When Hiring a Type A Leader Backfires

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Here is the scenario: You just weren’t happy with the performance of a key member of your leadership team. So, you recruited an experienced leader with an impeccable background, strong references, and solid accomplishments to upgrade the role. During the interview process, it was clear that this leader was optimistic, energetic, and forceful. Just what you wanted and needed.

Fast forward six months. The transition time and initial “honeymoon” period is over for the new hire. It is the fourth quarter, and you are putting pressure on the team to make this year’s budget for revenues and profits.

But you are hearing that the new gal is rubbing people the wrong way, implying that her strategies and solutions are the better path forward. She is doing what you wanted—driving change and new thinking. Along the way, she is bruising egos and “breaking eggs.”

You have worked hard to build a strong and cohesive leadership team: one that has each other’s backs; a team that relishes a challenge and rises to the occasion, where there is trust and respect.

In your weekly one-on-one meetings with each member of your leadership team, you actively solicit feedback on team dynamics, as well as ideas on how to be more effective. What you learn is concerning and consistent. The new hire feels like she has the imperative to be direct and aggressive, and that she has your backing to do so. And the team is now becoming disgruntled as a result.

This clearly cannot continue. Your team is not performing to their potential and effectiveness is deteriorating. In fact, some folks “blame” you for bringing her on and for shaking things up.

It is puzzling, though, as you are a bit of a Type A leader yourself. And there is no substitute for candidness when facing obstacles and ambitious goals. It was, and is, your contention that this storm cloud will pass and that the team will find a way to “figure it out.”

In our experience, change is good. Especially when it brings new ideas and ways of thinking about problems. That said, team alignment is a precious thing. Without it, valuable momentum may be lost, and positive energies wasted.

We have witnessed first-hand many leadership teams in action. Our sweet spot is marketing, strategy, and bringing your brand to life. But we feel obligated to share our thoughts, if you face a situation like the one outlined above.

Confront the elephant in the room head on.

Do an “intervention” with the new hire and directly inform her about the feedback you have gotten and offer ways to turn things around. Use specific examples and include how you would have done things differently. Coach, teach, encourage. Offer to provide immediate feedback after team meetings, where everyone is present to course-correct. Your years of leadership experience with your company need to be leveraged for the benefit of all.

That “wake up call” may be enough to start to correct the damage done. But be prepared to go further if this disruptive behavior returns, particularly if you are not in the room.

If it gets to the point where your coaching is not sufficient, you may be compelled to put a time frame around getting things back to where they should be. And despite all your upfront due diligence before making the job offer and the hours of one-on-one coaching, you might find yourself with a tough decision. The new Type A leader may have to go.

These are really hard decisions and tough conversations. A point of view from a vested and objective partner may be helpful as you work through such issues.

At Damen Jackson, we thrive on helping clients overcome challenges, including team alignment. We are here to be your partner, your conscience, your devil’s advocate. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. How does your product meet and exceed their needs? How do we maximize the market opportunity and optimize return on investment?  

Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

1.    CLICK HERE to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure—we promise.
2.    We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
3.    If we’re a fit, we finalize the details and get started.

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