Managing Energy: A Team in Crisis

8 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Erika Hayes James

Erika Hayes James

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Rebecca Goldberg

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


Volatility can emerge in any working group, particularly in a flat hierarchy with no established leader; add diversity and exhaustion to the mix, and a group is vulnerable to buckling under the pressure of its own goals. This fictional account of a contentious learning team at a business school dramatizes both the words and thoughts of the participants as frictions lead them to consider disbanding. It provides a means of discussing the nature of leadership among peers and in particular the critical but easily overlooked role of personal energy management--mental, physical, and emotional; even when the strengths of diversity are leveraged proactively, interpersonal interaction still requires a significant reservoir of positive energy, whereas its depletion can sabotage even the best of intentions.



Jul. 12, 2011


October 16, 2005

Laila, a first-year student at the Darden School of Business, was not given to pacing. She did not like to ruminate either. She preferred to think and act in a linear fashion—from point A to point B. When faced with a recurring problem, she therefore did not walk back and forth, covering the same old ground repeatedly. Instead, she wandered. She was currently walking the second floor hallway of the classroom building and avoiding her learning team (LT62), which was due to meet in several minutes. Laila was unsure if she wanted to remain in the group. It was mid-October, and the first set of exams was right around the corner. In only two weeks' time, she'd be alone with her laptop and a stack of four-hour tests, and she needed the next two weeks to study.

LT62 had been a drain on Laila since the start, and she wasn't sure it would benefit her grades to continue to spend her precious evening hours studying with these people. She had found other women with whom she felt much more of a common bond, both in terms of working style and personal level of comfort—when they studied together, Laila left feeling both helped and helpful. With her outside study group, Laila always learned something, whereas with LT62, that was often not the case. She ducked into one of the second-floor bathrooms and tried to compose herself so she could make a logical decision.

. . .

Keywords: leadership, crisis

Suggested Citation

James, Erika Hayes and Goldberg, Rebecca, Managing Energy: A Team in Crisis. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-1023. Available at SSRN:

Erika Hayes James

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4796 (Phone)
434-924-0714 (Fax)


Rebecca Goldberg (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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