When Jessica took over the department, she turned to Mary, her mentor and boss, for support. On several occasions, Jessica asked Mary where she saw the department going. Each time Mary would make a vague comment or suggestion and then turn the question around, and ask her "Where do you see the department going?" Jessica became increasingly frustrated with this response. Mary was the boss, the person with the grand vision. Why wouldn't she tell Jessica what she was supposed to be doing? What would you do?
What Could You Do?
Mary is purposefully being vague and not answering Jessica's question because it's Jessica's job, as a new leader, to create the vision and direction for her department. Jessica needs to think about where she sees her group going, what it will take to get there, and how this fits into the company's overall strategy. The vision that Jessica arrives at will be her most important motivational tool, and will help her to align resources and to keep people focused on the tasks at hand.
New management professionals have a huge task before them. As stated in the scenario, it is up to the senior manager to allow the new manager to grow and flourish by inadvertently forcing them to develop ideas on their own.
What Mary is doing is quite strategic. By turning the question around and placing the burden in a sense back on Jessica, she is extending certain liberties. Mary wants Jessica to think for herself and be innovative. This is why Mary would not definitively tell Jessica what she was ...