There comes a time in the life of every leader when we come to an “if all else fails” decision and that is usually when we have exhausted every possible route to bring an incalcitrant member of the team back on board.
It isn’t necessarily an attitude issue, it isn’t necessarily a performance issue.
It is often a product of enthusiasm linked to a lack of organisational abilities and it can cause lots of confusion and even havoc in the team.
Given that the member has been and continues to be a valuable contributor with somewhat of a behaviour problem, there comes a time when action needs to be taken.
Please note, bad attitude is totally unacceptable. Bad behaviour can be corrected given that the individual has enough honesty to realise the shortcomings.
Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, was equally legendary for his quotes, one of which was:
“I want you to be fired with enthusiasm, because if you aren’t, then you will be fired – with enthusiasm”.
He took a failing team and during his tenure they won five out of eight Super-Bowls.
Another of his quotes was
“The only place where success comes before work, is in the dictionary”.
Question – did he love his teams and did they love him? You bet they did even if they were probably terrified of him.
There is a vital difference between authoritarianism and assertiveness. The true leader understands the need to accept and even tolerate some people because of their abilities without accepting disruption and without taking an aggressive stance.
Here in the UK possibly the most successful football manager ever is Sir Alex Ferguson and no-one could ever say about him that he is a gentle soul. The stories about him are legion and the dressing room echoed many times to the sound of his fury, not to mention the notorious hair dryer.
Again, how do his people see him? Manchester United, love them or hate them, have always had a culture of togetherness and if anyone bucks that trend then their time with the club tends to be limited. The departure of some high profile players over the years is testament to that fact.
On the other hand ask anyone who has experienced Sir Alec in the background. They will tell you that he knows everyone’s name, speaks to everyone and is always approachable.
The easy way out, of course, is to go with the flow and hope that people will conform. Generally they don’t and it is the leader who gives firm direction with respect who succeeds.
The tough leaders engender respect while giving honest, fair and consistent feedback to their people and the most significant of those talents is probably consistency.
Most importantly, not only do they earn the respect of their people, they GIVE respect back to them and that can be the most motivating criterion of all.
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