The blind spot that can wreak havoc on your team

2 common mistakes to avoid as you develop your people

This area of Develop is not an easy one take on. It’s more personal than professional some will say.

business man with his head buried in the sand

I’ve had some leaders even make the comment, “Who are you to speak to me about this area of my life? That’s personal.” It is one that has to be handled very carefully.

Yet, it is the one area that is the “Waterloo” for most leaders. The lack of development in this one critical aspect of a leader’s life leads to more crashes than anything else.

What I mean by a leader’s Maturity is how he or she behaves.

Why focus on this? Henry Cloud frames it well in his book, Integrity, when he says,

These are what usually get the leader. The lack of development in this area is what keeps them from reaching their full potential, at the very least, and causes problems and damage at the worst. Why don’t we deal with this area early on?

Let me suggest two reasons:

It’s just easier to look at production than conduct.

We look at a person’s output in terms of production and downplay their impact on the team due to their behavior. “That’s just the way he is,” we say, “but look at what he brings in.”

This is a short-sighted perspective and hides the real cost of poor behavior. The pertinent question is not, “How much is he producing?” but “How much is he actually costing us to keeping him on the team?”

Recently I was involved in this very situation with a leader. One of his direct reports was quite an asset in terms of what he produced for the company. He could make things happen. Yet, he was hard to work with. In fact, no one on the team wanted to work with him. Still, his numbers always provided a “Get out of jail” pass for him.

Until one day. The three other members of the executive team came to the president and proclaimed an ultimatum. It was either him or them. They were going to leave the company if this person was not fired. They simply could no longer tolerate his behavior. The company, faced with a difficult decision, opted to let him go.

The unfortunate thing was that this had been going on for years with little direct attention given to his maturity. What could he have become if this had been addressed earlier? It may not have made any difference based on how he would have responded. Still, because it wasn’t intentionally dealt with, the consequence was a severe one.

It’s easier to strive for conformation than transformation.

We set a proper behavioral standard and expect everyone to conform to it. This is reasonable and needed. But to get at what is driving poor behavior is much trickier. It’s messier. Sometimes professional counseling is required.

It’s easier just to set the standard and demand people abide by it. Again, I would say this is important but insufficient. This is not leading with a developmental mindset.

I asked a leader recently who was dealing with a difficult person on his team this question, “Is he salvageable?” In other words, is he worth the effort to try to develop him and is he teachable?

If the answer is “Yes” to both questions, then the goal is the transformation of his thinking which leads to the transformation of his values which leads to a change in behavior. And that is not easy. It requires creating a secure relational environment and intentionality. It can pay tremendous dividends, though, resulting in a changed team player.

Left unaddressed, it’s been my experience that this lack of maturity will not improve on its own and usually results in the dismissal of the leader.

Question: As you think of your team, what maturity issues need to be addressed? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.