Why You Must Confront Seemingly Indispensable but Disrespectful Team Members

As a leader, what do you do when you have an employee who disrespects you in front of your team? What do you do when this employee is a top performer and one of your supervisor’s favorites?

Coach Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans

This is a difficult situation, to say the least, and one that almost every leader eventually finds himself confronting. These are the moments that define your leadership.

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Last Sunday, the Tennessee Titans football team lost to the Washington Redskins in overtime. Vince Young, the starting quarterback for the Titans, was injured in the third quarter. Angry, he tossed his jersey and shoulder pads into the stands as he left the field.

Things got ugly in the locker room. The Tennessean reported that Young was uttering expletives under his breath, as Coach Fisher began speaking to the team. Fisher asked Young to be quiet. Then, according to the Tennessean:

Young finished dressing and started to leave. Fisher told Young to stop, saying not to ‘run out on your teammates.’

Young then told Fisher ‘I’m not running out on my teammates, I’m running out on you,” sources said. More words were exchanged, and Young left.’”

As it turns out, Young will have to have surgery on his thumb, ending the season early for him. Regardless, Coach Fisher had already determined that Young would lose his starting position to rookie Rusty Smith.

To make matters worse, Owner Bud Adams has publicly said that the two men (Fisher and Young) better find a way to get along. This puts Fisher in a difficult spot.

I’m confident Coach Fisher will figure it out. He is the NFL’s longest tenured coach. He is smart and has lots of experience. But neither Bud Adams nor Vince Young are making it easy for him.

I have been in similar situations a few times. Perhaps you have too.

You have an employee who is disrespectful—perhaps even belligerent—but he’s a top performer. Management has put up with his antics because it’s not sure the organization can win without him. You are caught in the middle. What do you do?

Here’s what I have done in the past and what I would recommend to Coach Fisher if he were to ask.

  1. Get clear in your own thinking. Did the employee cross the line this time or not. Is this worth putting your job on the line. In this particular example, I would say, “yes.” The integrity of Coach Fisher’s leadership and the discipline of the entire team is at stake.
  2. Count the cost. To confront this situation effectively, you have to be willing to put your own well-being at risk. This is a bet-your-job kind of moment. Thankfully, these don’t happen frequently, but every leader will inevitably face situations that test their resolve and courage. There is going to be a cost either way—you might as well “pick your poison.”
  3. Secure your supervisor’s support. You need to explain to your boss what is at stake. Be calm and reasonable. Outline how you are going to confront the errant employee. Emphasize that you are going to try to resolve the situation amicably. But if you can’t, you will terminate the employee for the good of the team. You must then ask for your supervisor’s support. Be direct. If you can’t get his support, you must resign. You can’t lead effectively in this situation.
  4. Confront the disrespectful employee. Assuming you have your supervisor’s support, you must sit down and calmly talk to the employee. Explain that you don’t mind disagreements. But you cannot—and will not—tolerate disrespectful behavior. There are no exceptions and no excuses. Be clear that the employee has two options: he can apologize to you and to everyone who witnessed the behavior. Or you will terminate him for cause. It’s that simple.
  5. Give him some time to think about it. I would further explain that you want him to take the next twenty-four hours to think about it. Affirm him. For example, “Vince, you are an enormously talented player. You are a hero to thousands of people. Everyone is watching, including your family and teammates. This is an opportunity for you to take your leadership to the next level. It is a defining moment. There is more at stake here than you may realize. I am praying that you make the right decision. I want you on the team.” I would then tell him exactly when I expect to hear from him, turn around, and walk away.

You can’t develop people and take them to the next level unless you are willing to speak into their lives—for their benefit and for the benefit of your team. This is enormously difficult but an essential part of leadership.

Question: How have you handled situations like this? What have you done? What do you wish you had done? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.webwisedom.com Mike Wise

    Nicely done. Reminds of what Mike Brown et al DIDN’T do with LeBron James here in Cleveland. And in the end, the Cavs DIDN’T accomplish their goals. As the good book says, you reap what you sow, right?

  • http://www.michaelhsmith.com Michael H Smith

    Another good post. Thank you for observing and pulling leadership principles out of the headlines. Your observations and reflections on this situation are right on. Hopefully, as leaders, we will not be faced with these types of situations often.

