It is not hard to detect when a team, or an organization, goes sideways. There are usually plenty of warning signals and symptoms. The only real surprise is how easy it seems for some leaders to ignore them. Symptoms include – cliques, sub groups or coalitions of mixed loyalty begin to form and work at cross-purposes; side deals are negotiated outside of the full team; directives from the top go unanswered or are regularly second-guessed; lack of candour causes the really important and meaningful conversations to go underground; lack of self-regulating, self-aligning team discipline results in missed deadlines and conflicting priorities become common and, sometimes, outright sabotage can occur.
Leaders have to be held accountable for dealing with ugly reality. We know that when a brand loses its lustre and finally deteriorates, the signs and signals were there for others to see long before the demise. People move on to new and more beneficial places and away from bad brands when it suits them to do so, and they do not usually give advance notice. An organization therefore needs to listen to the soft footsteps that mark the early warning signs of a loss of reputation, credibility and brand value.