Initially, Charlies decision to radically change managing styles from that of his predecessor was a mistake. Generally, leadership changes already have a disruptive effect on the management team (McFarlin, 2006); therefore, radical changes should be avoided unless there are very specific and good reasons to depart from what worked previously, at least until the new leader has established their trust and confidence (Maxwell, 2007). In this case, Charlie was already in possession of sufficient information to know that his team could not simply begin collaborating effectively under a consensus-based approach to decision-making. Charlie should have known that before any such change in management and leadership style could possibly be successful, he would have had to first establish a culture of openness that precluded privately voiced complaints by heads of departments about other departments that they would not repeat in a group meeting. That culture of honesty and of mutual respect is a prerequisite to the collaborative decision-making environment that Charlie envisioned for his team (George & Jones, 2008; Maxwell, 2007; Russell-Walling, 2007). In this particular case, Charlie has the incentive to make good decisions but apparently lacks the business leadership acumen to understand the group dynamics involved (Maxwell, 2007; Robbins & Judge, 2009).
Solving the Internal Problem
Irrespective of the external problem of improving Chattanoogas lagging sales, Charlie must first solve his underlying leadership and management style problem. First, he must take back control of decisions and restore the manner in which his predecessor made decisions.
Second, he must change the organizational culture wherein his department heads privately undermine one another while (ordinarily) refraining from criticizing one another in any open and productive manner. In that regard, he must impress upon his management team that all of their respective input must be expressed during meetings instead of privately behind one anothers backs. Third, for the time being, Charlie must assume the position of sole decision maker in connection with which he must also develop procedures for collecting all of the necessary information from all of his team members so that his decisions reflect the relevant substantive data from each department. Finally, Charlie can announce that his long-term goal is to develop a collaborative decision-making organizational culture among his management team, but that their demonstration of their ability and willingness to operate under his new guidelines is an absolute prerequisite to doing so.
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