Senior Team in Conflict

A senior team of a national educational program was in trouble. Team members asked for a facilitator to help them with issues around diversity and power and the Executive Director asked for coaching. That several of the team members were in headquarters and others were based in different states complicated power differences. Bi-weekly conference calls were dysfunctional and regional and headquarters members often misunderstood each other.
We began with series of retreats, first to appreciate differences in thinking styles, and using this understanding to tackle interpersonal and diversity issues that had contributed to the misunderstandings. We took a systems thinking approach to examine planning and delivery of services and to analyze where problems had occurred. Finally, we looked at accountability, and as a team, committed to new standards. In between the retreats, we facilitated the bi-weekly phone calls, drawing everyone into the conversation, encouraging dialogue and action, and building on the learning and agreements established during the retreats.
A high-performing team with strong interpersonal bonds—able to get back to work.



Engaging Lisa was a decision initiated by crisis. Our leadership had become paralyzed by team behavior that created insurmountable barriers to getting the work of our program completed. The diversity in the team in experience, age, race, personalities and interpersonal skills was so complex that the differences would have been irreconcilable with a typical intervention.

"It was not until Lisa with her personal quiet strength and mediation skills intervened in the team dynamic, that we were able to direct our energies into the actual work of the program. Lisa was able to surface difficult issues in an honest, direct and respectful way that allowed team members to raise their own issues as well as to hear and respond to those of others.

Lorie Spencer
Executive Director
Early Childhood Higher Education Initiative


Back to top