How To Strengthen Your Leadership Teamwork In Times of Crisis

How To Strengthen Your Leadership Teamwork In Times of Crisis

woman sitting at desk with laptop open to an online meeting with seventeen colleagues

The level of trust, communication, and alignment required day-in and day-out to be a high-performing leadership team is hard to achieve.

How do you keep that juggling act going consistently, let alone in the midst of a deep crisis?

Last year we started a coaching engagement for a fast-paced tech company that was facing multiple challenges at once.

The board had brought in a new CEO, Larry, with the high-stakes mandate of saving the business in the middle of the pandemic. Larry had served as CMO and COO for several high-caliber organizations but this was his first experience as CEO. The rest of the leadership team was also relatively new, with five of the six leaders having been there for less than a year.

Impressively, they all got to work with intense focus on the most pressing needs and managed to turn the company profitable within six months.

But to make the business’ growth sustainable beyond that initial save, Larry knew he needed to up the level of teamwork within the company leadership. They had shown they were capable of performing their functions well and managing their respective teams in a crisis. However, aside from the polite conversations on how to address immediate goals, the leaders had yet to build strong relationships with each other and truly get in sync.

Larry didn’t want to overlook that aspect, especially since the various departments were not free of conflicts and issues. So, he brought us in to help with team building as well as strengthen his own ability to empower and trust his direct reports. We developed a plan to address three crucial points right away.


As they had been working remotely, the leaders had not had any chance to have those exchanges of ideas and end-of-day, off-the-cuff conversations that build bonds.

So, we suggested a socially-distanced team retreat in the CEO’s backyard to finally get to know each other – something they all began to look forward to. Unfortunately, a few days before the gathering the virus surged and they had to pivot to an online meet. We jumped into action and revised the structure of the retreat to keep the team engaged despite the virtual format.


Our recommendation was that they used the retreat not only to build a foundation of trust but also confirm that everyone understood the big picture for the company’s future.

Larry thought he had been clear with the team about his strategic vision but when they started discussing it, he realized the leaders had been so zeroed in on making sure their individual teams produced results that they didn’t have a solid grasp of the long-term vision.

It was a crucial gap they were able to identify, so they spent a full day getting in alignment on that.


Another important step we helped them take was make the leadership team their #1 priority, even over their respective task teams.

This got the leaders a bit uncomfortable at first because they were used to focusing primarily on their individual teams. Through the group coaching and several conversations, they began to see that having them – as leaders – aligned and communicating well would create a ripple effect throughout the company that would reduce misunderstandings and conflicts between their departments. 

So, they decided to increase the time they spend together, making it a point to intentionally have virtual “water cooler” conversations and continue to bond.

The team is excited about the impact that team coaching is bringing to them and where it will take them. The next group session will focus on how to have healthy conflict as a necessary skill to create a high-performing leadership team.


Even during a time of crisis AND despite the early success, Larry understood the importance of taking time to look at the big picture and invest in his leadership team’s growth. That move will pay dividends for the company in the near and far future.

Is your leadership team truly in sync or are the day-to-day needs keeping you from bringing their collaboration to a level that could yield much greater results?

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