Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Leaders are sometimes faced with a difficult situation where one of their direct reports behaves in a manner inconsistent with the culture and values of the company. For example, in a consulting firm, a key producer could might treat the employees who work for him/her poorly. The treatment may be inconsistent with the values of the company but, the key producer is important to the firm. There is a price to keep the key producer, but heretofore the price has not been considered too high.

But then the key producer starts to get arrogant about his/her behavior and the behavior causes more issues. The leader is now faced with a problem that must be addressed or will it? Remember, the key to leverage is being willing to accept any outcome. If the leader cannot accept losing the key producer, the leader will be relatively powerless to change that person's behavior. When push comes to shove, the leader can't accept losing this employee.

When we had our own firm, we used to identify our key flight risks. We would consider which of our top people might leave or might have to go away. We then put together a plan if that person had to leave immediately. This plan gave us the comfort to know that we could handle the departure of a key employee.

It also gave us the ultimate leverage in any negotiation with our people. We could handle the result of their departure. It wouldn't be our preferred result, but we could handle it. A leader must be able to handle the departure of key employees in order to effectively lead and maintain the values of the company.

Cheers, Mike

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