2 Very Quick Questions For MBA’s, Entrepreneurs + Other Students of Management

True Story:

Joe runs a pizza place with 4 employees.  When he is not there, the place runs better than when he is there. Pizza goes out on time, tables get cleaned, customers are happier.

1.  Is Joe a good  leader or a bad leader?  A. Good  B. Bad   C. Can’t Tell

Joe’s brother, Ralph, runs another pizza place down the street, also with 4 employees.

When Ralph is not there, the place is a disaster.  Customers wait almost an hour for pizza, the tables are dirty and the pizza often burns. There’s also cheese all over the cash register.

2.  Is Ralph a good leader or bad leader?  A. Good  B. Bad   C. Can’t Tell

Give reasons below to support your answers.

Bonus question:  Does a regular intake of pizza make you a better leader or just a bigger leader?

Correct answers:


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  1. Todd says:

    Both are bad leaders,
    1. B Joe is bad because he has a demotivating effect on his employees and likely makes them uncomfortable / anxious.
    2. B Ralph is a bad manager because he hasn’t trained his staff to work without his micromanagement.

    Bonus Question: Nothin’ wrong with Pizza! (In moderation)

  2. I think Joe is much better manager than his brother Ralph.

    1. Joe is a GOOD manager, because he, most probably well acknowledging his presence might be a bottleneck for business process, has created an environment where his physical presence is no longer needed. Ultimate MBA = Management By Absence.

    2. Ralph, on contrary, is a typical BAD manager, because even his physical presence is not helping the business routine, and most possibly he had failed or didn’t take any challenge on training the staff. Complete lack of delegating responsibilities.

  3. I’d like to echo Todd on his opinions for #1 and #2.

    As far as the bonus goes, I’d say a better leader so long as you don’t try running for president…

    On a more serious note, I say this because you’re dealing with one very difficult product (food) while also relying on human resources to move it along.

    During college I was one of two employees at a small pizza shop in Osaka experiencing both cooking and delivering pizzas. Definitely more difficult than the bank or online businesses I’ve worked for since graduation. Taste, time and in-shop service were a surprisingly tough mix of KPIs. Fortunately, the owner had great systems in place, completely trusted us and never made his presence a daunting affair.

  4. Christian says:

    1. At first sight, Joe seems to deserve credit for recruiting and/or training his employees, but Joe is not the person who attracts good employees. He has probably taken over the pizzeria from his uncle, and before long, employees will be compelled to leave. He is a bad leader, and quite frankly superfluous.
    2. Ralph leads his team effectively, but his ability to hire good employees and train them is limited. He may be a bad recruiter (and should consult Dr. Tobin), or he may face some cultural hurdles or other decision-making constraints. Perhaps he has just started out in an old shop, and all he can afford to hire is second-rate college students. I wish him luck, but if he wants to stay in business he has to make some painful decisions and trade up. Hiring some of Joe’s people may be a good start.