LEADERS DON’T TRY TO CHANGE PEOPLE 2022-10-18T01:31:14-04:00


When I was younger and more naïve, I used to think that with adequate leadership and coaching from me, I could convince underperforming employees to change.

As I got older, I learned the hard way that certain behaviors or beliefs demonstrated by employees were not easily modified.

Certain employees were able to change their behaviors and become more productive, while many others were not able to do so or were not motivated to modify existing beliefs and habits, including:
-poor work ethics,
-troubling honesty issues, and
-inability to work successfully with other people.

For those employees who were unable or unwilling to change, I learned that, as difficult as it might be, it was important to coach them out of the organization in order to retain the culture of teamwork and positivity that I desired.

As leaders, we cannot change other people. In fact, other people will not change until and unless they WANT to do so.  The best leaders are also coaches, and coaches are fond of this particular joke:

“How many coaches does it take to change a light bulb?”

Answer: “Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change!”

So when you are faced with a recalcitrant teammate, you can strive as much as possible, including using your best leadership and coaching techniques, but please be realistic about the consequences.

Sometimes team members will grow and change for the better and become significant contributors to your team. In those cases, keep giving them as much positive reinforcement as possible.

But please remember that there may be many instances where despite your best efforts, difficult team members will not develop the willingness or capacity to grow and change.

In those instances, it is up to you as the leader to articulate and implement the necessary consequences.