in this situation? What do they value and care about? It may help to make a stakeholder matrix.
  3. What potential gains or losses could these stakeholder groups realize?
  4. Using the perspective of YOUR primary leadership style, how would a leader (Harvey) typically approach this problem?
    1. Would you move forward without the neighborhood association? Would you gain buy-in?
    2. What are some of the costs/benefits of this approach?
  5. How do you typically respond or act when something important to you causes conflict?
    1. How willing are you to act in a way outside your “leadership comfort zone?”
    2. What makes acting outside your comfort zone difficult?

Part 2 Directions: Read your group mates’ responses to Questions 3 & 4 from Part 1, and respond to two of your group mates with DiSC styles different from your own, using the prompts below. Your responses are due Sunday, 2/5, by 11:59 pm, 

  1. How are their responses similar to or different from yours? How do you feel their DiSC style contributes to similarities/differences in responses?
  2. Given their leadership style’s “default” approach to the problem, how would you feel or react as another stakeholder in this scenario?
  3. What are the similarities and differences between your view of conflict and those of your group mate?
    1. How would you feel or react to their typical response to conflict, given your DiSC style?

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