Chapter 6

The Bleeding Back Team

When I stepped off the elevator for my first in-person session with a particular finance management team, I immediately understood the origin of the expression “working at the top of the house.” I was so high up I had to repressurize my ears. I must admit that I was a little awestruck by the surroundings: the massive foyer, the wood-paneled elevator doors, the exquisite art on the walls. Everything on this executive floor signaled that decorum was the order of the day. I hid my ratty old briefcase in a cupboard in the meeting room and quickly put on some lipstick.

Slowly, the members of the team arrived. They were impeccably dressed and had firm corporate handshakes. After introducing themselves, they found their spots at the massive oak table, poured themselves coffee in china cups, and proceeded to make polite small talk with one another.

If you had looked in through a window, these folks would have looked like a friendly, healthy, cooperative team. The discussion was perfectly polite. Nobody raised their voices. Almost everyone participated. They even laughed occasionally. You would have thought I could pack my bags and move on to a team who actually needed my help. And you would have been very wrong.

The scene playing out in the room was nothing more than a well-rehearsed show. I knew this because I had individually interviewed each member of the team on the phone before the session. Maybe because the telephone provided a level of anonymity, ...

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