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Team Building

The Function of a Dysfunctional Senior Leadership Team

Team Building, Workplace Insight

How does a dysfunctional senior leadership team function? This question may sound oxymoronic – but let me tell you how this works.

Dysfunction creates content for a team’s narrative, providing a context for heroic acts and an ecosystem where exclusive subgroups or individuals can claim their uniqueness and differentiation. It fosters dependency on the leader and increases the value of his/her emotional currency across the team and the organization. It also encourages centralization of power in the leader and those whom he or she favors; creating a climate of overt and covert competition with winners and losers. It sets the perfect stage for a Greek tragedy – the script full of pain, frustration, anger, disappointment and skepticism –

a script which contains protagonists, victims, and rich supporting roles. The dysfunctional dynamics of a team changes the overarching purpose of its members where they lose perspective of the goals of the organization and become wrapped up in their own play.

Dysfunction gives legitimacy to how team members structure their time and how they play out their roles.

They have meeting after meeting, conference call after conference call, and bring in outside counsel to address their poor organizational performance. They introduce experts to present the organization with lessons on how to become better leaders, how to increase an employee’s engagement, how to address employee retention, and how to improve customer satisfaction. They go off-site to discuss long term strategies, sales forecasts, financial planning, and many other issues in order to fill and structure their time while maintaining their dysfunction and proving the success of this Greek tragedy. As it keeps playing day after day, year after year, over and over again, the actors (or team members as they call themselves) lose interest, get burned out, become cynical, quit, or get fired – and new players are brought in as replacements. At times the actors switch roles, but the play is the same. The scariest part is that after you witness this play several times or actually “live it” for long time, it gets normalized or becomes a comedy much like, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” This dysfunction can become embedded in the organization’s culture and a central part of its mythology – not unlike the dysfunctional family of Gods and Goddesses who all lived on Mount Olympus.

Daily Encounters With Imperceptible Teamwork Excellence

Team Building

executive teamwork, executive consulting orange county, execuquestThis week, on a return trip from Mexico, I was sitting in the Centurion Club Lounge at the Benito Juarez Airport and I had the opportunity to witness what I would call, “my daily encounter with imperceptible teamwork excellence.”

As I was waiting in the lounge before my departure, I ordered a bottle of soda water which, within about a minute, was brought to me with a separate glass of ice. The waiter proceeded to pour the soda water into the glass, and then asked me if I would care for some snacks. I responded with a nod of acknowledgment and, immediately, another waiter showed up with a plate of spicy peanuts (my favorite snack). I took a sip of the soda water and went back to focusing my attention on my emails. Without noticing, I turned my tablet in such a way that I knocked over and broke the glass, and water quickly started to spread across the table. In a matter of seconds, and before I was even able to react, there was a waiter with a cloth scooping up the water and pieces of broken glass into a tray which was being held at the edge of the table by another waiter. And all the while this was taking place, a third waiter had served me with a new bottle of soda water and a fresh glass of ice. Read More

What Makes A Team? A Team Versus A Group of Individual Contributors

Team Building

In the previous blog, “Achieving Financial Goals and Success Through Teamwork,” my colleague, Stephen Wagner, described what is a common model in most, if not all, retail operations, and it is the most prevalent operation model in the fast food and casual dining business.Achieving Financial Goals and Success Through Teamwork,” my colleague, Stephen Wagner, described what is a common model in most, if not all, retail operations, and it is the most prevalent operation model in the fast food and casual dining business.

Most retail operators divide their market into regions. Each region is then divided into zones which are composed of a number of retail units, i.e. restaurants, stores, etc. There is often a COO (Chief Operating Officer) who is held accountable by the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) for the overall results of the retail operation. The COO’s metrics are, in many cases, reviewed weekly, if not daily. Reporting to a COO, there may be many Senior VPs of Operations who are held accountable for the retail performance results of a large area of the country—for example, the West, Midwest, Northeast, and South regions in the United States. These Senior VPs may have several Regional VPs who themselves have Zone Managers and each Zone Manager is held accountable for the results achieved by the stores or units within their zone. Read More

Achieving Financial Goals and Success Through Teamwork

Team Building

This is a guest post from a colleague of mine, Stephen Wagner. Stephen is the Director of Operations at Katie Wagner Social Media, a marketing agency that we currently use here in Orange County, and I asked him to write about an experience he had while working on a team.


teamwork, achieving goals through teamwork, executive consultantAt one point in my career, I worked for a large coffee retailer in operations management. The company was known for its great culture, great benefits, and innovation in the retail sector. Additionally, they offered a management training and development program that was one of the best in the country—it was a great fit for me in many ways.

As a manager of one of the company’s stores, I ended up working with two separate teams. The first team was the one I had hired and trained to run the store and provide customer service, and the second team was a team of my peers—other store managers in my area with all of us reporting to the same manager. Read More

Team Building is not Team Playing: Devaluing Meaningful Intervention

Team Building

team building, what team building isn't, leadership development orange countyRecently, I read an article in Newsweek entitled “Inside the Company That Bungled Obamacare.” The author described the nature, culture, management history, and philosophy of CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of the Canadian-based CGI Group, who were awarded the contract and had the daunting job of building the federal online insurance marketplace—a large, complex website intended to help millions of Americans obtain health insurance that, as we all know, failed and caused tremendous loss of credibility for the President and the Affordable Care Act. The article started by describing a two-day event of CGI senior management at the luxurious Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in southwestern Pennsylvania. During the event, PowerPoint presentations were made that celebrated the phenomenal success of the company, their big profits, and its bright future. Read More