Lots of negative consequences for companies in crisis

A crisis such as the one General Motors is suffering through has all kinds of negative consequences. And not just the obvious ones.

For instance, top management at Cadillac appears to be distracted at a time when the struggling luxury brand badly needs leadership.

Cadillac dealers have complained that global brand chief Bob Ferguson is spending too much time dealing with the fallout of the ignition-switch recall. They want stability at the top.

U.S. sales chief Bill Peffer recently left after less than 10 months on the job -- the third head of sales to depart in two years. Cadillac sales have been disappointing this year and dealers are wondering who is in charge.

Ferguson has been Cadillac's global brand chief since October 2012, but he is also GM's former top lobbyist and his expertise is much needed in Washington these days.

This was supposed to be the time for a stable team of Cadillac executives to build the brand around the globe and go head-to-head with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Instead, GM looks like it must assemble yet another new Cadillac management team.

The situation is precisely the kind of thing that happens to a company in crisis -- when its leaders must devote whatever resources are needed to save the enterprise.

Of course, GM is playing defense. Any offensive efforts must be secondary until the crisis is resolved. But while managing the crisis GM must make sure that Cadillac -- and its dealers -- aren't lost in the shuffle.

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