Why leadership calls for tough decisions

A team member has a personal issue that has negatively affected her work and consequently, your team’s total cumulative performance within a period of measure. 

There is no improvement over the past four months and you are unsure how to handle it?


One weak link’s effect on team performance can be shocking. We are all human beings with our everyday life challenges. Being human means empathizing with others when they are experiencing difficulties. 


It, however, is one thing to empathize with and quite a different matter to allow yourself to get sucked into the said difficulties.


As a team leader, you want to tread carefully about team members’ personal affairs spilling into the work environment. If we are talking about a lady and assuming you’re a gentleman, a picture of you empathizing and her in tears recounting her tribulations comes to mind.

This plays out in the office and you just fanned the rumor mills., I shudder to think of the message that sends to others and the general mood in the office as a result.

There are expert organizations whose business it is to handle whatever personal problem your charge is facing.

We want to purpose to have personal matters taken care of out of the workplace — especially emotional ones.

While I appreciate that it may not be as simple as that in some instances, you want to be very clear on what your relationship boundaries are with your team members.

As a leader, getting involved in personal crisis advise, however, well-meaning may suck you right into the core of the mess. It then becomes uncomfortable for you to remain in your position of authority to require performance at optimum levels.

Do not be surprised if the rest of your team members seem to be very involved in one another’s personal affairs to unhealthy and disruptive levels. After all, you have led by example.

It should by now be clear that you could do better on this. Your people need to be clear about the relationship you have with them. It is a working relationship.

The first order of business is exactly that — business. You have a mandate and obligations to your seniors or shareholders while your team has theirs and their obligations to you.

Tolerating personal matters at the expense of satisfying your mandate is ill-advised, however empathetic you would like to be with your people.

Leadership calls for you to make those tough decisions to put a decisive halt to unproductive tendencies in your team.

Such decisions are unpopular, and you are likely to be seen as insensitive.

That said, when you consider your priorities in this setting, being empathetic on seemingly endless personal matters of team members for any period of over four months while performance suffers is not your best judgment. 

It doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t serve the team member in question, your portfolio suffers and so might your position as a result. Carrying dead weight in your team for an inordinately long time shows an alarming lack of responsibility on your part because the buck does stop at you, as the leader, doesn’t it?

The writer is an expert on attitude and human potential.

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