transforming a team

A strong leader causes waves in the executive team

When you’re a high energy, achievement-oriented leader, you surround yourself with others just like you.  You assume that others will learn to work together by themselves to reach ever more ambitious annual goals set by the corporate office.  You believe that just by working harder you will overcome any obstacles in your path. You move fast, you multi-task, you overbook your schedule every day to get more things done – and sometimes this can lead to a ship-like wake that can swamp others, resulting in sub-optimal performance of the team as a whole.

Michelle, CEO of a four hospital group within a larger system, was highly effective in her position. She willingly and eagerly took on anything the corporate office would throw at her and drove her team very hard to achieve the goals.  Her move-at-warp-speed management style, although inspiring, was difficult to keep up with and seemed to change direction often. As not to waste effort, team members would sometimes wait to see if the new direction would stick before they took action.  When this bias towards waiting meant more attention from Michelle, the effect was strain and tentativeness within the Executive Team. Everyone’s intentions were good, yet team results were less than desired.

On top of this, Michelle and the team were under pressure to embrace the newest corporate strategic plan, and she wanted to get some “air under their wings” to reach the new heights set for them.  She thought about the facilitators for the previous 3 years of offsite team retreats. Although each retreat was fun and informative, they hadn’t had the lasting impact on the team she needed.


To move forward, Michelle turned to Steve. He interviewed her top reports to identify the challenges that the team was facing.  He designed an agenda for a two day offsite to meld the team into one unit using the Goal-Focused Teambuilding approach. The top reports were quick to understand that their problems were universal and a simultaneously supportive and challenging environment focused on team success was just what was needed.

During the offsite process, Steve worked with the Executive Team and Michelle to explore the elements of Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results as keys for teams to work together. The entire team was better able to understand each other in a meaningful yet not touchy-feely way. By the end of the retreat, Michelle and her team were able to commit to shared goals and better ways to work with each other for the good of everyone.


At the final follow-up session months after the initial retreat, the team was proud to report accelerated group performance, full commitment to the strategic plan, and much higher morale. Privately, Michelle shared that her delegation to her COO of many of the day-to-day decisions had enabled her to play a much more strategic role at the system level. At year-end, Michelle’s hospitals made their financial goals and their plan goals for quality and patient safety.