This morning I read a great article from Inc. Magazine, written by Angelina Zimmerman...

A great article and one that makes many good points!

I was giving a presentation this week to the latest cohort of FFWD London, the Pre-Accelerator programme run by The Accelerator Network. Some fantastic Startup businesses that a few colleagues and I have been helping to mentor.

The presentation and subsequent Q&A were around "Communication and an Agile Business Culture".

During the Q&A session, a question asked by one of the Founders went like this:

What do you do with someone on your team who ends up working against your business...?

It was a fantastic question, and it's something I tackle often as a Fractional COO... But the answer has many layers to get to the real truth!

As harsh as it sounds, my answer was to ultimately treat the problem like a cancer.

If left untreated it will likely grow, it will likely spread and it may end up destroying your business... You need to get rid of it!

Often it isn't that simple though is it? In reality, should you just let rip with a chainsaw and start hacking off limbs? Probably not!

The wiser route and the route that a good leader should take would be to go about a process of diagnosis first...

I am by no means a medical professional. The limit of my medical knowledge is running my burnt finger under a tap for 10 minutes after I try (and fail) to cook a Sunday Roast!

But it doesn't take a genius to know that you need to understand where a problem originates or where it likes to reside. Where it has spread, where it is gaining traction and where it's not - and why it's not.

All too often the snap judgement is usually something along the lines of, "Person A is doing a terrible job, they need to go!". But are they really doing a terrible job?

What direction were they given? What controls do they work within? What training have they had, or indeed still need?

Do they even operate within an environment that is geared for success in the first place, or an environment to which they are even a good fit?

It is the role of a leader to define the root cause of negative activity. As a leader there needs to be a level of Self-Awareness applied to a situation. They cannot afford to exclude themselves from consideration of blame.

What if the root cause is not the 'apparent' transgressor, but in fact a failure of leadership or management?

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.
- Stephen Covey

A snap judgement is not based on a clearly defined analysis of the whole situation. A snap judgement is emotional, and not always overly helpful (or fair)!

A leader needs to take a top down holistic view, including themselves!

As leaders we need to find the true root cause before we act.

If we make a snap judgement we may end up acting incorrectly and unfairly.

We may even end up damaging the business more than the cancer would have in the first place.

It is a hard lesson to learn. I have been there and trust me, it was painful..! But it is a lesson that is key to success.

Want to learn more about how to dissolve a toxic culture?

Drop me a DM over on LinkedIn at Dan Holloway. Give my profile a follow and let's talk 😉

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