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If You Lead – You’re Going to Bleed

The world of instant messaging is tough to live in as a leader. The second you execute a plan within your organization the news spreads fast. Clients, vendors, employees, former employees, analysts, and if you are large enough even news outlets create a story that is seldom connected to the reality of your decision making.

New to management and leadership? This will be foretelling. Long time leader? You’ll understand.

If you are leading your department or organization, you will simply end up with enemies even if you are leading well. While you should always permit your leadership decisions and methods to be questioned, you must realize there will be an unbalanced amount of negativity coming back your way.

People you terminate are going to dislike you. Seldom do they come back and thank you for helping them move on to other opportunities or share their reflective self-discovery after the event. They will forever spend their lunch meetings attempting to mutilate your character. Nor are your competitors going to sit on the sidelines praising your tech choices, staff reductions or leadership style.

It would appear on LinkedIn or at conferences that leadership is only about creative innovation, disruptive change, and employee development. A leader knows there is a lot of ugly to deal with too.

When I worked in radio I was given a directive from our group owner, Marcos Rodriguez. We were sitting at the Four Seasons in Irving, Texas at breakfast when he said, “Your job is to protect this company.” I was 25 at the time and did not have the full understanding of what he was asking me to do, but over time, I understood.

Leadership is all encompassing. You must be engaged in the daily activities, reflecting on results, watching for change, investigating opportunities, motivating, and countless more blog post material subjects. You must also be watching for selfish players, bad behavior, careless actions, dangerous relationships, and caustic personalities.

Within every thriving organization is a canker to the rose. Part of your leadership is to identify it and cut it out with extreme prejudice. Such statements don’t get you invited to Ted Talks.

So long as we are serving with people, there will be problems. You cannot permit a careless person to put your licensing in jeopardy, or a selfish person to ruin the synergy of your team, or an indignant person to infect a department, or a foul person to intimidate others. If you have over 15 employees, some of these types are in your midst, you may yet be aware.

Few want to talk about the human condition. As a Christian I have a worldview that makes me aware of not only the sinful actions of those around me, but more importantly my own. This worldview demands change on my part when I identify a personal pattern I must correct, and it also demands change when others are unwilling to identify, accept and change their actions.

Protecting the organization requires your discernment to always be on point.

As a leader you should be in the business of serving others, helping them grow, providing them opportunities to learn from failure, and encouraging and assisting change.

However, don’t let the modern chatter blind you to your other duty. There are those among you who will never adapt. Terminate them quickly, and then take the cuts and blows they deal out to you in the market.

Competitor and former employee gossip are but superficial wounds to a leader.

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