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May 13, 2010

The Leader's T-Shirt


An entrepreneur friend emailed me this week and asked to remind him of a story I once told about the leader's t-shirt.  I had told him that I liked to imagine everyone on my team wearing a t-shirt that said, "I approve of how you treat people and they should follow you" and then my name would be signed below that quote.

If the idea of having a particular person on your leadership team wearing that shirt makes you sick at your stomach, it's time for them to go.  I think the idea should really apply to everyone in the company, but let's stick with the question I was asked.  If you have someone in a management position that isn't treating people right and setting a good example for everyone else, then they need to go.

Now my friend remembered the t-shirt story differently, but I like his version too.  He thought the story went like this  "if I could put a sign on everyone’s back and some signs read – I’m really not happy here—then it’s my job to find them out so I can fix it and they can end up at the place they’re supposed to."

I think he's combining my t-shirt story with Jim Collin's stories about having the right people on the bus and the idea of "First Who."  (Here's an audio recording of Jim talking about this - take a minute to listen to it and think about it.

One of my first entrepreneur lessons learned was that not everyone is going to be happy all the time, least of all me.  Sometimes it just isn't fun, and sometimes the hard times seem to go on forever.  That's life. 

What Jim Collin's is talking about I think is when you have someone who either doesn't fit the core values you are trying to maintain or they just can't do the job, and they aren't looking like they have the potential to ever be great in their job. People don't have fun when they are in a job that they aren't really good at.  If it is a skills issue, they are either in the wrong seat on the bus and you need to help them if you can, or they are on the wrong bus entirely.  And if they don't get that, you as a manager and leader need to help them get off the bus and not let them just ride around in circles on the wrong bus.  They won't ever reach their potential if they are in the wrong position and they are probably making other people miserable without even knowing it.  It sucks to tell someone they are on the wrong bus, but as a wise man once told him, "if you don't do it, YOU are stealing their life."


Thanks for the free t-shirt design template from Dennis Douven at Bytedust Visual Art & Design and Bytees.nl t-shirt shop.

May 13, 2010 | Permalink


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