As a leader you don’t want happy people – you want passionate people. You want a team who share in the vision and believe that the goals of the organisation justify extraordinary efforts. Passion, belief and enthusiasm are great qualities – especially if they are allied with constructive dissent. The ideal companions on your journey want to achieve the same ends as you but they are prepared to challenge your views and to suggest better ways to do things.
However, in most teams there is a mixture ranging from the enthusiastic to the neutral through to the negative and cynical. The leader takes on the task of convincing every one of the benefits of the journey. If, after all your best efforts, there remain one or more people who refuse to buy in then you have to consider what impact their attitude will have on the rest of the team.
People who are cynical can act like a poison in the body. The negative can undermine the team. Even if they are very competent in their positions it is better to be rid of them. If they cannot be persuaded to support the common purpose then should leave in order to pursue something they can believe in.
Many managers find this very difficult. They think that all issues can be resolved by patient discussion. But if all the discussion fails then you should make the tough decision and move the cynic out. It is better for them and it is better for you that they go.
The author and psychiatrist, Mark Goulston, argues that effective leaders move quickly to get rid of the bad apples. Negative situations with difficult people can bring a potentially great company to its knees. He recommends categorising your people into one of four types – destructive, difficult, good or great. From speaking to top CEOs he advises, ‘Recognize and cut the difficult and impossible people early on. Recognize and value good and great people so you can keep them in your life longer.’