The Hardest Thing

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In this edition

This week’s newsletter is devoted to the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a leader. As your business grows and changes, sometimes you have to leave people behind.

Let me know what you think.

The Hardest Thing

Firing poor performers and jerks is easy. I don’t lose sleep over that.

There have been times in my past, though, where I have said goodbye to people who were once good performers, even great ones. I’m not talking about needing to make cuts because of financial pressures. Yes, that is indeed hard. What I’m referring to here are situations where, despite being great colleagues, sometimes people don’t have what it takes to continue the journey.

Letting them go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

These were people I knew I could count on, and I had counted on, to deliver.

They were loyal.

They were assets to the company not just for their performance, but for their contributions to culture as well.

And yet, through no fault of their own, the organization had grown up or had changed. Now, we needed something more or different. This new competence required experience they didn’t have or couldn’t learn.

These situations are quite common in growth-stage companies. I see them happening increasingly in larger firms as well, especially those undergoing significant transformation.

There are two choices you have as a leader.

  1. You can remain loyal to the person knowing that you will fall short of your goals, or
  2. You can make a tough decision and have an even tougher meeting where you put performance first.

Nobody ever said leadership was easy.

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