Free the village of the unruly beasts, be they people, processes or systems
Beowulf, the Old English poem, sets an interesting parallel for more effective operational leadership. Beowulf, the champion commissioned by the King of the Danes, frees the village from the beast Grendel and the people once again flourish. “Grendels” creep around in all organizations as people, processes or systems. These monsters can limit innovation, productivity and talent.
The King of the Danes, after continued attacks, realized it was his responsibility to slay the beasts and restore order to the land. Consider this: just how afraid of beasts are today’s leaders? Performance coaches are often hired to address people who behave badly, processes that are not working and systems that are ineffective. The processes and the systems take time to fix and, typically, the end yields better and sustainable results. But what’s to be done about those people who are behaving badly?
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT DEALING WITH PEOPLE OF THE DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR?
Many leaders tolerate bad behavior because they are afraid of the consequences. Leaders need to ask themselves “What are the consequences of not dealing with the bad behavior?” To build perspective around the issue, consider the disruption in the organization. The disruptor is someone who generates unsupported or disorderly views of the company, its leaders, or peers, regardless of the guidance or support they have received. The disruptor isn’t happy and thinks the organization is responsible for his or her happiness (or unhappiness), and generally wants to commiserate with skeptical colleagues. Despite attempts to engage the skeptic and overcome objections, he or she continues to be disruptive. Suddenly, the swamp has a growing number of Grendels and not enough Beowulfs.
As the leader if you are not willing to deal with the distraction to your organization, you will be held hostage to the disruptor and the behavior will be victorious. As a leader, do you want to be a victim or the King of the Danes?
For most leaders, the answer is obvious. In practice though, many leaders yield to the path of least resistance…tell the villagers to stay home. So, I am telling you something you already know. And, while you may despise reading the obvious, healthy reminders often give us the momentum to do what we subconsciously know needs to be done. Free the village!
FREE THE VILLAGE today before it is too late. Several steps to remembers in the process:
- Do not ignore negative controlling behavior. Leaders are responsible for results including bottom line revenue, and likewise responsible for employee development and a constructive culture. The latter will enhance the profitability.
- Handle the unwanted behavior immediately, discretely, and factually. Don’t get caught up in debates. Help the employee see the behavior and correct it.
- Do not let disrupters usurp your company’s success. One of the hardest tasks for a leader is deciding when to terminate an employee. Sometimes, when behavior cannot or does not change, you need to make the right decision. Your employees deserve your leadership and need and want you to lead. When you terminate the employee let him or her know why. It’s easy to claim at-will employment or a restructure as a reason for termination. But is that the message you want your employees to hear?
If you are afraid or perhaps unsure how to free the village, do what the King of the Danes did: get help from your Beowulf (the HR or legal). Asking for help is a sign of a good leader! Be strong and courageous; it’s time to slay the beasts and free the village.
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Travis has been an entrepreneur and business owner in Tulsa for over 30 years. He is a certified Life Options Retirement Coach and is certified to facilitate and deliver the Manager As Coach Learning Series (MACLS) through CPI, and a certified Career Coach. He previously served on the board of Career Partners International (CPI) and is an equity partner in CPI, offering a global reach with over 350 offices.