  • http://www.kristinemcguire.com Kristine McGuire

    This is a very interesting and informative article. I wonder how many times people have allowed their emotions to enter into the situation of dealing with a belligerent team member or employee rather than follow this kind of a reasoned and thoughtful approach to a difficult situation.

    In the past, as a preschool teacher, I’ve had to deal with a situation where an assistant teacher was being incredibly disrespectful in front of the class. I did eventually have to pull her aside and speak to her about it and things improved. I see the wisdom in going to a supervisor first to get their support (even though in this case we were able to overcome the attitude issue without further incident.)

    Thanks for this post. Great insight.

  • http://Www.spencesmith.com Spence Smith

    Great post. I often wonder what the right response would be if I were in this situation on either side of this coin.

    • http://www.freezertofield.com Joanne mcgonagle

      Enjoyed reading this post. I unfortunately, had an experience where one of the investors of a company that I was partnered with behaved badly. Everyone at the company knew it but didn’t talk about the situation. Terrible. When he acted out disrespectful to Category Managers at major retailers, I called my attorney and asked him to work me out of the deal. There was nowhere to go. He was one of the bosses. Sometimes you need to make the decision to walk on. I am grateful that I had the courage to do just that and not suffer another day with that abusive and destructive person.

  • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

    I’ve had several situations similar to this due to working with family owned companies and their siblings. What I’ve learned is to handle the situation as I would regardless of the relationship. However, I must remember blood is thicker than water, so I still need to tread lightly.

    Definitely a difficult situation for Coach Fisher. It appears here Bud Adams is taking the easy way out.

    When all is said and done, if we make the right choice we will be okay. In my opinion Fisher is doing the right thing. If it doesn’t work out for him. He will find a much better job in the NFL. He’ll be around longer then Young.

  • Ben

    Thanks for another great post. I haven’t been in that leadership position yet, but I have been in the position of his teammates a few times. It is frustrating for management to bend all the rules for just one person. It brings down morale and causes everyone to do worse in the long run.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      True… this post applies to everyone!

  • http://Beltonchurch.com Jordan Hubbard

    I served as president for a community ministerial initiative in a rural town. The director of our food pantry was known for her immature, bad behavior and yet people including her pastor constantly excused the behavior saying that she just needed extra grace. I tried working with her for a year before she made racially charged comments that were quoted in the newspaper.

    I confronted her using the steps you described. She apologized and she resigned. Today the organization is healthier and she grew tremendously through the experience.

    • Margaret

      I respect what you did Jordan. Too often, I’ve seen ministries keep the bad apple. A church I attended years ago refused to pull aside a bad apple from a leadership position, and it caused the church to go into the red literally over night. Unbelievable.

  • http://www.russell-media.com Mark Russell

    I was glad to see you say that if you can’t secure your supervisor’s support you should resign because you can’t lead in that situation. A few years ago, I had a supervisor who would never give support so that he couldn’t be held accountable with me for my decisions. After many frustrating situations, I finally explained that I couldn’t succeed in the program I was running because those under me didn’t see him giving me support. When he balked, I resigned and I’m still glad I did!

    • http://www.validleadership.com James Castellano

      Good Point Mark, there are times when we have to consider an ultimatum as one of our options.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have only had to offer my resignation three times in my career. In fact situation, it proved to be the tipping point that got the right thing done. It is never easy. It is always scary. But leadership requires courage. Sometimes, you don’t have an alternative.

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  • http://katdish.net katdish

    Having grown up a Houston Oilers fan, I’ve seen Bud Adams style of leadership. I wouldn’t hold my breath hoping he’ll do the right thing.

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  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    As a NASCAR fan, one of the best leaders in tough situations like you describe is Coach Joe Gibbs. Working with talented and emotionally charged young drivers can be a real challenge at times. The media has cameras and microphones everywhere, and when an errant comment, reaction, or waving middle finger makes the headlines, Joe has always been one to bring calm, take the lumps, and move on.
    It seems at times a strange dichotomy that the best drivers/players are often the most emotional hot heads on the planet. Being able to manage that emotion marks a great leader.
    Thanks for your list, Michael. It is spot on and one that Coach Fisher and other leaders might want to consult in the coming days.

