Mirror, mirror on the wall, why is my team so dysfunctional?

Mastery is all about being in the practice of our art and craft every day. We polish and perfect; then we get muddy and refine again. Off to work we go every day and, hi ho, we become what we practice. Great leaders, great heroes and great athletes all are in daily practice of what makes them great.


Beth loved to get things done and was known for her ability to take on a challenge and knock it out with the strength of seven men. Her ability to consistently deliver on projects, usually under budget and on time, combined with her generally positive attitude, earned her a promotion from a Director to a VP of Operations role.


She stepped into her new VP of Operations role with her normal “I’ve got this” tenacity. The SVP of Operations told her that he put her in this role to shake things up and turn things around. He admired her for her positive, can-do attitude and expected that he could set her loose on the department and that she would deliver in short order.

So, with her normal “ready-fire-aim” way of leading, Beth proceeded to make changes without fully understanding the landscape. She became frustrated with a lack of support from her team and noticed their slipping productivity and continued low morale. Her team was disengaged in meetings, and some of her direct reports began avoiding one-on-one meetings with her. Beth’s HR partner was receiving complaints from team members. Beth began to feel like she’d eaten a poisoned apple.


Coaching provided Beth with an opportunity to see herself in the mirror through the eyes of her team members. The SVP of Operations had a vision for change that had not been communicated to her team, which presented an opportunity for Beth to influence and gain support from her team. As an outcome, she learned that her one style and speed were not making it possible for the team to engage with her. They consistently felt like things were being “done” to them and that they were treated as resources to get work done, rather than contributors to the creative process. Beth was able to find ways to meet deadlines and engage the hearts and minds of her team.