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So you got your answer to the question of who is reliable and who isn’t. The next question to ask once you know someone is not dependable is, “What now?” Every team must decide if a person has the potential to improve or not. Stubborn people who do not want help should be separated from the team. Fired. Terminated. Graciously dismissed. Pick a term and apply it. The truth is you probably should have done it yesterday for the good of the team and if you’re experiencing a sudden judgement of my harsh previous sentences, then that probably demonstrates a sentiment holding your team back. I have made the mistake of making the same sentimental mistakes. Don’t worry, the following sentences should help you navigate the tough decisions leaders need to make. If a person is coachable and wants to improve and respects you enough to take instruction from you, then you can decide to develop them into a person who can be reliable in the future. People can grow and change when they want to. The key words are CAN and IF. That is they CAN grow and develop IF they want to.
Being in the midst of a crisis is an interesting study of our teammates. These can be actual teammates, like coworkers, or family. Who steps up? Who is able to read the room correctly and know that this is not a business as usual situation where normal expectations and entitilements no longer apply? Just as importantly and perhaps more importantly, who doesn’t? Figuring out who isn’t reliable to be at their best when their best is needed is a huge advantage for a team. It’s important to make sure the team you depend on can be depended upon. That should go without saying but a constant complainer and hole-in-the-bucket in good times is not likely to come through in a pinch. Team leaders must also be able to read the room during a crisis so that they can put everyone in a position to succeed because if they don’t, the team never will.
Leaders who hold the baseline between panic and dismissive indifference find themselves in the most precarious place. Some people will find their steadiness a comforting guide. Those are usually the ones who don’t swing too far from the baseline. They’re the reasonable folks who are looking for reason. Unfortunately, there are unreasonable folks who are, by definition, not actually looking for reason. This is why leaders are often second-guessed and villified. These people exist at all times but they get exposed more than ever in times of crisis. Those who panic wonder why others don’t and resent those who tell everybody not to. Those who are dismissive of a threat like to think of themselves as the smartest and coolest person in the room because they can’t be bothered by what “the idiot masses” get worked up about and therefore, see everyone more cautious than themselves in a category that is slightly less smart and cool as them. Leaders who are optimistically grounded while cautious take arrows from both sides. People tend to get pulled to panic or indifference by others. We need people to be leaders in their group, family, or team who are willing to take all the arrows in order to hold the baseline so they can pull people toward reason and safety.