Here's an example. There were only a handful of programmers in a particular not-for-profit association and the basement also contained the data center. Sitting near the data center in the basement provided a perfect escape route- simply go in the data center behind locked doors. Customers who needed help from IT had to enter the dungeon/basement and then try to find the IT people. Most chose to do anything else. When the new CIO began to coach the Trolls to meet with customers, the Trolls were not amused. Not only did they ignore the request from the CIO, but they escalated to the CEO (who happened to also be fear based) with an elegant and devious story, eventually getting the CIO fired and not replaced.
The CEO demonstrated common leadership mistakes when he allowed the Sheldons to hold the whole organization hostage. As Patrick Lencioni writes in Five Dysfunctions of a Team, this leader fell victim to:
- Absence of trust- didn't trust self or new CIO, did trust people with no track record of success
- Fear of conflict- don't make the Sheldons mad
- Lack of commitment- although the CEO hired the CIO, he was easily dissuaded
- Avoidance of accountability- let the basement people do what they want
- Inattention to results- lack of focus on the value to the organization.