When Thomas Labrecque, chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Corp., summoned his top 25 lieutenants to a strategic planning session in April, they were prepared for the annual three-day budget planning grind.

Instead, the meeting turned into a kind of encounter group. Asked to critique each others' performance, executives betrayed a deep distrust of their colleagues. Disagreements erupted among business unit leaders over the direction the company should go and how it should get there.

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