    • http://www.pastorbrett.com Brett

      “It seems at times a strange dichotomy that the best drivers/players are often the most emotional hot heads on the planet.”

      I can see how this seems like a strange dichotomy, but on the other hand it should not be too surprising. For a lot of these athletes, their dominating talent has allowed them to get away with a lot more than others. People look the other way more often for these prima donnas. Because this is the case, they have not had to face the consequences for their emotional outbursts.

      A wise friend of mine said that talent takes some people a lot further than their character can sustain.

  • GB

    My perspective of the Titans scenario is that Fisher was put in a difficult position when he was directed by the team owner (Bud Adams) to draft a QB (Vince Young) that he would not have chosen otherwise. It also put Vince Young in a difficult position in that Fisher has accordingly responded to Vince in a manner differently than he has to other players, (e.g. comments about Randy Moss not getting targets after Collin’s start in one week vs after Vince’s start the next week). It appears to me that Vince is frustrated by becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL (in terms of the passer rating system) yet not getting respect from the head coach.

  • http://www.Unwilling2Settle.com Greg Gilbert

    I’m not familiar with Bud Adams but his statement wouldn’t make me comfortable about coaching under his leadership or is it just ownership. We receive what we tolerate and this type of behavior can not be tolerated. I treat these with the “Overall Appraisal”. Results is a major part of this but so is the ability to work with others. If at any point any aspect of the appraisal “drops below the line” I return to Leadership 101. Here is where you are, here is where you should be and here is what will occur if you are not there. Again, we receive what we tolerate in ALL roles in our lives. Mother , father, son, daughter, employee, manager, coach, player, owner and VOTER.

  • http://www.tricycleinc.com Sujeel

    Thanks for these simple, effective points. It’s a gut-check moment and unfortunately there’s no guarantee that making the right choices will ensure everything comes out okay. But “everything coming out okay” isn’t what you seem to be talking about as the goal of leadership. A person’s [or an organization’s] integrity is only as good as the last thing they did.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. This is a test of Coach Fischer’s leadership, too. I hope he doesn’t short-change himself. He would land another job in a heartbeat.

  • Julie Kolb

    Great post..Perfect example of Leadership and what steps should be taken in this situation..My comment comes from the employee side..Seems in today’s media it is acceptable to be disrespectful to authority..One of my biggest pet peeves are TV commercials that make the boss out to be a fool..(I won’t even go into sitcoms)..I get that it’s for a laugh..But really, what message are we sending..Not only in the business world, but in any form of leadership..Hopefully, one works for a great boss, if not move on..Generally speaking, though, someone in a leadership role has earned the right be there…So, show them the respect they deserve..In the end, it’s a reflection of your own character, minus all your talents.

  • http://twitter.com/eicdocket Kim Howard

    Michael, this was an excellent post. Thank you.

  • http://www.twitter.com/juanbg Juan

    Hi Mike,
    Great post, this is a tough one – when you have your super start going rogue, turning against you and the whole team.
    Recently promote to a management position, I already had my first experience with a low-performer employee that had been hired by my manager. However as you wisely pointed out – before I accepted the position I made sure I had the full support of my manager to make changes if I needed to. So before I reacted I put my thoughts to the bed to let go the anger, then the following day I spoke with my manager and then I spoke with the employee. Things turned out for the better as this employee got the message that it was not personal, it was more a performance matter that needed to be resolved and addressed.

  • http://www.LaurindaOnLeadership.com Laurinda

    Great post. I believe your advice is true of most relationships: be willing to speak into people’s lives. I’m also glad you shared that he should quit if he doesn’t get the owner’s support. He’s a pawn otherwise.

    I don’t get why “indispensable” yet disrespectful people are kept on a football team or any team. It breaks the moral of other people who are working hard for the success of the team and yet aren’t in the limelight. I see people get moved from department to department in hopes of “finding a good fit” for them. When I see this I ask, it’s ok to have a bad attitude towards all if I’m not happy in the situation? We are all indispensable. Sometimes I think people with that attitude need a hard lesson in that – fire them!

