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You Can't Save Everyone

Being a Leader can be fulfilling, satisfying, and even exhilarating.  But there is always a temptation to take yourself too seriously.  Leading does not make you a hero or a savior.  It provides you with the opportunity to impact an organization by establishing smoothly functioning teams and systems that carry out the organization’s mission. You can’t do this by yourself, but you can influence how it is accomplished. In any case, the task is daunting.

The really daunting part is getting the right teams in place.  This takes common sense, discipline, patience, and lots of other stuff that I have discussed on this blog.  A key element is developing the ability to assess the talent of your teams’ individuals.  We all have strengths and weaknesses.  You should draw on your own in determining how to configure your teams.  Look for colleagues who complement your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.  Match the teams and their members to the tasks at hand.

It is important to be able to find teammates who mesh.  This does not mean that they all must become best buddies.  It means that they will come together with a common goal and a collaborative attitude.  Of course personalities are bound to affect teams.  Sometimes this will be irrelevant; as long as the team members work cooperatively, it doesn’t matter whether they are personally compatible.  But be prepared.  In some cases you (and perhaps other team members) will need to intervene, intercede, mediate or otherwise become involved when personalities impede headway.

As a leader you should be guided by the principle (among many others) that you can’t save everyone.  Team members can often put aside personal differences and work well together.  If that is the case, leave it alone.  In other instances, team members will self-select out of unproductive situations.  This gives you the opportunity to save both the team and the mismatched individual.  In instances like the latter, you may be tempted to try to save the team by salvaging the incongruous and struggling member, thus keeping the team intact.  Resist.

Attempting to save both the individual and the team may occasionally bear fruit. But it is just as likely that both the individual and the team will resent your intrusion.  Yes, yes, you ARE the boss and the leader.  You are capable of amazing feats.  It may even appear that you have succeeded in reconciling the rogue individual with the team.  But probably not, at least in the long run.  Your time is better spent looking for a more productive role for the individual and helping the team reconstitute itself.  And getting on with things. 

For the individual, you might look for a better fit with another team.  Or you might indulge in some self-reflection to see whether you are engaging in a futile and ineffective endeavor.  In short, sometimes individuals can’t be saved.  It’s not because they are without talent.  It is more likely because they are without a clue.  You need to bear this in mind as you decide how to proceed with giving people a second chance.


More to come….


This post first appeared on Leadership On The Field Of Play, please read the originial post: here

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You Can't Save Everyone

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