Managerial Courage

Lately I’ve been thinking about courage. Not the kind soldiers or single mothers have. Managerial courage. The courage to do the right thing even when you’re not sure how it will turn out or how your actions will be perceived. The courage to tell an underperforming employee that he needs to do better. The courage to tell someone that she needs to start showing up on time or not to talk back to irritating customers. I know, it’s common sense. People ought to know that they should do their jobs, show up when scheduled and don’t give lip to customers. And if they did, a manager’s job would be a lot easier. Sadly that’s not the case. And that’s where courage comes in.

No one likes to inherit deadwood. Think of a time when you took over a new team or department. What did you find? Some excellent workers doing exactly as you would hope and expect. And then the deadwood. A few people whom you can’t understand how they still have their jobs. How did the last manager let them get away with this level of performance?

Courage. The last manager lacked courage. For whatever reason, and I’ve probably heard them all, he did nothing and left this mess for you to clean up.

Do you want to be “that guy?” The one who leaves the deadwood behind. Is that the reputation you want? ┬áJobs are fluid nowadays, but reputations are fragile. Maybe the last manager didn’t handle the under-performer because he figured he’d be working somewhere else soon enough so why bother? The reputation he leaves behind though will follow him throughout his career.

Don’t be “That Guy.” Have courage. The rest of your staff are watching you. If you fail to manage your lesser performers, you will lose the ability, and possibly the right, to manage anyone.

I’ve got a few more thoughts on this so look for more example and thoughts on courage. And of course I welcome your examples. Let’s hear ’em!

One thought on “Managerial Courage

  1. Ugh. I’ve seen so much deadwood in my working life. Sometimes it’s not the manager not having courage to eliminate the deadwood, but the result of someone higher up in the food chain who says that the person must stay.

    It ends up being a chess game as you maneuver to put yourself in a position of ridding yourself of the deadwood. In many cases it’s related to how long you can wait before the obstacle moves out of your reporting line.

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