This case describes DTE Energy CEO Gerry Anderson’s transformation from a hard-nosed, “old school” leader to an authentic, purpose-driven leader implementing positive change. Students follow along as Anderson begins re-thinking his approach to leadership from a cost-focus to a more holistic view that employees are not “simply factors of production” and that management by edict was not sustainable. But just as Anderson is slowly earning employees’ trust, the recession of 2008 hits and DTE faces a potential loss of $175 million. Anderson is confronted with the biggest challenge of his career: should he lay off a large portion of the workforce to save the company? Such a move would undermine all he had been working toward in his new leadership style and would destroy the trust he had been trying to build in the company, but his management team sees no alternative. What should Anderson do?
This is Case A of a three-case series which can be taught sequentially or as stand-alone cases. The cases describe the organizational transformation of energy utility company DTE Energy into a positive organization, focusing first on the personal transformation of DTE’s CEO, Gerry Anderson (Case A); then on the transformation of the company (Case B) and finally on DTE Energy’s advancement to the “next level” – positive social issues to improve the wider community and societal context in which the company operates (Case C).