Who Do You Have On your Team?

A highly effective leader knows and understands that to build a high performing team, you can’t focus on the product, you can’t focus on the competition, and you can’t focus on results. You MUST focus on the people.

How would you describe the atmosphere in your team right now? Is it positive? Is it negative? Do the team feel that you care for them? The reason I ask this is because when people leave a team or an organisation, the main reason is not because of the job.

The main reason is because of the relationship they have with their boss. If the relationship is good, then they will tend to stay. If the relationship is bad, then they are more likely to leave. How is the relationship with your team?

1. Reasons Why People Leave Their Job

If you think back to your career, if you have ever left a job, what was the reason you left that job? Was it because you didn’t like the job, or you didn’t have a good relationship with your boss?

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I know for me, when I have left most jobs in the past, it was because of the relationship with my boss. Speaking with my friends and past colleagues, they left their jobs for the same reason too.

In some of the teams I have led, I have had people leave because our relationship was breaking down. That was a failure on my part, but it was something I learned from, and I never let that happen again.

What I found that was even worse was a team member, or team members who disengaged with everything we were doing. They were part of the team physically, but mentally and emotionally they were somewhere else, and didn’t care.

So, they have quit the team, but stay anyway, because they were getting good money. It was my responsibility to deal with that, and the best way to deal with it was to remove them from the team.

If I didn’t remove them then they would influence the rest of the team in a very negative way. My leadership and integrity would also be under question. I couldn’t allow that to happen and removed them ASAP. Once they were out of the team, things improved.

2. What To Focus On As A Team Leader

Your best performing team members is who you need to focus on, but if you have team members who are contaminating the rest of the team, then you need to remove them. If you don’t remove them then your best performers will move on.

Other companies or departments would happily take them, and you cannot afford that. So you need to look within yourself, and decide how much you want to keep your best performers. What lengths will you go to, to ensure they stay?

I’ve worked with some really great performers in my career, but I’ve seen some of them reluctantly leave the team, and the company. I was actually one of them.

The reasons we wanted to leave this time was not solely due to the relationship with the boss, it was because we were working with team members who didn’t want to be there.

But, they wouldn’t leave. I found it amazing that they would want to continue being miserable in life, and drag everybody else down to be as miserable as they were. In the end, because our leaders wouldn’t remove these people from the team, we had no choice but to move on.

Making the decision to remove a team member from the team was very tough I found. However, it is something that has to be done. Low performing leaders will not make this decision, and will allow the poor performers to remain in the team.

What the low performing leader doesn’t know is that he/she is dragging the team down by not removing the poor performers.

3. How I learned From My Mistakes

When I was engineering technical manager for a London based train operating company, I had an issue. The team was very big, and there were a number of poor performers in the team.

I allowed them to stay, and over time the team got worse. My best performers were getting very upset, so the poor performers were removed. What I was upset about was, I should have dealt with it a lot earlier. This was something I learned from, and wouldn’t let happen again.

The reason low performing leaders do not deal with the low performers by removing them, is because of what comes after. They don’t want to go through the process of hiring new people, and interviewing.

They see this as an obstacle, rather than embracing it as a change, or an improvement. So, they choose the easy way out and let the low performers stay. That is how I saw it until I made that tough decision, and would never let that happen again.

A highly effective leader will know very quickly who their low performers are. They will realise that if they cannot grow and develop them anymore, then they will remove them.

A highly effective leader will see this as an opportunity to strengthen the team, by hiring a new team member. By acting this way, the team will start to feel and perform better. Results will improve, and morale will be lifted.

The leader’s influence will increase, and the team will increase their respect and trust in him/her. While the team is one or two positions vacant, the existing team will not mind covering those vacancies. That will show that they respect what the leader has just done for them, by removing toxic people.

Then, when the new team member, or team members are recruited, the best performers will help bring them up to speed. They will lead this new change in the team, and increase their influence further. This will multiply the leader’s influence, and improve morale in the team even more.

At this stage in my life and career, and with the experiences I’ve had leading teams, I know that you need to focus on your best performers. Focus on them by being very deliberate with them. That is how you retain them.

The leadership principles that you are learning, if you apply them, then your best performers will not only stay, but they will thrive. By reading this post I know you want to create a high performing team.

4. What Kind Of Team Do You Want?

I know you want a team that values you as the leader. I know you want a team that value each other. I know you want a team that work well together. I know you want a team that love working with the organisation.

Your best performers will love increasing their influence, by helping the other team members. They will love multiplying your influence. If you apply what you are learning, you will be on the right path to making this happen for your team.

A low performing leader will more than likely have a team of low performers, and the reason for that is because the insecure leader is a low performer too. To attract and retain good performers, you need to be a great performer.

