Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I was in a meeting recently and the topic of conversation shifted to what tools should be put in place in order for leaders to hold their employees accountable.

We discussed the importance of our corporate culture, the progress we were making to achieve a new vision for that culture, and how we might support our leaders to move our company forward. What struck me however was the strong feeling among the team that managers are not able to effectively hold employees accountable unless they have a tool that tells them to do so.

What? Wait a minute. Since when do pieces of paper dictate effective leadership behaviors?

Since never, that's when. 

Leaders Are Afraid

Working in human resources for so long has given me a unique perspective that most operations  leaders don't see; that is, leaders are afraid to confront employees who misbehave. There, I said it. You can disagree, but you will be wrong. 

Leaders are afraid.

In HR we see this regularly....the difficult employee who blazes a trail of manipulation and morale killing behaviors across the department but is not held accountable in a timely manner. I fondly refer to this type of employee as the "Scorcher." I think it is a fitting label.

The problem is that many leaders are unwilling to hold the Scorcher accountable because they lack the confidence necessary to do their job in difficult situations. There, I said that too.

It's not a character flaw of the leader; in fact, most leaders want to do the right thing. Unfortunately they usually have not reached out to the team that can help them gain that confidence and follow through (read here --> the Human Resources team!) 

Expectations Are Important

Now let's go back to the discussion of leadership tools. While I believe it is absolutely essential for behavioral expectations to be communicated and committed to across the company; I do not believe a piece of paper is the tipping point that separates effective leadership from the  morass of mediocre leaders.

People drive change. Paper kills trees. There is a big difference. 

How About You

Who is the Scorcher in your organization? Have you helped a struggling leader gain the confidence necessary to deal with those issues? It's our job to do so. Remember, the Scorcher will burn up that piece of paper in an instant if their leader doesn't step up and lead the way.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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