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen. I totally agree.

  • Baljinder

    Hi Michael,
    I dealt with a similar situation last year, I followed your template above, however couldn’t get my management to align with me to get rid of that person. I protested that this individual’s continuation on the team would impact team and hence my performance. The management assured me that they understand the situation, and that they wouldn’t “ding” me for it. Fast forward 6 months, team performance was suffering and ultimately I was the one suffering as people’s memories are short, especially on assurances. I learned the lesson I should have put my foot down to either get rid of the guy or quit myself.

  • http://www.allhandsondeckbook.com Joe Tye

    Great post! Anyone who would like the advanced course on dealing with chronic out-of-line behavior should read “The No Asshole Rule” by Robert Sutton.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, despite the name, it is a great book.

    • http://www.aboutone.com/ogt joanne

      Funny – am looking on amazon now

  • Nancy

    This is a thought-provoking post, Michael, and it leads me to wonder whether there is a parallel approach to employees who are incompetent or ineffective, but retained because of some level of favoritism that looks past the incompetence. Can you post(or have you posted)anything similar that addresses the growth of employees in this way and how to respond if they cannot or will not develop within their job description/responsibilities to the company?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I haven’t posted on that exact topic. However, I will consider it. Thanks for the idea.

      • Shawn

        I have a friend who is in the position of two steps down … There are the top dogs, there is a manager, and then there are levels of employees below her. The manager does a good job of shining to the top dogs, but out of their sight, her behavior is unprofessional. She uses the exceptional efforts of her employees to bolster her own image, yet is erratic with those employees, embarrasses them in public situations, etc.

        Her employees love their work, love their mission and their product, want to keep their jobs, but the manager has made their lives miserable & demoralized the work place.

        How do the employees deal with this? If they don’t bolster their manager, the product they love fails & their individual reputations appear to suffer. If they fix their manager’s problems, there’s no evidence of problems.

        How do the employees pull the wool from the top dogs’ eyes?

        • Shawn

          I should make clear, my friend works directly under the problematic manager.

        • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I have been in this situation many times. I think the best thing you can do is work hard and deliver positive results. Eventually, you will extend your influence. In the mean time, you will learn valuable character lessons that will serve you well later. Joseph is a good example of this in the Bible.

    • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

      I agree, this would be a good topic. I work in a corporate environment for a Union. There are people who are retained simply because of the fact they can’t be let go. We see favoritism and incompetence and have management who seem to orchestrate all of the chaos.

      • Nancy

        It seems like a top-down form of disrespect that is more subtle in its presentation (as compared to Vince Young) but similar in the detrimental effect it has on those employees who essentially are consigned to carry the weight of and dust up after those who can’t or won’t fulfill their role. Maxwell’s *360-degree Leader* gives some ideas for influencing from where you are in the company, but this is a kid-glove topic.

  • http://jeffmcclung.wordpress.com/ Jeff

    Great post Mike. Thank you for outlining these steps so clearly. It seems both firm and fair. These kind of things are definitely a defining moment in any leader and team mates life, and not just professionally. I especially like where you talked about the importance of getting buy-in from your boss and what that may mean if you don’t.

  • Steve in Toronto

    What should you do if your leader is the one being disrespectful to members of the team?

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I would talk to him privately. Explain how it is received and help him see how it may be working against what he is trying to accomplish. If it didn’t stop, I’d look for another opportunity.

      • Deb Kinnard

        Been there, done that, some years ago. The supervisor’s answer was that he was not being disrespectful of anyone and we should look at our own attitudes first.

        The environment is still toxic to this day. Would I could retire and write more books, but that’s not what the Lord has for me yet.

  • http://spudlets.wordpress.com Marc Velazquez

    While Adams may be Fisher’s “manager”, in this situation you have the public as Fisher’s “supervisor”, and all of the attendant media spotlight. The other difficult aspect of this situation is that in the world there are about 20 men with sufficient skills to be considered above average starting NFL quarterbacks. The QB position has the most impact on team performance, so a QB who produces will be cut a great deal of slack on off-field issues.

