[Solution]Leabhair go leor – Leadership Candidate Selection Report

Background Leabhair go leor (from the Irish meaning ‘Books enough’ or Plenty of books’) is an independent bookstore in Galway City. It was established by…

Background

Leabhair go leor (from
the Irish meaning ‘Books enough’ or Plenty of books’) is an independent
bookstore in Galway City. It was established by Cornelius O’Connor in 1985 and
simply known at that time as O’Connor’s Bookshop.

Cornelius was born and raised in Connemara in Co Galway and
graduated from Trinity
College Dublin in 1979 with a degree in English and Irish. After graduating he
worked in various fields including as a labourer on a motorway in England, as a
barista in a coffee house in Rome, as a stable hand with a racehorse trainer in
Co Kildare and finally as a junior editor with a publisher in Dublin. In 1985
he unexpectedly came into a small inheritance from an uncle in New York, after
whom he was named. This Uncle Cornelius, who had fought in the War of
Independence and subsequently taken the Republican side in the Civil War had
emigrated to the US to escape capture by the Free State Army. He had done well
there, eventually owning a small construction company, but never married or had
a family so left his estate to his namesake, his sister’s son. The money enabled
the young Cornelius to buy a small rundown barber’s shop in a side street off Shop
Street in Galway’s city centre and start up a business as a bookseller – something
he had always dreamed of doing. He also got married that year to Olivia, a Cuban
girl, whom he had met while working in Rome.

The book stocked popular titles in English from authors
from across the English-speaking world; it also had a smaller section of works
in Irish. Although Cornelius believed it would not be economically feasible to
stock books of a specialist nature, he put up a sign in the shop window
offering to seek out and supply any book on any subject at the request of
customers. Not long after opening the shop quite by chance the poet, Seamus
Heaney, happened to walk into the book shop asking if he had a copy of Beowulf.
Heaney was staying with friends outside Galway and had taken a fancy to re-read
the Anglo-Saxon classic saga. Cornelius told him that he didn’t have a copy in
the shop but would endeavour to have one for him by the next day. When Heaney
had left, he immediately rang around all the booksellers he knew across Ireland
and located a battered old copy in Limerick. That evening, after he had closed
the shop, he drove to Limerick to collect the book. When Seamus Heaney arrived
the next day, he was very impressed by such good service and they got talking.
When he realised that Cornelius was only starting up, he offered to do a poetry
reading and a book signing in the shop. This was the start of several similar
readings and signings by Heaney and led to Cornelius being able to attract
other writers to undertake similar ventures – popular writers like Maeve Binchy,
Mariann Keyes as well as literary figures like Sebastian Barry and Joseph
O’Connor, and Booker Prize winners like Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright and Anna
Burns.

So the business thrived and by the mid-1990s Cornelius was
able to move to bigger premises on Shop Street itself. It became well known for
the readings and book signings he organised as well as for special events for
children with well-known children’s authors like Eilis Dillon, Marita
Conlon-McKenna and John Boyne. These continue to be a feature of the bookshop’s
success and only last summer JK Rowling visited the shop while on holiday and
offered to do a signing of her next book.  

By 2005, the bookshop, although still essentially a small
business, was employing 10 people, one of whom was engaged in dealing with
orders from abroad – especially from the UK, France, the Netherlands, Spain,
Italy, Germany and Scandinavia – as well as, and increasingly, from the US.
These orders were primarily from individuals who had visited the shop whilst on
holiday and who wrote directly to the shop to order books.  

The bookshop weathered the recession of the late 2000s largely
because of its niche nature in the bookselling market but also because
Cornelius was careful to plough a significant segment of the profits back into
the business. Cornelius prides himself on offering every customer who contacts
the shop, whether in person, by phone or by email or otherwise remotely, a
personal and individually customised experience, whether they are seeking to
buy one book or stock a home library. It has remained an independent, privately
owned business which has given Cornelius and his family a comfortable living.

In the early 2010s Cornelius brought in his son and
daughter as directors of what has remained a family firm. His daughter, Saoirse
(33), who has a degree in Business Studies from University College Dublin and
who later took a MSc in International Business at Griffith College Dublin, now oversees
the financial and administrative side of the business; his son, Patrick (31),
who studied Marketing at DCU, is responsible for the marketing, buying and
distribution side of the business as well as for online sales, having persuaded
his father to develop their own website. Patrick is keen to expand and
‘modernise’ the business. It was Patrick who proposed rebranding the business Leabhair
go leor  to give it a unique and
distinctly Irish identity  He has
proposed greater investment in the online presence and believes they should be proactively
seeking to grow the business across the EU, especially in those countries,
primarily those mentioned above, which all have large numbers of English speakers.
He also wants to expand the shop’s business in the US where he believes they
should be tapping much more into the Irish American market.  And with Brexit now a reality he has also
been trying to persuade his father to open an outlet in Belfast so that they
can continue to access the UK market; customers from England, Scotland and
Wales have for long been a key element of the operation’s success.

