Leadership Development

Dysfunctional boardroom behavior 5 steps to manage

Dysfunctional Boardroom Behavior – 5 Steps to Manage

A dysfunctional board of directors can cause multiple challenges for any organization.
Industry leaders, celebrities, and subject experts often make up Boards. Many of these individuals are not accustomed to having their opinions challenged. So while they may add credibility, there’re not always a mutual fit.

Dysfunction arises when:

  • Individual behaviors, cognitive biases, decision-making styles and communication styles are not in sync.
  • Decisions are inconsistent or simply not made.
  • Board members have conflicting agendas.
  • There is lack of leadership from the Chair, no mutual respect and lack of trust.
  • Individuals react inappropriately under pressure.
  • Boardroom bullies are not managed or members just sit back and watch.

A 2009 Gallup Research paper revealed a 70% productivity gain when groups of people working together understood and were able to close the behavior performance gap. This study holds true today.

Every board plays an integral role in the success of the organization. When Board members are dysfunctional and not engaged, the flow on to the organization can be significant.

5 Steps to managing boardroom behavior.

  1. Commit to being behaviorally smart in the boardroom.
  2. Use a validated natural discovery process to assess key personality traits.
  3. Use the outcomes to build a balanced relationship between all players.
  4. Appoint a highly skilled facilitator to work with individual directors to understand communication and behavioral styles.
  5. Commit to building a culture of understanding, acceptance, and respect.

Understanding different personalities can lead to better decision-making. Directors cannot fulfill their responsibilities in a boardroom where a few dysfunctional members are allowed to control the meeting or obstruct board decision-making.


The Key Ingredients for the Perfect Team

Although most organizational experts agree that teamwork is important to organizational success and profitability, its significance has ballooned over recent years. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review cited that the time managers and employees spend collaborating on work and projects has increased by over 50 percent or more over the past two decades, and over three-quarters of an employee’s time at work is spent communicating with others. Additionally, teams tend to solve problems faster, find better solutions, and find mistakes more quickly than individual workers. This phenomenon is supported by research showing that those organizations with higher levels of collaboration not only have more productive and more satisfied employees, but not surprisingly, also show greater profitability.

Although researchers have studied how people work in teams for over four decades, the current boon in technology, and subsequently data, has enabled them to dig down to the very depths of what makes employees, and teams, more efficient. Research on the effectiveness of teams is being conducted on university and corporate campuses across the world, and at the forefront is the media giant, Google. In 2013 Google set out to find out what makes a Google team effective and why some teams outperform others; was it diversity in the group, was it the structure of the group, the individual skill sets? Previously, Google had conducted a research study to find out why some managers were more effective than others, discovering that those that act as coaches to their subordinates and don’t micro-manage them are more successful. But now the question was what makes a team more effective. This was important to Google since all of their over 60,000 employees work on at least one team. These teams can range from three people to over seventy and are mostly project-oriented. The researchers’ hypothesis was that those teams with the right mix of people with diverse traits and skills and the right motivation would be more effective. What they found, however, was surprising.

For two years a group of researchers from Google’s People Operations (HR) division conducted over 200 interviews with Google employees (Googlers as they call them) studying over 250 attributes of more than 180 teams. “We were pretty confident that we’d find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team”, said Julia Rozovsky, an analyst for Google’s people operations and one of the researchers on the study, ..take one Rhodes Scholar, two extroverts, one engineer who rocks at Angular JS, and Ph.D. Voila. Dream team assembled, right?”. Wrong!! What she and the other researchers found was that who is on the team much less important than how the team structures their work, how the team members interact, and how they view their contributions. They threw their search for the “magical algorithm” out the window.

The research team found that the most successful teams at Google differed in five key dynamics: The most important dynamic, by far, was psychological safety. Those teams whose members felt it was safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other were the highest performers. Most people avoid risk taking at work, especially when working in teams with their colleagues. We are reluctant to admit we don’t know something or are timid to throw out a new idea in fear that it won’t be accepted, or even worse, laughed at. But those teams whose members are open to admitting a lack of knowledge or a need for clarification show an increased openness to accept diverse ideas and actually use them. The Google teams presenting a higher lever psychological safety are rated as effective twice as often by Google executives and bring in more revenue. The other key dynamics, although less important than psychological safety, are: dependability; structure and clarity; meaning; and impact.

Some of the Google findings were also supported by a recent university study published in the Academy of Management Journal. Professor’s Jasmine Hu and Robert Liden studied 67 teams across six organizations finding that the most effective teams felt their work would help colleagues, customers and the community – supporting the Google key dynamics of meaning and impact.

The Google study has universal implications for team-building and teamwork. Teams must be managed well, creating a safe environment with clear roles, plans and goals. The next time you are working on a team, make sure you focus on these five key dynamics for greater efficiency and effectiveness. Your actions will undoubtedly impact the outcomes in a positive way.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity?