    While Young may have teammates question the possible “bending” of rules for him, if he plays well and helps them win then the majority will not care (as long as they’re getting paid). As a head coach Fisher has to maintain his integrity with the whole team AND keep winning games. It’s no wonder there is a great amount of turnover of head coaches (two so far this season).

  • http://www.marcmillan.com Marc Millan

    I love this, just another great post that leaders need to read and learn to deal with more and more.

  • http://www.rowentree.com April Rowen

    Though I haven’t been in this position with an employee, I have been with a co-worker. After trying everything in the book to get her to let me do my job in peace, I finally wrote a letter to our supervisor, letting him know what was going on and that I needed help with a solution. He immediately acted on the letter and, after meeting with me, he gave her a ‘talk’. She was much better for a few weeks – dare I say, even pleasant!

    Then she got worse. Much worse – yikes! After confronting her gently several times over the course of a few months, I finally wrote another letter to my supervisor, only this time, (gulp) I added in my letter that I couldn’t work with someone who created a toxic work environment. Once again, they talked with her and, though she put on a show whenever management was around, she continued to be uncivil behind their backs.

    I ended up leaving. I wish I hadn’t been such a chicken and had met with my supervisor in person more than write him the two letters. Also, I wish I had given more of an ultimatum… but I would have felt bad for her being fired, even though she should have been years ago! Guess I’m still growing a backbone…

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I know, it is never easy. If it helps, I think you have to see yourself acting not only on your own behalf but on behalf of others. In other words, you are probably not the only one suffering.

  • http://curtismarshall.tumblr.com Curtis Marshall

    I love the practical nature of this post. I think we generally do pretty good until we get to #3. If we are able to secure our supervisor’s support, #4 and #5 aren’t too bad, but if our supervisor says no, it can be VERY difficult to walk way.

    As an officer in the military, walking away is not an option. Regardless of supervisor support, quitting is not an option. In this case, I would recommend practicing conflict resolution. Get to the source of the disrespect… maybe something is going on at home, maybe there’s some miscommunication. Work through the problem if possible.

    Learning to resolve conflict is a valuable skill for a leader as well.

  • Eric Bates

    No one likes confrontation (especially in my Southern U.S. culture). Confrontation done in the right way, however, will often turn smoldering conflict which is destructive to the team into an opportunity for the team to grow.

  • http://ellisstill.wordpress.com/ Ellis Still

    This reaffirms biblical leadership principles as demonstrated in a book I just read by coach and author Tony Dungy called “The Mentor Leader”. Great post!!!

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have not read this book would like to. It is on my list!

  • David Gould

    Good principles. Poor illustration. Fisher is complicit in what is a systemic problem. The Titans have created this environment through lack of leadership. This is not a new problem (Pacman Jones). This is not a past problem (Randy Moss). Fisher and Adams have established, through hiring (drafting) choices that this type of interaction is acceptable. They are reaping a crop from the seeds they have sown. So it is doubtful that a new movement of solid leadership will arise from this scenario. Again… your main point is worthy of consideration. But this situation does not quite illustrate the issues you have brought up.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might be right. I don’t follow football or the Titans closely enough to know. Thanks for your input.

  • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

    As CEO of my lawn company, I have had to confront a certain person about his work ethic… It is something that must be done to move forward.

  • http://www.shawnweekly.com Shawn

    Nice Post Michael,

    I think your recommendations were spot on. Unfortunately, Vince Young and Coach Fisher’s relationship is steeped in a culture that doesn’t take a persons feelings into account. I recall a press conference a few years ago, where Jeff, said in no uncertain terms, “I don’t care about his feelings” I feel Jeff’s sentiment would echoed by tons of Football coaches over the years. Many coaches often pride themselves on how their toughness, brings out the best in their players. The NFL locker is riddled with hazing and mind games.

    IMHO, Jeff had an equal share in what transpired yesterday. As a leader you have to invest in the people you lead. I don’t for one second excuse what Vince did, he was out of line. But, if we think back over the years we have watched football, how many times have you seen players and coaches being separated? Brett Favre, Sunday?

