Leadership team dysfunction occurs frequently. It’s almost everywhere.
The climate of an organization often starts in the leadership team’s meetings. If there’s a cordial and respectful tone in that environment, it will often carry through the day-to-day interactions. However, many such meetings do not have that tone. Consequently, they are rarely examples of how tight groups should work toward a common purpose.
Here are some common reasons why these meetings fail to achieve that:
Lack of common goals— If one’s compensation is tied entirely to his or her specific results, it’s less likely they’ll be very motivated to spend time on other departments’ issues. Like my new client, “winners” may come to believe they’re bulletproof and behave badly.
Favorite child(ren) — Some people seem to get away with murder in these meetings. Others get busted for misdemeanors. While this may be human nature at play, there’s simply no place for favorites in a business setting. The leadership team’s focus should be results first and foremost. But the “favorites” can manipulate the direction of meetings while the boss unwittingly goes along with it. This angers and disappoints those who are trying to act more professionally. It erodes team feeling, creating one of “me versus them.”
Psychological disorders – Pathology exists everywhere. Corporations seem to attract more than their fair share, especially psychopaths and narcissists. These types care little about the common good. They are motivated first and foremost by their own status, rewards, and recognition; often seeing others’ failures as being good for their own progress. The boss needs to make it very clear what will and will not be tolerated, regardless of individual performance achievement. By the way, this should be the case outside of meetings as well.
No “5 Second Rule” — Watching leadership teams in action, it’s often clear that many players are not even listening to the others. Some may give the appearance of paying attention, but often they’re just getting ready to make their own case. In this group dynamic I recommend the leader impose a rule that there must be at least five seconds before anyone can respond to another’s comments. Less friction and cooler heads result.
Consider banning the word “but.” Hassles are often created when one person starts his/her response with that word. On the other hand, starting a reply with the word “and” makes for building as opposed to tearing down.
Each meeting is a new adventure — Most leadership team meetings don’t adhere to basic common-sense rules such as have an agenda, allocate time for each topic and adhere to the allocation, don’t allow texting or interruptions by outsiders, document the actions to be taken for follow-up, have a note taker who distributes the minutes from the meeting within one day, rotate the chairperson each time. Without this practice, each meeting can take on a life of its own, directed by the dominant players.