Chapter 1. The Search for the High-Performing Team

“Fired?” John Smith, president of DigiCorp, couldn’t believe it (all names have been disguised). He had just come from a meeting with Peter Davis, chairman of the board, who had asked for John’s resignation. A few days earlier, several members of John’s executive management team had met secretly with Davis to air their grievances about John and to demand that he be fired. The executives on John’s team reported that he was unable to create an “effective team atmosphere” for them to work in. Team meetings were unproductive and, in fact, led to confusion rather than clarity for team members, in part because consensus about decisions was rarely reached. John imposed top-down decisions when many members of the executive team felt capable of sharing the decision-making responsibility. The team was afflicted with interpersonal conflict, not only between a small subgroup of team members but also between John and a couple of key team members. No actions had been taken to address or resolve those interpersonal conflicts. Moreover, John was seen as “untrustworthy” because he often would say one thing and do another, and thus he slowly lost the support of his team. Team morale, motivation, and productivity had been dropping for several weeks. In the end, the team had had enough—either John would have to leave, or they would.

In a panicked state, John phoned us, since he knew we were “team consultants,” and explained his situation. “What should ...

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