Blake Sports Apparel is a company that manufactures sports appeal and accessories. Barker, the current CEO who took over the company from his father, has been focusing on the long-term development of the company these years. However, the company faces the challenge of a dysfunctional dynamics recently, problems such as mistrust, lack of communication, and refusals to collaborate are becoming more and more serious. This case study analyzes the performance of both the CEO and the executive team in order to find out how leadership and team design affects team behaviors and effectiveness and provides suggestions of how to strengthen the communication and employee engagement to get the team aligned.
Leadership is one of the key elements of corporate governance. As the center of the governing body of a firm, the CEO is in charge of the company’ overall management and strategy and directly lead to performance.

In the Blake Sports Apparel case, Barker is described as being bold and innovative. He is also very inspiring and professional. In other words, his task behaviors in leadership could be highly rated. As a result, the company has largely developed compared with his father’s rule. He promoted his company to the global stage by cooperating with maturer company such as Howell and was able to triple its Howell business in five years. In his hands, Blake Sports Apparel has established a successful global infrastructure (p.2). It is obvious that Barker’s priorities lie in the outcomes and explains why he devotes most time on expanding external resources. He focuses on how to make the company more professional and make more benefits by conducting effective strategic management.

However, there are some downsides of Barker’s leadership. Firstly, CEOs set an example for the executive team just like the leaders set the tone for the employees. Barker seems to be overly relaxed in some aspects, and his behavior has negative impacts. For example, his casual working style of showing up wear shorts and T-shirts causes his team to act less professional during communication (p.9). Another issue is that as a passionate and outcome-driven CEO, Barker has not paid enough attention to his relationship behaviors. He paid little efforts on socially engaging with the employees and this hurts the trust, cooperation, and job satisfaction in the long-term. Generally speaking, relationship-centered behaviors have the most significant impact on the performance of employees and this is the biggest issue of Barer’s leadership.

The efficiency of a company’s executive team is highly dependent on the company’s organizational structure and the development of corporate strategies. In this case, the company’s organizational structure is too simple to meet the company’s expanding needs (exhibit 1). Coordination between the various departments is clearly insufficient. Failure to maintain the talent pool is both the reason and the result of the poor executive team performance. The company has not developed a talent pipeline so its ability to defeat personnel risks is very low. More importantly, it is difficult to achieve consistency in the company’s development strategy, and the deviation of the strategy has also caused the pricing imbalance, which led to gasps in daily practices (p.4). The difference between the company’s goals and specific tasks of the members (p.5) also seriously affected the performance of the executive team, resulting in a serious decline in efficiency. In the long run, the inefficiency of the executive team will inevitably affect the company’s performance.

Team culture sets the tone for the whole working atmosphere and determines the effectiveness of the team. In Blake Sports Apparel, the executive team has not formed a strong, efficient, unified culture. Each department even has its own reporting mechanisms (p.3). Which shows the serious problem of the structure and management the comply as a whole. This directly increases the cost of management, for example, the company has been hiring more accountants and the financial situation grows more complex because team members always have to run bigger departments. It is partially due to the development of business but not necessarily in such a mess.
In spite of the excellent performance of the executive team in the business, the team has failed in collaboration and communication. Under Barker’s leadership, the team members see each other as competitors instead of collaborators (p.10). The lack of trust between team members makes it difficult for the company to achieve open communication (p.6), so it is very likely that when there is a problem each department or member might reject their due responsibilities. The lack of responsiveness and the unsolved problems contribute to a vicious circle. What is more, the company’s executive team has not been well guided to build a long-term perspective that indicates the development, however, the team tend to succumb to everyday practices too much (p.7). The imbalance of internal power of the company has also caused obstacles to good communication (p.8). As a result, the company’s communication is very poor, which greatly harms the internal unity of the company and the effectiveness of the executive team.

The first challenge to improve the company’s management is to realize what the core issues are. Barker and the executive team consider it urgent to bring the team together by increasing their commerce business, design and follow better system and processes, and update their business model and innovation (p.10). More important, the whole loosen and flexible management might face some changes. The company needs to design clear and reasonable goals for the company and ensure they are aligned with team members. Moreover, it is very important to release the tension in the executive team through better communication. For instance, the company could arrange more team-building events such as celebrating employees’ birthdays, etc. Improving the current responsiveness system is also urgent, as well as better handles the conflicts by providing necessary training programs for relevant personnel.

Barker has realized that if he as the leader does not do something, the team would crumble (p.10). He must increase trust in the team strategically and behaviorally. Fro the perspective of leadership and management, Barker need to know his actions affect the executive team and the whole company. He already gave his team lots of credits for excellent performance but now he has to shift from the task behaviors to relationship behaviors. Plus, he might need to change some of his own behavior in order to set a better example for the team. It is no harm for him to wear suits in meetings and be more careful when orally communicating with people. He could also be more socially engaged with his team to encourage team members to be more engaged.
Leadership needs to motivate and optimize both external and internal management. The Blake Sports Apparel case has shown the imbalanced development and potential threats that emerge when leadership has become excessively task-oriented and neglects basic relationships, personal and talent development, and internal unity. In short, executive team effectiveness requires vision but also careful operations and management of social elements.