They couldn't stand each other
It was becoming clear that either James or David would have to go. The friction between the two leaders was tearing their company apart. Separately, the Senior Vice President of Sales and the SVP of Brand Marketing served their business units well. They had immense cachet as members of a highly visible, powerful team. But they could barely stand to be in the same room together, which made executive team meetings fragmented, frustrating, and highly stressful. Decision making was laborious and sometimes impossible.
Their CEO asked me to help solve this senior leader crisis. “One of them has to give or one of them has to go,” Paul said, his cheeks turning red. I could almost see the smoke billowing out of his quickly graying head of hair.
James didn't see the problem. As the head of the company's sales unit, his metric was the numbers, and they were rising steadily. “Who cares if I take a few digs at David?” the tall, burly man said with a grin in our first meeting. “He's too uptight. I'm just busting his chops.” James couldn't understand why the CEO was making such a fuss about interpersonal issues and so-called dysfunctional dynamics.
David, on the other hand, was contemplating leaving the company over the conflict. He found James's behavior intolerable. David, a star performer all his life, said that James's sarcastic comments ...