The cost of leadership is at best a delicate balance. It is a balance between deeply caring for everyone on your team, while keeping the interests, main goal at the forefront.
Sometimes working to keep this balance leaves the leader temporarily isolated and frustrated. The frustration comes from being really good, believe it or not. A good leader has spent countless hours building rock solid relationships with the team. The leader has to be selfless. But then ready to risk those relationships at the cost of completing the assignment.
Take my time as an HR Manager for a manufacturing facility as an example. Not only was I responsible for recruiting top engineering talent but then working with the executive leadership to “build out the team.” This just means “hey get good people and figure out how to make them work together,” which isn’t always the best approach to team building.
Our production lines were inefficient, matter of fact we were consistently ranking in the bottom half of about 10 east coast facilities. This was due to not having experts on hand to repair our German-made equipment.
The goal became obvious, find someone that specializes in the particular breakdowns we have seen and hire them…..like right NOW.
After 3 months of searching/interviewing I received a lead on a internal guy in the Midwest that was described as a troubleshooting monster. The problem was that he had also had a reputation for being a literal monster, constantly challenging his management team. Now challenging I can deal with but he had a slew of disciplinary actions too.
Being under pressure our team decided to hire him, thinking the reward outweighed the risk.
What followed were accusations of racial slurs, the pushing of a supervisor (it was a reported shoulder bump after a heated conversation about the supervisor’s inferiority), and finally a manager was threatened bodily harm. All instances except for the final one did not have any witnesses.
With all of this I was most certainly ready to move on from this individual.
My Director advised me that it was my call but our efficiencies were significantly better and he got along well with his direct co-workers as well as the executive team. Perhaps a suspension would be more fitting.
I now had a decision to make. One felt like it could ruin the relationships I had built with my colleagues (many of whom I had personally recruited and ate dinner with often) and the other would save the overall chemistry of the facility.
On top of this, I had to remember my mission to recruit and solve our inefficiency problems. Would I be let go due to getting rid of a superstar with a knack for being volatile?
In the end I was left sitting in my office, everyone else had left for the day, the moon ready to relieve the sun of it’s duties, I was alone.
This is the balance, people and priorities. Not being able to balance the two can result in the failure of your whole operation.
I let our superstar worker go because he was not a great employee. The long term damage on everyone else outside of the executive team was not worth it to me.