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Leading The Unpopular Organization

A long time ago, I was asked to take on a new opportunity, leading an organization that was the ugly duckling. Every organization has a team that no one really wants to leave their functioning team to take on the challenge of the team from hell.

What helps them be labelled “that team?” From the outside we see there are one or more of the following:

  • Dysfunctional is a step up on how they work.
  • Their products/services are needed, but not really wanted. You know they unsexy stuff!
  • Customer service is a dirty word around those folks.
  • They set rules and act as policeman to all other groups.
  • Upper management just wants them gone.

You are now asked to take over that team! What do you do?

  • That first step is for you to get over (extremely quickly) that you are know going to be leading “that” team or organization. It sucks! Your passion may not be in it! You have to quickly move into – I have a new challenge and I am going to rock it (whatever it is)!
  • Sit down and start putting your first 90 days plan together! Break it up into 30 day intervals!Ā  The first 30 days is observe and learn (don’t fix). Next 30 days is clarify – putting your focus on expectations, purpose, values, strategies and goals. Last 30 days is align and execution! For more details on the 90 day plan – click the link above.
  • Make sure that you have a very detailed conversation with your management to understand their perspective of where they believe “that” team/organization is going? Follow that up with your 90 day plan details and make sure to ask the management team what help they can offer! Follow-up progress and ask for feedback.

It is very important to you that you keep yourself positive. You must use this as a challenge to help you reinforce your learnings and experiences. I used the challenge to work on using new techniques on communications within the team and it worked well. Hence, helping me be a better leader when I moved to a different team later on.

I know you are probably how this activity worked for me and that team. Some things worked out well. The team did get to functioning, but it was painful. Some folks did not make it to the end. The team was still “that” team for different reasons… Their overall purpose and what they delivered was not always seen as necessary to other organizations, but to upper management – it was necessary. But at least, they were working well together. Meeting their deliverables – with most of the time ahead of schedule.



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