Landing Forums Leadership How to deal with a leader who has gone AWOL.

  • How to deal with a leader who has gone AWOL.

     Paul Slade updated 2 days, 22 hours ago 3 Members · 4 Posts
  • Brett Nasserden

    June 30, 2020 at 1:35 am


    One of the people in my organization who leads a small team of researchers has stopped responding to team members in any substantial way. By this I mean that the leader MAY respond to an email, but not in a way that is directly related to work. They also have ignored all requests for zoom/video call discussions. On the other hand the team leader also conducts their own research and in this regard is performing at a very high level.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to take some positive steps in this situation? The team has attempted to go up the chain of command for assistance, which resulted in a short term improvement before reverting to the above situation.

    A little extra information: The team members are all very junior compared to the leader in question, and the team has been shrinking over time as people transfer to other groups or leave the organization entirely.

  • Leif Babin

    July 1, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Brett, have you reached out via direct phone call and asked this leader how things are going? There could be some issue in this leader’s personal life that could be contributing to the lack of response or interaction. For any of us, as we strive to build better relationships with others, we have to consider that when a bunch of high priority tasks are piled on our peer or leaders, we simply may not fit into their schedule in the immediate. If that is the case here, you could offer to help with some of those tasks. Cover so that this leader can Move. That is the best way to build the relationship.

    • Brett Nasserden

      July 1, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      Leif, thanks for the response. I have not reached out by phone, that is a good idea. I should have been more precise in my original question. I’m not on the team and work in a different department; my relationship with the leader in question is zero. So personally reaching out is probably not on the table. I should do more to build relationships with people in the other departments in the future. I do have strong relationships with his team members who have been reaching out for help. Unfortunately, I think the team members will not be comfortable calling him directly. Part of this is probably due to some resentment/bitterness on the part of the team members. I can probably do some reflect and diminish action on the resentment/bitterness situation while encouraging them to find a productive path forward. However I feel like many of them are on the cusp of giving up on any sort of relationship with their leader.

      • Paul Slade

        July 2, 2020 at 6:43 pm

        Brett, the fact that you’re not in the team may be a good thing.

        Given the unusual circumstances caused by the pandemic, you’re put into a good position to execute a basic check-in call. This could provide clarity on what they’re dealing with each day, or on the reasons for their approach.

        Simply saying “Hey, it’s been tough going on all levels. You came to mind and I wanted to check-in, say hi and see how you are” might be all it takes to build the relationship and figure out where the gaps are. The intel is likely to help provide clarity on the appropriate next steps.

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