A recent Fortune article “Inside Pfizer’s palace coup describes: the devolution of former CEO Jeff Kindler; the internal Julius Caesar-type subordinate revolt that contributed to his departure (unannounced retirement) and the damage done to the company’s reputation.

The coaching relationship I develop with my corporate leader clients presents an opportunity for me to assist the leader in looking at the root causes of corporate infighting; identifying the various factions; dissecting the pros and cons of involvement with different factions; assessing the impact of skirmishes and enmity on the leader; identifying

effective behaviors to aid in resolving conflicts and developing a plan to rise above the temptation to participate.

I have coached a number of clients on safely traversing internal minefields; I seem to possess a built in early warning systemdeveloped as a result of observing some failed coups d’état during my corporate days and through my work as an HR investigator and negotiator in numerous corporate internal clashes.

Methods for Surviving When Your Peers or Subordinates are Involved in Subversive Activities That Undermine Your Boss or the Next-Level Boss

One of the best ways to survive internal strife is – well – to stay out of the eye of the storm!

Prevention Works                                                    

Hopefully, you have interviewed enough and said “no” to offers of employment from a few seemingly ‘to die for’ companies and / or been involved in a couple of negative work situations, that you can spot some of the symptoms of corporate strife or unrest.

You might observe a joyless, soul-less work climate.  Revenues are trending down. Innovation is stagnant; customers are uneasy; competitors are circling. People don’t congregate. There are very few signs of life.  People don’t celebrate and communications occur behind closed doors or well away from leaders. You will more than likely see signs of frustration versus tears of joy.  Praise is as scarce as hen’s teeth.

Last year one of my clients was asked to participate in an off-site meeting with her peers. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the bipolar-type actions of their EVP.  I asked her “what would the EVP do if he found out that his direct reports participated in a secret off-site meeting – whatever the topic might be?  Would he automatically assume that his subordinates were plotting against him? ” She decided not to participate; her peers decided to cancel the meeting.

Be Attentive to Early Warning Signs

When Board members asked retired Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler how his subordinates would rate his leadership style, Mr. Kindler felt that his subordinates would say he was a “good boss”. However, the board was notified that he had “routinely berated subordinates and due to a prosecutorial leadership style, he routinely brought even senior executives to tears.”  There were probably many early signals of a distressed leadership team; early detection may have led to resolution vs. dissolution.

When you begin to suspect that corporate infighting may be brewing, take a long hard look at your internal and external ‘positioning’.  Will taking sides enhance or negatively impact your short- and long-term career goals?  If you participate in infighting and insurrection, will your company senior team ever really trust any of the ‘ring leaders’ in future?

What if You Are The Leader With a Target on Your Back?

Conduct your own personal Leadership Style Audit and decide on the development you need. Identify Trusted Advisors to provide you with feedback and a go-forward strategy.  Identify the pros and cons of staying in a company that may no longer be right for you.

Questions for you to consider:

  • What is the price you pay if you become involved in corporate infighting or all out warfare?
  •  What would you do if you had a target on your back?

© All rights reserved.

Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management/career transformation strategies and strategic leadership development solutions. To provide you with clarity on how to achieve the next steps in your career, go to www.christineglasco.com and request a complimentary copy of Is Your Career on Track? Assessment and e-Workbook

Email: info@christineglasco.com Phone: 1.940.367.0837

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One Response to Corporate Infighting: A House Divided or Et tu Brute?

  1. Thank you for reading the article, unfortunately this happens too often.

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