Question: I’m part of a fi ve-person executive leadership team (ELT). There’s a lot of tension in our team. This rough patch we’ve encountered with the reces-sion hasn’t helped. We’ve had two CFOs come and go and it wouldn’t surprise me if the one we have now is asked to leave. The president/CEO is very demanding. Nothing is ever done the “right way.” Lately, the message has been that people aren’t “listening” to what she is saying. My take is they’re listening, they’re just not obeying her. Both the marketing and operations VPs are competent in terms of what they do, but they’re not very supportive of the rest of the team. In my role as VP of HR, I’m caught in the middle. Some days my offi ce is a revolving door as each one comes in to complain about one of the others. Despite some efforts to “talk it out,” for every step we take forward as a team, it seems like we take two or three steps in reverse. The truth is we’re not a team—we know it, and the rest of the company knows it. Please outline some sug-gestions before the wheels come off all the way.
Answer: Given that the work I pursue in my consulting practice focuses on improving organizational, team or work area, and in-dividual performance, I hope you are not surprised when I say that this is not an un-common situation. Over the years, I have probably seen more leadership teams that operate like what you describe than ones where everything is running smoothly.