Five Clues That Your Team Needs A Leadership Rehab

I enjoy watching house makeovers on TV. They always start with a major structural disaster and analyze which remodeling strategies will turn the house into a beautiful home. To make that transformation there is usually a great deal of dreaming, planning, hard work and finally elation. It’s a process that not only takes time but also depends on the expertise and knowledge of the designers and builders.

In a similar way, our teams and organizations sometimes need a makeover. The culprit of the dysfunctional team or institution is often the leadership at all levels. Team members and leaders don’t always recognize the signs of a collapsing leadership strategy. When we are in the thick of our organization’s daily routines and projects we forget to pick up our heads to notice what is going on around us. In fact, it can take a new person joining the team or an outsider looking in, to identify the crumbling of a once high performing team.

Do any of these comments sound familiar?

“I have no idea whose running this project?”

“I’m not sure what I am responsible for.”

“It’s not my fault. My co-worker messed up.”

“Nobody here seems to care about deadlines.”

“The customers are so upset about the new launch.”

Sometimes all it takes to recognize a downward spiraling leadership strategy is to listen and observe the language and behaviors all around us. But what if we are not great at recognizing the signs?

Five Clues That Your Team Needs A Leadership Rehab:


Let’s begin by stating that a team or organization that doesn’t know where it is headed is sure to face many obstacles and missteps. If a team doesn’t know its purpose and drive, how will it know when they have arrived? Who is responsible for creating the vision? Leadership. But not just senior leaders; leaders from all levels. Bringing an entire firm together, using smaller focus groups can help build a strong vision.


When there is confusion with task clarity, it is usually a sign that leadership has fallen apart. An important responsibility for a leader is making sure all team members understand their role on any project.

  • Write out each person’s responsibilities clearly
  • Ask team members for any concerns or questions about their assigned jobs
  • Explain the “why” of the project and how it fits into the bigger organization vision and direction
  • Remain agile if responsibilities need to be shifted


Often overlooked and yet very common, team members can sometimes run off on a tangent, swerving away from the original assignment. Then a deadline approaches and the project is nowhere but stuck with pieces that support the interests of each leader instead of the initial focus. If people seem to be leading parallel to one another rather than in sync, there is a definite need for a leadership rehab.


The other side of the blame coin is accountability. When there is a tremendous amount of finger pointing there is an inadequate amount of accountability. If this is happening step back and ask:

  • Why aren’t we acting as a team with a clear direction?
  • How am I adding to this lack of leadership?
  • Are there things I can do to bring people together to identify the missteps?
  • Who needs to be included in solving our challenges?


Are individuals leaving the organization at a greater rate? Are experienced people that have invested years at the firm running out the door? If the answer is yes then there might be a leadership issue. Remember that people don’t leave a company; they leave their manager or team. Greater turnover can be a red flag that it is time for a leadership rehab.

What additional clues have you seen that point to a team needing a leadership rehab?






8 thoughts on “Five Clues That Your Team Needs A Leadership Rehab

  1. This is great, Terri. I’ll bet most people can relate to one or more of these. I’ve also seen where leadership has gotten so off course that it becomes a dictatorship. The only person making any decisions, making any suggestions and moving anything forward is the person at the top of the org chart. Engagement is beyond low (even if people are staying) and it creates a culture of apathy. In one case, so much rehab was required that the senior leader was let go to start from scratch.

    Will share!


  2. Thanks for sharing your story with us Alli! I will echo your insights here. I am presently working with an organization that has this command and control piece with one individual who thinks their voice is the only voice that counts. Although the individual can see how their behavior is not allowing the company to move forward or cultivate strong leaders, it is difficult to change their decision-making patterns.

    Thanks so much Alli!

  3. A great observation, Terri: “Team members and leaders don’t always recognize the signs of a collapsing leadership strategy.” So true! And when this happens the apathy is so often so deep that no one cares enough to do anything about the collapsed leadership strategy. It becomes a vicious cycle that feeds on itself.

  4. It really can be self-perpetuating for a team to just keep doing the same dysfunctional actions over and over. It takes strong leadership willing to admit that a team is not performing in the way it should and then there needs to be input from the entire team on how to make an impactful change.

    Thanks LaRae!

  5. This is such a great article! So important to have top / down communication and the ability for all team members to communicate to their leaders! I know that this article is going to resonate with so many leaders that will get that ‘ah-ha’ moment that it’s time for a leadership Rehab! Thanks for all you do Terri!

  6. Communicating in a clear but respectful way will empower leaders to share their suggestions while still being open to other’s points of view. And of course listening without judgment will get the flow of information going.

    Thanks Cynthia for your additions to the conversation!

  7. Great post Terri!

    So many specific examples that came to mind as I read this. And in each example leaders that could not identify or refused to follow the smoke to the source and then ownership of what they uncovered.

  8. Ownership is so important for leaders to model themselves as well as encourage from other team members. To be accountable we each need to have a clear understanding of our role on the team and how it fits into the bigger picture of the project and organization. When leaders are able to articulate where they are headed and what they feel is important on that journey, they will become more influential.

    Thanks so much Chery for your wonderful additions!

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