I work with and coach many leaders and teams. Although each team is unique, there are some common themes I see as performance and productivity blockages.

Are you suffering from one of these?

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 1

1. You have to be good at everything. There are many smart, good people I talk with, who can’t admit that they aren’t perfect, or still believe they should be. Perfection is outdated and unattainable. Trying to be good at everything should be too. Plus, it will only highlight and put focus on tasks and skills where you are NOT so good. As a leader, stop expecting people to be good at everything. For example, few people walk the earth who are great at being both detail/task-oriented and engaging with people. Consider realigning tasks to people based upon their natural strengths. In the end, the team will get more done with less stress.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 2

2. Your way is the best way. If everyone was like you, your value would be diminished and the team would suffer from a huge blind spot. Instead, focus more on the goal and you’ll realize that the team will accomplish more. You’ll also look smarter and increase your influence by being able to see your teammates as valuable assets, even if they think and act differently, than your way of operating.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 3

3. You’re constantly aware of teammate’s imperfections and wish they would change their ways. Stop thinking that the other person is who needs to change. You can positively influence behavior by trying to understand the other person’s point of view, their strengths and how they are motivated.

Are You Killing Productivity And Creativity 4

Want to learn more about how to identify and capitalize on the different strengths of your team members? Check out our Business DNA Website or contact us at inquires@dnabehavior.com.

Whos currently atlantas greatest business leader

Who’s Currently Atlanta’s Greatest Business Leader?

There are not many business leaders out there who are truly great – leaders that inspire, you can look up to, and immediately trust.

It is not easy to discover your purpose in life, and then, at all times, live it. Today, I was fortunate to meet Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, an iconic Georgia headquartered business. I fully admire Dan because for his defined life of meaning, and who lives it authentically, every day – a rarity in our age. Not just lip service; he lives it in a very real way.

Dan Cathy

When asked how Dan defines success, his response was, “being the best you can be as a person.” He continued by articulating how every aspect of what he does is measurable, whether it is from how Chick-fil-A is run, to community giving, his family and health. To lead others successfully not only do you emotionally engage them but you must be centered and balanced yourself. This is very important in order for others to trust you. So many leaders fail because they live in a falsehood and are not trustworthy.
A key dimension I see in Dan is his commitment to the development of Atlanta’s community, particularly the Westside area. While central to Atlanta, it is one of the poorest. And while there is a celebration of the great wealth being created in Atlanta, Dan is determined to use it to remove social inequity. The development of the Westside area will be a symbol of this change. Otherwise, Atlanta could become more like a Baltimore.

I have learned my leadership lessons from Lee Ellis, another great Atlanta leader in the same level of authenticity as Dan Cathy. The principles I look for in a leader I learned by reading Lee’s book “Leading with Honor“.

Lee Ellis

I would be interested in your views of great leaders anywhere in the world and why.

BUSTED - leadership doesn't have to be lonely

BUSTED – Leadership Doesn’t Have To Be Lonely

Leaders set the tone and direction for engagement in the workplace. To do this effectively they need to identify their natural instinctive behavioral talents. These provide reliable predictors of how a person will consistently perform over the long term. Using their talents, making decisions with the least stress, and responding to changing life and work factors, is what their “go to” behavior is under pressure.

The 2015 Gallup study titled ‘State of the American Manager’ studied 2.5 million manager-led teams noted:

Companies that hire managers based on talent realize a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, a 30% increase in employee engagement scores, a 17% increase in customer engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover. Source

Talent is defined as a special natural ability or aptitude; a capacity for achievement or success
The key word here is ‘natural’.

The majority of managers working in the U.S. today are wrong for their role. That’s not to say these people don’t have talent. On the contrary, their talent probably made them quite successful in their previous, non-managerial role. But the talent that makes someone a great salesperson, accountant or engineer is not the same talent that makes him or her a great manager. In fact, Gallup has found that only 10% of working people possess the talent to be a great manager. Source

The further up the hierarchical ladder a leader goes, the more likely a leader feels isolated and lonely. This is especially true if they believe the promotion is above their level of competency. This leads to poor decision making and even poorer communication. More worrisome is the belief by the isolated leader eventually believes that they are doing a great job!
In a recent survey the Plank Center at the University of Alabama and Heyman Associates, observed the following:

The perceptions of top leaders and followers. Top leaders rated their performance, trust, work engagement, job satisfaction and organizational culture significantly higher than followers at all levels. Things look different and far better at the top. Leaders may often rate their own performance higher than do followers, but the size of the gaps in the study is substantial. Leaders can reduce the gaps by 1) increasing power sharing, 2) strengthening two-way communications, and 3) enhancing interpersonal skills to enrich relationships and teamwork. Source

Leaders may indeed feel isolated and lonely, but the risk is that this creates an information vacuum around them, resulting in employees withholding important and sometimes unpleasant information.
Understanding a person’s inherent leadership style (we all have one) ensures that leaders understand the differences between times of reflection, feelings of isolation, sensations of loneliness and how to manage each state.