Then you can develop your good performers into great performers. That is what a highly effective leader does. Is this you?

When you start to apply these leadership principles and you begin to improve as a leader, your team will begin to improve too. As this is happening, you will gain other followers from outside your team.

You will begin to attract good performers who want to join you in the future. Then, as you are growing and developing your team, your best performers will become leaders themselves. They will become good enough to take up your position. Or, they could take up another leadership position within the company.

If they do, then you must feel nothing but pride, and encourage them to move on. Only if that is what they want, and they are ready. If they do move on, you will have attracted other good performers to take their position. So, the recruitment process will become easier for you.

I’ve discussed earlier about my relationship with my engineering director when I worked in Liverpool, and how he put me through University, and developed me.

However, he didn’t just develop me, he developed almost everybody in the engineering department. He was creating leaders within his department.

He focussed on improving everyone’s environment and the facilities, then he deliberately focussed on improving us. He wanted to create leaders, so he would put his best performers through development training.

Then he would give them opportunities to become stars. When he focussed on his best performers and developed them, he would fill leadership positions with the same best performers. The great thing was, they already had the leadership training, and opportunities to practice before they took up the role.

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As for me, a leadership position became available in Scotland as an engineering production manager, and he encouraged me to take up that role. The reason he did that was not to remove me from the team, it was because he knew it would be good for me.

He did tell me the pride he felt in helping me get to this position, and I will never forget him for that. He was a highly effective leader.

When you become a highly effective leader, you too will feel the same pride he, me and many other highly effective leaders feel when they help, grow and develop their teams.

A highly effective leader looks forward and pulls his team with him to the future. An insecure leader looks backwards and pushes his team from the past.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (Lead, Grow, Influence)

26 thoughts on “Who Do You Have On your Team?

  1. Very interesting article, Tom! Thank you for sharing. This also applies to music and music groups and I found it fascinating how much of it I could actually use. When some or our groups are just not performing well, we give some slack and hope for the better. But usually, in the end, the groups splits up as we wouldn’t want to remove anyone. Also, our environment is very competitive and small. So every one will know that we cut some one loose and that could affect many more realities than just our little group. So most of the times, we just split or drag along.
    Would you have any better advice in the musical field?
    Thank you
    Jan

    1. Hey Jan,

      I totally understand where you are coming from. I am a guitar player and I have played in many bands.

      These principles will apply to bands definitely, you just need to establish who is the band leader. When you have a band leader, you can rely on that person to have final say when it comes to who is in the band and who to let go of. When they have final say, the rest of the band must follow them. But, make sure that the leader is a person that the rest of the band follow because they want to, not because they have to.

      This will stop your bands from splitting up all the time. When we established a band leader, it was a lot better.

      Hope that helps.

      Tom

  2. Very great and informative article.I’m a supervisor so I understand and can relate to this article and it’s a lot of helpful tips.What would you do if you got an employee who,s a high performer with a low performer attitude and upper management loves there results so they don’t care about the person attitude because they don’t have to deal with them everyday.

    1. Hey Telly,

      Thanks for your comment, and I’m really pleased you found the tips valuable.

      If you have a high performer with a low performing attitude, you need to get to the root cause of his attitude. If he is part of your team, then you cannot let the person carry on with a poor attitude. You need to address it with them.

      After you have discussed it with them and their attitude doesn’t change, then you need to remove them from your team. They will be dragging the rest of the team down.

      If upper management don’t like it, then you need to convince them by explaining very clearly what the situation is.

      Hope this helps,

      Tom

  3. Ugh. Can I forward this article to my boss? If only more leaders understood this instead of putting their needs first, promoting favoritism and discouraging progress. It is really damaging to employees and their motivation. Thank you for this. It was eye opening!

    1. Hi Virginia,

      Thanks for your comment, really pleased you found it valuable.

      Please do share this with your boss. I know a few people who have shared this and my other articles with their boss too.

      Thanks again and all the best,

      Tom

  4. Great article Tom! Being involved in football (soccer) most of my life I can relate to a lot of this. I like what you say about insecurity. I’ve noticed that some bosses tend to feel threatened by competence and high performing individuals. Ego before the interest of the group/project.
    In my experience, being a (good) leader means accepting the responsibility of moral excellence and integrity. And like you’re saying, a good leader lifts people up and is never threatened by their excellence.

    Adam

    1. Hi Adam,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you found it valuable.

      You are absolutely right. Accepting the responsibility of moral excellence and integrity is what it means to be a leader. I love how you say that.

      If you are a football coach then you will know first hand how to lead a team. I am a Liverpool fan. Who is your team?

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. A great article Tom. I currently work as general manager in an office / show room and your article really gave me some new things to put into practice. Keep up the good work!!

