True story. A CEO of a company shares with his VP of Marketing that he has a new logo for the company. In addition to the new identity, he is ready to share the vision and mission statement with the organization. It sounds like this might be a progressive CEO. Wait – there is more to the story.

Unbeknown to the VP, one of his employees was recruited to help out with the top secret logo project. Not surprising, the VP is floored because he has not been involved in any of the discussions about the logo, vision and mission. “You would think being the VP of Marketing, I would be involved,” he said.

Let us not forget the other kick in the gut – the CEO’s end run with his employee. Yes, bosses have the right to work on projects with whomever they want in the organization. However, the strong signal the CEO is sending to the VP and organization is that secrecy is acceptable.

You have to ask yourself why a CEO would do this. The obvious response is the CEO wants the VP to leave. That explanation is not fully supported if the CEO also failed to engage the other leadership team members in reshaping the organization’s strategy. Respect and trust are missing, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

This situation reminds of some work I did several years ago with an executive team. The issues they faced were not the same, however, some of the team was feeling that trust was not a two way street with the president.

The assessment we did with the executives was based off the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series). According to Lencioni, the model depicts the five issues that create problems in teams; any of these issues may give the appearance of a collapse, but in truth, they are interrelated.

The definition of each issue according to Lencioni is:

Absence of Trust: When members of the group are unwilling to be vulnerable with one another by admitting their mistakes and weaknesses to one another, we have lost an opportunity to lean on each other and build trust.

Fear of Conflict: Without trust, teams are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. The net result is team members rely on carefully crafted safe statements to avoid reprisal.

Lack of Commitment: Absent healthy conflict, team members rarely buy in and commit to the decisions. If there is agreement, it is done begrudgingly or to deflect conflict.

Avoidance of Accountability: Without commitment and buy-in, accountability suffers because it is hard to hold someone accountable for what you do not believe in.

Inattention to Results: When we do not hold each other accountable, results suffer. Our self-interests, such as status and ego, override the team’s agenda.

Unfortunately, this CEO is creating the future of the company in a vacuum ignoring any input from his management team. It really does not matter if he went to them separately and asked questions and then decided how to put it together.  He has missed the opportunity to build the buy-in necessary to carry out the new identify, vision and mission.

In the end, I bet the CEO will miss results too.