Art's team was too conflict-averse to allow differences of opinion to surface. Despite having worked together for several years , the team remained a collection of individuals who adhered but did not cohere. Art was the only connecting thread.
Art, of course, had played a central role in stunting the team's development. The common perceptionthe going-in story of the group was that "Art does not want to hear any bad news; if we tell him the truth, there will be repercussions." What these repercussions would be, no one could sayand no one was brave enough to risk finding out. But, as so often happens in constrained, stage one environments, a myth had evolved around the leader. In reality, Art was an introvert in Darth Vader disguise. He was not comfortable opening up and sharing his thoughts. This natural reserve gave him an aura of unapproachability, although the team admitted that he was much more expressive in one-on-one situations.
How would Art need to change to become an effective leader? Here is what the team members recommended he do:
Champion a vision of what is possible for the team
Recognize people and their accomplishments more often
Create opportunities for the group to work as a team
Actively solicit and offer feedback
Be open and receptive to other people's perspectives
Be more candid about what he really wants
Prior to the full-group session, Art reviewed the data. At this point, he understood the importance of " depersonalizing " the frank feedback that the team had given him. He took the critique reasonably well, as do most leaders when they realize that the candid responses are intended to move the team to a new level of performance. Besides, it was difficult to argue with the force majeure of the team.
Art became aware of his need to change and of the fact that he was not the only one who should be responsible for turning the team around. The fact that the team was stuck in stage one was not the fault of any one individual. The group bore collective responsibility for failing to confront one another or Art, allowing conflict to fester, and not seeking opportunities to work together as a team. Everyone needed to make major changes in the way they played the game.