One of the most fascinating team alignment transformations that I have seen was when I worked with a Founder once who was undermining his people and his company. Now, his heart was in the right place and he was working very hard. He had worked so hard over the first 25-years of his company, he had grown annual revenue almost single-handedly to about $10 million.
He did not have a malicious or manipulative bone in his body. He loved everybody and was always jovial and gracious. He was highly intuitive and very empathetic. However, sometimes our strengths get over-used and become liabilities. Mine certainly do on a regular basis.
He was so good at selling his company’s products and services because of this powerful intuition. He booked five breakfasts and five lunches every week with prospective clients, current clients and past clients. During these informal meetings over a meal not only would he catch up with but also he intuitively knew what kinds of questions to ask to uncover any problems or concerns as well as their future goals.
However, this was completely undermining his 22 middle managers that were tasked with working through their teams to provide the products and services to the company’s customers. There was no team alignment between these 22 front line leaders and the Fonder. He had his agenda and they had the official agenda of delivering the goods and services that had been negotiated and promised.
When he uncovered a problem or customer concern, the Founder would act like a White Knight on a horse and ride in to save the day. This further undermined the confidence that he and his clients had placed in his people people had earned.
Once he became aware of this self-sabotage, he was quick to change his ways. Whenever he did slip back into his old habits, we simply reminded him of his vision for the company after he retired. He was highly motivated by this vision of his Legacy and led his leaders on a team alignment transformation that grew his company by 3x within a few years. Needless to say, he retired a very happy camper.