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How to Foster Commitment, Rather Than Compliance

A team will eventually sink toward the level of its worst player


“God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy.”

—Billy Currington, country singer

Not my favorite country song, but I like the line. I don’t feel qualified to address the “God” assertion, but I’ve had my share of beer (and brew my own) and have worked with some crazy people. Been one myself a few times, I suppose.

Technology, automation and digital disruption dominate discussions when speaking with many CEOs, but the most interesting challenge involves the people. How do I best engage my people? How do I foster commitment rather than just compliance? How do I get their heads and hearts into the work along with their hands? And, of course, how do I deal with the crazy ones?

I’ve been coaching executives — most of them CEOs — for a long time. We talk about many things, but in almost every assignment the discussion eventually turns to the problem on their team. Let’s call him “Joe.”

Joe is one or some of the following: Disloyal,

  • Disruptive
  • Abrasive
  • Self-absorbed
  • Whiny
  • Untrustworthy
  • Unaware
  • Selfish

Do you know this guy?

One of the worst things you can do for your business is make accommodations for Joe. A team will eventually sink toward the level of its worst player — a regression toward Joe. It’ll also lose its enthusiasm, commitment and enjoyment. Your avoidance of the Joe issue is painful for all.

It’s also not right for Joe. When you’re a jerk or selfish, you should hear about it.  You should get a short period to fix it. And if you don’t, you should be shown the door. There are other jobs that can accommodate Joe. Counting grizzly bears in the deep woods of Montana comes to mind. Or maybe send him to your competitor.

Every time one of my clients eventually deals with Joe, there’s a sense of relief.

Every time.

Is Joe on your team? Those bears are waiting to be counted. Set him free.

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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