枪杆子里面出政权 (Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun) Mao
This is no country for old men (Yeats)
Much advice is available about how to improve team work-leadership, recruit for attitude, culture, team bonuses and what have you. If you ask me, the most critical piece of advice is often missing.
It is critical to ensure that power is balanced between team members, without which team work is impossible.
Frank is CFO; he is also the watchdog of Carmen, the main investor and director of the board. Efraim is R&D manager and CEO, Chris run Sales. Eve runs HR and Administration. Dr Paco is Director of Clinical Trials whilst Claire runs purchasing.
Frank not only sets and controls budgets, but he controls budget utilization within each departments’ budget. Frank brings each and every purchase order of more than 3000 Euro to Carmen for approval. Eve must bring each and every job offer to Frank, who gets Carmen’s approval, or disapproval.
The team work in the team is atrocious. Efraim cuts Frank out of loop, and by passes process left right and centre. Eve has a slush fund for bonuses. Dr Paco once threatened to hit Frank after Frank said, “we pay you too much for too little.” If Claire has to make a 10,000 Euro purchase, she makes five purchases of 2000 Euro each. When Frank calls her to task once too often, she tells him to “fuck off”. This happens several times a month.
Efraim has had 3 management coaches and the team has gone offsite for three times in five years. Twice, Frank was not able to attend for health reasons; he apparently suffers from painful hemorrhoids.
There is no teamwork because Frank has too much power. Carmen runs the business, not Efraim. And Frank is COO in disguise, not CFO. In its present configuration, this team will never work well together.
Teamwork is the result of pragmatic compromise between strong people and their respective and often conflicting agendas. Too much emphasis on shared values and lovely-dovey do not create teamwork, any more than universalism creates a peaceful world.
Strong people work together well, especially if they are equally competent. When some are strong and others are weak, there is a massacre.
I am sorry that I have not mentioned gender until now, but it is irrelevant to the issue at hand.