Both Saoirse and Patrick have also persuaded their father
to consider diversifying the firm’s range of merchandise by adding Irish linen
and lace, Arran knitwear and Celtic-themed gold and silver jewellery, items
which can be easily shipped and which are particularly popular with American
customers. On a visit to New York Saoirse was impressed by bookshops which had
coffee shops on their premises where customers were free to peruse copies of
whatever books were currently most in demand. A café next to the bookshop has
recently come up for sale and she is proposing to buy it and emulate the New
York bookshops.

Cornelius is a bit wary of his children’s plans, what he
calls their ‘big ideas’, having seen several bookshops he knows well in small
towns across Ireland close their doors. He is often heard to say, “What’s put
food on the table all these years is books – not fancy gifts or cups of coffee!
His management style has always been very traditional and paternalistic; he is
very respectful towards his employees, many of whom have been with him for a
long time and values their loyalty, but he believes the business is ‘his
baby’  and that he is responsible for its
success or failure. He is reluctant to lose control of it; as a result he
rejected lucrative offers to take over the business from chain bookstores like
UK booksellers Waterstones and US firm Barnes and Noble. He has often heard to
say: ‘I built this business up from nothing and I’ve had all sorts of people
telling me to do this and to do that. I’ve ignored them all and we’re still
going strong while I’ve watched other bookshops up and down the country fold
and die. So let’s make sure we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.’

However, Cornelius is now planning to retire and has agreed
that the business will now need to find a new CEO. Neither Saoirse nor Patrick wishes
to take over from him as managing director. Sally has two young children and
likes to work no more than three days a week whilst Patrick plays in a band and
is often away on tours and does not wish to take on the responsibility of
running the company full-time. However, all three will remain on the Board of
Directors.

They have appointed the HR consultancy firm (Top People
Recruitment), for which you work as a graduate entry trainee, to seek, through
a call for applications as well as through headhunting, suitable candidates for
the new post of CEO. As assistant to the consultancy partner, Helen Reilly, who
is overseeing this recruitment you have been helping her undertake the task of
conducting initial face to face interviews with a longlist of over twenty
applicants; together you have honed this down to a shortlist of three
candidates to be called for final interviews. As directed by Helen you have put
together a report on each of these three candidates which has been circulated
to your boss and to each of the three Directors (see below). Although these
three candidates will be formally interviewed by your boss and the three family
Directors, with you present to take notes, they have made it clear during a
recent meeting that they want you to give your opinion as to which candidate
you would recommend to them. They have asked you to present a report on the day
before the formal interviews.

At that meeting, Patrick, who still believes the company’s
image is quite old-fashioned, asked you to include a new vision, mission
statement and values for the company; this will be put to candidates during the
interview for their comments. He has also asked that you do a SWOT analysis
relating to the proposal to establish a second operation in Belfast. And with a
Green Week planned for Galway in the summer he has asked you to come up with
ideas for the bookshop to promote it. He wants you to provide three slides on
this for the candidates to respond to during the interview.

Saoirse, not to be outdone by her brother, said that it
would be important for you to identify very clearly the strengths and
weaknesses of your recommended candidate and has asked you to propose a
professional and personal development plan for him/her for the period of the
next three years for  the Directors to
scrutinise.  She has also asked that you
identify the five key challenges facing the successful candidate over the same
period.

Your boss has indicated that she has been very happy with
your work to date and that there is every possibility of a fulltime post with
Top People Recruitment once your traineeship comes to an end in three months’
time but that it will all hang now on the quality of the report for the
O’Connor family. So this is a make or break for you as well as for Leabhair
go leorl!

Therefore, you are required to provide a power point presentation
as follows:

A Power Point presentation with a minimum of 19 Slides and maximum of 28
slides (excluding the bibliography and references), in which you cover the
following items:

1.
An Executive Summary of your key
recommendations. (1-2 Slides)  (This
is a crucial element of the presentation as it demonstrates the ability to
communicate information clearly and concisely).

2.
A list of the key criteria
(knowledge, skills and attributes) which you believe the new CEO should possess
with a clear explanation as to why each of the criterion has been chosen. It is
not enough to simply give a list. You should provide 10 criteria and give each
criterion a score so that the total adds up to 100. Scores for each criterion are
likely to vary depending upon the importance you attach to it; (i.e.) they do
not all need to be worth 10 points. (2-3 Slides)

3.
A list of factors which ought not to be considered in the selection
decision with a full explanation as to why certain factors should not be
considered. (1 slide)

4.
 A
slide on each candidate showing how they score against your criteria with a
full explanation of why you have given each score.  (3 – 6 Slides)

5.
State clearly which candidate you
believe would be the best ‘fit’ for the position of CEO. Justify your decision.
(2-3 Slides)

6. Undertake a SWOT analysis of the proposal to establish a second
bookshop in Belfast.                        
(1-2 Slides).

