When Teams Can’t Decide

by Bob Frisch

THE EXECUTIVE TEAM IS DELIBERATING about a critical strategic choice, but no matter how much time and effort the team members expend, they cannot reach a satisfactory decision. Then comes that uncomfortable moment when all eyes turn to the CEO. The team waits for the boss to make the final call, yet when it’s made, few people like the decision. Blame, though unspoken, is plentiful. The CEO blames the executives for indecisiveness; they resent the CEO for acting like a dictator. If this sounds familiar, you’ve experienced what I call the dictator-by-default syndrome.

For decades this dynamic has been diagnosed as a problem of leadership or teamwork or both. To combat it, companies use team-building and communications ...

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