Bad Attitude, You’re Fired! (Part II)

Why do so many teams have people with bad attitudes? Because leaders allow it! They tolerate it in the name of “patience” or “being understanding.” They think that it is a normal part of a team.

Big mistake!

bad attitude image

As a leader, I want you to know the following:

  • A bad attitude is NOT “normal,” and it is not OK.
  • A bad attitude in one member of your team will make your entire team dysfunctional and ineffective.  It will make your team mediocre.  That is because communication gets stifled, and energy is spent in dealing with the bad attitude instead of forward progress.
  • It is your responsibility as a leader to deal with it.  When I see a team where someone consistently has a bad attitude, I blame one person – the leader.  Many times that was me.  I was unwilling or unable to deal with or remove the person with the bad attitude.  The whole team suffered because I failed as a leader.
  • Hire for skill and attitude. We usually hire for skill. We mostly want to make sure a person can do the job. But do we pay attention to see if a person can fit in a team?  Can they maintain a good attitude when things do not go their way?
  • Fire for attitude.  Skill can be taught.  Attitude usually cannot.  The faster the person with a bad attitude is off your team, the faster your team can heal and grow.
  • You may be the cause of everybody’s bad attitude.  If everyone on your team has a bad attitude, it is worth asking if you are the problem.  Are you the one that needs to move on?  Or are you the person with the bad attitude?
  • Nurture, love, and empower – But don’t make excuses for bad attitude.  This has been a challenge for me.  I naturally tend to nurture and empower people. I also tend to make excuses for their bad attitude. Bad mistake.
  • Don’t keep someone with a bad attitude because they have a great skill.  Most of the time as leaders, we think it is better to keep someone with a great skill even if they have a bad attitude.  Another bad mistake.  As a leader I can do 10 times more with a team that gets along, that may have less skill, than with a team that has great skill but does not get along and is full of drama.
  • The most important job of a leader is to induce coordination of effort in a spirit of harmony.  If your team is running wild, not getting along, not working together, where poor attitude and drama is the culture, and you cannot induce harmony – you simply need to resign your post.  You are not doing your basic job as a leader.
  • People learn from each other.  People have a tendency to adopt the attitudes of those they spend time with – to pick up on their mind-sets, beliefs, and approaches to challenges. Bad attitude can and does spread among your team members.

Now, that I have hopefully convinced you to do something about it, the question is how.  Let me give you some pointers:

  • Decide to deal with it.  No ifs, ands or buts.
  • Work on your leadership.  If pushed enough, any of us can have a bad attitude. So make sure you are doing your part and supporting your people to ensure you are not frustrating those you work with.
  • Know what great attitude is and model it. 
  • Be patient with and love the person with a bad attitude.  Let’s not be judgmental. Sometimes a small change or a warm talk with a person can turn them around.
  • Make the person aware of their bad attitude.  Many times we are unaware of what we are doing and how we are acting.  Talk with people who have a poor attitude kindly, clearly and frequently.
  • Communicate clearly that a person’s attitude is affecting the team. Ideally as a result, they will make the changes necessary to resolve the problem themselves.
  • Communicate clearly that a person’s attitude cannot be tolerated. Communicate that your responsibility is to the team, and that you would not be doing your job if you allow it.
  • Do not excuse and forever allow it to happen. Have the courage to remove the person with a bad attitude.  And that could be yourself. If you find that your attitude is bad and you cannot seem to change it, do yourself and your team a favor and resign.

Tolerating a bad attitude or dealing with it directly distinguishes an effective leader from an ineffective leader.

I can tell you from personal experience that it is not easy to deal with it.

But we must!

Your friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

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2 Comments
  • JCurtis
    Posted at 00:26h, 10 November Reply

    I think your absolutely right Wes. Attitude can be very contagious wether its good or bad. Its better to be contagious for the right reasons. Courage and knowledge on how to recognize and address an individual that is spreading a ‘bad virus’ through the team I think should be in the top 20 items that a leader should strive to learn. Its always a ‘tough one’ to confront a topic with an individual like this the right way for the right reasons. cheers

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 07:59h, 10 November Reply

      Thank you Jeff for your comment! Totally agree! Well said, it takes both courage and knowledge to get this done… thanks!

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