Fire the a_ _holes

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Sorry for the subject line. It’s a quote from JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, when he spoke at a Thursday morning Columbus Chamber of Commerce meeting. It was his advice for building a strong company. He said that unless you fire them, they will destroy your company.

Let’s talk about this.

Can you afford to have a jerk working in your organization? Either as a leader, or a supervisor, or even as a customer facing employee?

We’re not talking about passion. Passion can cause blow-ups. I’ve told you here about my experiences with very loud conversations with my boss who was a great leader.

Tough – as in mental toughness – is different. Tough is arguably a desirable leadership characteristic. It’s easy though to label and mistake abuse for tough.

In my experience, the base cause of negative behavior occurs when someone is rewarded repeatedly for an approach based in not caring about people.

It starts with instructions like: “Get it done, no matter what.” It’s reinforced with comments like: “Do whatever is necessary to make the numbers.” Even when the leader doesn’t really mean that.

Negative behavior is rewarded when these ‘no matter what’ results are reached without a review of how that success was achieved.

A message is sent. How you get it done doesn’t matter. If you get results, even if people are hurt, that’s alright. Implicitly that behavior is reinforced.

Just like solid leadership principles, these negative approaches are passed down by example as well as through explicit instruction.

You know the impacts:

  • Good people see this and leave.
  • Engagement plummets.
  • Innovation vaporizes.

Can you afford this?

For how long? It can’t become your culture. The advice to fire the culprit quickly makes sense because every instance of this type of behavior has an exponential impact.

However, as a leader there is an opportunity on a case-by-case basis to divert this negative behavior and turn things around. It starts with a clarification of expectations and then a close monitoring of behavior.

Firing may not be the answer but ignoring these negative influences on your organization can be deadly.

To do this week: Observe, listen, and investigate. Are the individuals in your organization leading the way you want?  Is any reinforcing or rewarding of negative behavior occurring? Create an action plan to fix the problem.

Let me know how it’s going. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On March 9, 2017
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