7. A draft Vision, Mission Statement and Statement of Values for Leabhair
go leor for the candidates to comment upon as part of the second
interview process. (3-4 Slides)

8.  Suggestions for Promoting the ‘Green’
credentials of Lgl  (1 – 2 Slides) 

9. Identify areas in your proposed candidate which you believe
will benefit from a personal and professional development plan candidate and draw up an outline plan for his/her
personal and professional development suggesting the areas for development
which you believe that person should undertake over the next three years. (3
Slides)

11.
Identify the key challenges which you believe will face the new
CEO over the next three years. (1-2 Slides) 

12.
Bibliography and references. (Slides
as required)

Presentation
and Scoring of your team members’ presentations:

(10% of overall module grade is for this element of the
assignment)

1. You will be required to deliver your
presentation to the other members of the group to which you are assigned.  Your presentation should last for a minimum of
10 mins and a maximum of 15 mins.

2.
During the presentation, you are required to
evaluate the presentations of your group members using
evaluation sheets distributed to you in class. You should give a score out of 10 and state the reasons for giving that score for
each of the presentations given by the other members of your team taking
account of each of the above
elements of your colleagues’ presentations. You should provide your name,
your colleague’s names and an explanation of why you have given the scores you
have.

Finally,
you are required to reflect on the group’s presentations and compare yourself
to your colleagues’ presentations and to evaluate your own work and give yourself a score – again giving
reasons for your score.

This is primarily a test of your
listening skills and of your ability to identify what is important in other people’s
arguments. (10%)

The marks for this section will be based on the rationale you
provide for the scores you have given – not the scores themselves. Your justification for your
scores must clearly reference elements in the other students’ presentations. (Scores
above 8% or below 4% are beyond the norm).

Assessment
Criteria:

% of
Marks Allocated

Executive summary. Quality of structure
and presentation with
good supporting evidence.

10

Key criteria demonstrating an analysis of the
knowledge, skills and attributes required for the role; a score for each
criterion

10

Identify non-relevant factors and explain why these should not be
considered

2

Scoring of each candidate with explanation
 

15

Justification for
your recommendation.       

                   5

SWOT
Analysis of new Belfast business proposal

5

Draft vision, mission statement and statement
of values which
demonstrate an understanding of the role these play in a modern business
environment.

10

Suggestions for Promoting the ‘Green’
credentials of Lgl

5

Identification of areas for development and suggestions
for a personal and leadership
development plan using course concepts and practical knowledge and ideas
alongside evidence of reflective thinking in relation to learning and
development.

10

Outline
what you believe will be the key
challenges for the new CEO

5

Bibliography and references

3

Creative elements of the presentation (see below) *

10

Evaluation of colleagues’ presentations – Listening
Skills (see below) **

10

* Creativity and innovation are skills which are at a premium in
business and public life. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your own
creative skills and secure an offer of permanent employment.  These skills will be evident in your power
point presentations (in terms of your ideas as well as in your use of written,
graphic and illustrative material – so do endeavour to make your presentations
visually as well as intellectually appealing).

** Leadership and Management is characterised by high level
communication skills and an ability to engage with others at all levels in
organisations. These skills will be evident in the delivery of your own
presentation and in how you assess those of your colleagues (listening). Your mark will reflect how well you demonstrate these
skills.

The Assignment Brief in Detail                                                                                                      
 Your presentation should be in the following format and should be
produced to a professional standard – a document capable of
being presented to the Board of Directors of Leabhair go leor.

A Title Page, including number of slides and overall word
count
 

Executive summary. Quality of structure
and presentation with
good supporting evidence.

Key criteria demonstrating an analysis of the
knowledge, skills and attributes required for the role; a score for each
criterion.

Elements not to be taken into account with an
explanation
 

Scoring of each candidate with reasons for
your scores
 

Explanation of
your choices. Justification for
your recommendation.       

SWOT
Analysis which demonstrates an understanding of the
role these play in a modern business environment

Vision, mission statement and
statement of values
which demonstrate an understanding of the role these play in a modern
business environment.

Suggestions for
improving the ’Green’ image of Lgl

Identification of areas for development and suggestions
for a personal and leadership
development plan using course concepts and practical knowledge and ideas showing
evidence of reflective thinking in relation to learning and development.

Outline of what
you believe will be the key challenges
facing the new CEO

Bibliography and references

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