    1. Hi Russ,

      Thanks for your comment. Really happy that you found it valuable.

      It’s great to hear that you will try to practice these principles. If you need any further advice or help then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom, this article is great. I can relate well to this earlier in my career in investment banking and now as a business adviser I deal with it quite regularly with clients . None of them want to remove the person even though they know it’s what’s required. Yes, it’s not pleasant but the alternative is worse and far mostly costly

    1. Hi Sass,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you found it valuable.

      Removing people from teams is not pleasant, but if it’s required then we must do it. I still find it difficult now, even though I’ve done it many times. It is all part of our personal growth and character building.

      Keep in touch and all the best,

      Tom

  7. Excellent post. I’ve worked for the same company for the past 13 years in a multitude of capacities on the sales team. Working with leadership that you trust, admire and believe in is so crucial to your success…I’ve worked with both ends and nothing is worse than working on a team that lacks sound leadership.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Working in a team that has a great leader, and another team that has a weak leader is like night and day.

      You are right, you need to believe in, and trust your leader. It is the leader’s role to make a leader out of you, and the only way to do that is to lead by example.

      If you need any further help or motivation then don’t hesitate to revisit and keep engaging.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. This is an interesting piece of team dynamic. I am still a young professional but am trying to learn about people’s motivations as I believe it is very important. From you post I see that a driver and motivator for many people is their relationship with their superior and their team members. It’s really interesting the impact that negative team members can have on the whole team’s performance. Thank you for your advice on how to handle this. I hope to continue to learn more about effective leadership from your Site.

    1. Hi Carly,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Our relationships with our leaders and teammates are so important, and how we handle the people who are not on our wavelength or share our values is just as important.

      What inspires and motivates a person is something we should know as quickly as possible if we are going have them pulling in the same direction as we are.

      If you need any further help on motivation then please revisit and ask questions.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom. Thank you for a great effort. We all start our careers as a technician in whatever part of the work force we have chosen. We work hard to be the best technician we possibly can be. We are rewarded by being promoted to management material and look after staff. Nobody is ready for this. Not one course that I am aware of teaches staff/people management. We all wanted to be technicians. We don’t know what to do.
    The task of a highly effective leader is not an easy one. I have managed people for a long time. I still don’t know enough. Your work should be compulsory viewing for all leaders.
    Thank you for your great effort.
    Stephen.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      Thank you for your kind words, and your recommendations of my work.

      I am so happy you have taken value from this post. You are so right, there are not enough leadership programmes out there for non-leaders. It is assumed that the best technicians or workers will be the best leaders, and that is not the case. We all need leadership training and mentoring.

      If I can be of that service to you then I would be honored. Please revisit whenever you like and engage with me.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. This is an informative article. I am a Leader in a manufacturing setting, often times ownership and even senior executives lose sight on what is important. They focus what you state products or results. I completely agree, that you must focus on your people because they are your ultimate asset.

    1. Hi Evan,

      Thank you for your comment. Really appreciate it.

      People are the ultimate asset, and the amount of time we focus on our people is not even half of what is required. Focussing on the wrong things is why organisations do not succeed as they should.

      Really pleased you found the post valuable. Please return and keep engaging.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. This was very helpful and inspiring for me. I want to be a good leader and role model for my friends and family and when you talked about how you must focus on the competition rather than the product it really hit me. As I’m growing my business I really need to remind myself that its not about making my money. Its about helping people! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Aminah,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article inspiring, that was my intention.

      You are absolutely right, our business is about helping people and not making money. Money is a by-product of helping people and serving our purpose.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. I know what you mean about having a bad boss. About three years ago I had a boss who used to have his own little circle of friends in the store and if you weren’t a part of that group you always ended up with all the rubbish jobs and problems to deal with. So a few of us went over his head without telling him to the area manager after a while he was stood down once an investigation went ahead. But for about a year it was the worst time I have ever had in a job.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that this article resonated with you.

      Thank you for sharing your tough experiences with your boss, and well done in standing up for yourself and seeking help when things were getting too bad. I have had similar experiences and actually did something similar to try and relieve the situation.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  13. Hi Tom,

    It is a great article. The relationship is the most important thing for me in the workplace. I remember that I left my last job is not because of the salary or workload. It is because of my relationship with my boss.

    Now, I’m a team leader. I try my best to develop a good relationship and build trust with my team. I don’t want to be the kind of my old boss. Otherwise, I think most of my team members will leave me.

    Thank you for sharing, Tom. Keep it up.

    Alex

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences as a team leader, and I couldn’t agree with you more that building relationships and trust with our people is the most important thing. We need to keep our relationships strong if we are going to increase our influence and help our people to reach their full potential.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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