Leading Losers

I have this strange habit of randomly picking up books that I have read in the past and flipping through them to see what notes I wrote and what things I underlined when I originally read through it. It's sort of my way of keeping it fresh in my mind, I guess. This morning I picked up Good to Great and I remembered an interesting point that Jim Collins made. He said that "people are not your most important asset – the right people are." True enough.

But I'm a big believer that the 80/20 rule applies to work. 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. So what about the rest? What about the people with bad attitudes? What about the people that can't pull their own weight? What about the people who think they are better than they really are? What if you are assigned to manage that kind of team? Or in other words, how do you lead losers?

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Let's face it – sometimes we just get stuck with a team we don't want. Maybe the team can be replaced over time, but what if they can't? Can a good leader pull together a group of less than stellar employees to make something great happen? Tough question. It boils down to your belief about why losers are losers. Are they not living up to their potential? If that's the case, a leader can bring it out of them. Or are poor employees doomed to always be poor employees? If so, is there anything a leader can do?

If you are a top level executive, you may have the luxury of picking your team. But what about the masses of middle managers that don't. Is there any hope for them?