I had a great conversation with a colleague the other day, and like many coaching moments, it began with a great question:
When you’re fed up leading a “problem” employee, how do you not let your frustrations impact the way you lead that person as well as the other people on your team?
The truth is that a teammate’s bad attitude can make us dread interacting with them, and we can find that when we’re around a negative person our own attitude gets worse over time. So what should we do? Here are a few actions:
Lead people as individuals. Yes, we lead a team, but we don’t lead every person on the team the same way. Just as those of us with kids parent each child differently based on their needs and personalities, the same goes for our team members. Don’t let your frustration with one teammate negatively affect how you interact with the rest of the team.
Treat them like a 10. John Maxwell teaches leaders to “picture a 10 on everyone’s head.” Make each of your employees feel valued. If recent events have made that difficult, think of a time when your employee did really well at something. If they feel you are for them, then they are more likely to want to rise to your expectations of them.
Address the problem. Yes, we need to learn how to rise above a teammate’s bad attitude, but we can’t let that bad attitude continue and negatively affect the rest of the team. Address the attitude in a critical conversation. Tell them how their behavior is affecting the team, and why that goes against your team or organization’s standards. Discuss how they can use their influence to lift up the team rather than drag others down. If they blame their attitude on other people or situations, ask them, “What have YOU done to fix that?”
Look in the mirror. Teams often adopt the attitudes of their leaders. Is there a chance their behavior is a reflection of you? Are you sarcastic? How is your tone? We must be intentional about how we act around our teams.
Shake it off. Any leader of a team can have a day that includes celebrations, critical conversations, wins and disappointments. We must be able to celebrate the highs and endure the lows without letting the challenges permanently drag us down.