Mark Twain

Reflection: Some leaders need quiet time for reflection, planning, thought, and inspiration.
Isolation: Some leaders with a more engaging behavior are stimulated by conversation and connection, yet allow the position of leadership to cut them off from this ‘energy’.
Loneliness: Some leaders struggle with their leadership position having possibly enjoyed the ‘mateship’ of teams leading to loss, sadness and feelings of loneliness.

As human beings, we are not designed to live alone. We’re ultimately designed to need one another. The degree to which that need is met depends a lot on understanding inherent natural behavior. Without behavioral insight, individuals may never fully grasp how to be effective in leadership.

Using a discovery process, such as DNA Behavior, http://www.businessdnaresources.com/natural-behavior-discovery, natural talent can be revealed. This is our natural instinctive “hard-wired” behavior. Armed with this insight, leaders do not need to feel isolated or lonely. This knowledge will reveal not only their preferred operating style, but also provide signposts to the kind of support group necessary to ensure effective leadership.

Authentic leaders build close relationships with people who can counsel them in times of uncertainty. They engage in conversations with other leaders. And they continue to participate in executive education and management training programs.

As John Maxwell says:

Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.

The most effective cure’ for leadership isolation/loneliness is to understand your inherent behavior, communication approach, and talents so that you can be proud of your leadership legacy.

Kill Me Its Another Meeting

Kill Me It’s Another Meeting

Some meetings should never take place!! When the leader of the meeting has no control over them, they are a waste of time.

According to research from Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings. And with an estimated 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted. Source

11 million meetings are held in the United States each day on average. That adds up quickly to 55 million a week and 220 million a month. By the end of the year, the meeting total is well over a billion. Source: (accessed 4/18/15). – Dave Johnson, How Much do Useless Meetings Cost?, CBS MoneyWatch (February 16, 2012).

The most frustrating meetings are when the boss let’s those with the loudest voice have too much time. Even trying to shut them up (politely) just doesn’t work. Then there’s the person in the room whose whole body language says, I know best; no one else’s opinion matters’. What about the colleague who has plenty to say on the way to the meeting, and just sits there and says nothing in the meeting. Poorly run Meetings are an expensive waste of time

Kill me its another meeting2.jpgSource: Google images www.annmarieklotz.com

Howard is compliant, hesitant and diplomatic. He is well liked and respected among most of his team and peers. But when leading staff meetings, Howard fails to control difficult people who upset the balance of the meeting and leave most of the remainder of the team wishing they were somewhere else.

The discussions tend to be unbalanced and very little gets resolved or decide upon.

Phil is the CEO and on one occasion sits in on the team meeting. He senses the atmosphere has no healthy positive energy; it’s heavy and negative; people are frustrated and deflated. Nothing is agreed. Phil knows he needs to work with Howard to improve his leadership skills.

Phil is goal driven, ambitious and yet understands the impact of knowing how to communicate with a range of people. Phil appreciates the importance of getting results through people management and strong strategic leadership.

Using his own experience as an example, Phil talks to Howard about how he felt when leaving the meeting. He explained that Howard needed to change the dynamic of the meeting in order to ensure people didn’t leave feeling frustrated, deflated and lacking a sense of direction. Phil explained to Howard the relevance to his leadership style of understanding behaviors. Further, he talked about the significance of becoming more effective and efficient in terms of managing individual communication styles. He explained that leadership required a person to adapt their own behavioral style to build relationships and meet the performance needs of a specific situation and in this scenario to manage meetings more effectively.

Four Primary Communication Styles Graph

Communication Differences Relationship Performance

Had Howard understood the dynamics and communication styles in the room and gained insight into his own communication and behavioral approach, he would have known how to manage individuals and control the meeting. Phil used examples of how he should be communicated with to help Howard understand communication styles. He then contrasted that with how Howard would wish to be communicated with. Very quickly Howard realized that he needed to gain insight into understanding communication styles if his meetings were to be effective in the future.


  1. Allow a short time to discuss family, life and non-work issues upfront
  2. Communicate at a slower pace and do not make them feel pressured – keep it even
  3. Have office meetings in a more living room environment
  4. Show with empathy that you care about their well-being and desire the best outcome for them.
  5. Give them step-by-step instructions to avoid any feelings of chaos.
  6. Provide lower end estimates of returns and keep them diversified
  7. Communicate security and the safety buffers
  8. Ask them how much contact they would like with you and what type (email, phone etc.)
  9. Indicate your feelings about the recommendations and get them to discuss theirs
  10. Invite them to group workshops and demonstrate how solutions work


  1. No long stories, keep to the point
  2. Keep meeting agenda short and focused
  3. Prioritize objectives around their goals
  4. Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
  5. Lay out the options so a decision can be made
  6. Provide bullet points
  7. Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
  8. Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
  9. Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
  10. Recognize them with referrals to other influencers