    One more thing to be taken into account. (By no means am I attempting to make excuses just reporting, a mindset.) Many professional athletes like Vince, don’t know how to be men (mature). I was just having this discussion with an associate, and the immediate response was that that the national media has taken. “That’s ridiculous!” Don’t Make excuses! Well without a viable example, how can we expect them to? So to expect them to handle certain pressures, like a mature individual, get lost in the translation often. Some might ask how I know. I have lost many jobs, in the past because I didn’t know that me and my supervisor, boss, coach or person in authority, where playing two different games. I had to relearn the rules.. I was around Vince’s age, and on a much much smaller stage.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      Totally agree with what you are saying… it’s time that men act like men!

  • http://www.hearthope.org Olga Griffin

    I wish my husband had seen this a year ago. It might have saved him a lot of grief. At least now he will have it for future situations.

  • http://thatguykc.wordpress.com ThatGuyKC

    Wow. Thank you for the candid advice. I have never been in a situation of having to put myself on the line like that, but I have had difficult confrontations with a team member before.

    #3 was integral in the positive outcome of the situation.

  • Kingsly

    Great Post!! These kind of situations are difficult to handle. All the points given are true and useful. I think we also need Divine Wisdom in such situation to handle it better.
    I was thinking of Jesus and how he handled Judas. Is there anything we can learn from Jesus, the way he handled Judas.

    Great post thanks for sharing..

    • Ken

      The best case scenario is when a leader or a coach has a player or other employee who can tow the line for him or her. When the coach is the only one who can adress a situation that usually means that all other players have given up or do not have the intestinal fortitude to take a stand. That is a tough place to be for any leader….when you are the last man in line to take a stand that usually means that all others have given up…isn’t that what made the movie High Noon so intriguing?

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    I was sad to hear how Vince Young acted. Regardless of his feelings towards his coach, to throw a temper tantrum and toss his jersey and pads into the stands is just childish… especially for someone getting paid the kind of money he is.

    All boils down to integrity in my book. Everyone makes mistakes. We all get angry but anger is like fire. It can be used to warm our food or it can burn our house down. We choose which it will be.

    Young may be a star and we don’t know the real issues between him and his coach but public disrespect is not the way to go.

    • http://www.bigb94.webs.com Brandon

      I like what you said about anger! I’ll have to share that with my small group sometime!

  • John Young

    For some of us who have managed creatives, the ego temperment can be a challenge to management. In corporate America the direct supervisor sets the rules. But even Fisher, while talented, must deal with his ego as Nashville tends to treat him like a rock star. Whether an NFL player or a recording artist who goes over the top, Fisher will have to deal with the fact (1 his boss expects Jeff’s maturity to exceed Vince Young’s and (2 Fisher’s own success this season is in the balance. Publishers need hit product and coaches need strong talent. There is a reason Microsoft or GE won’t hire guys like Vince Young. They’ve not been taught nor are skilled in a business culture and somewhere here, that perspective must be entertained. Vince Young and many NFL stars don’t think like us and we’re trying to assign expectations beyond him.

    • http://www.shawnweekly.com Shawn

      Nicely said John Young.

  • http://www.toddburkhalter.com Todd Burkhalter

    I love posts that are about real situations, it seems to create a higher since of relevance and learning as we either watch them develop or try and determine how we might respond in the same situation. I believe that rarely is there a circumstance when one member is greater than an organization. I can recall being on a college baseball team where one person was truly a standout, easily our best player. However, he was let go for acting in a way that put himself before the team. Our team actually rallied and performed better without that person than with them. There may be situations where that same result may not happen, but I know that our coach at the time was initially questioned by some fans and even some team members, but he initially gained great respect from some, ultimately gaining respect from everyone once emotions calmed.

  • Hans Schiefelbein

    Michael, I really like how you take a current event in such a relevant way and apply solid leadership principles. Thanks for speaking to this situation with clarity and certainty.

  • http://www.ahopeforthefuture.org Alan Humphries

    Thanks for a great article on a difficult subject! As a pastor I have had to address this on a few occasions but not a lot, Thank the Lord!

  • http://playerperspective.com J Danielle

    I’m a football blogger, so this was a nice tie-in for me. To continue with the Young example, he appears to have a history of mental instability if not illness. I think supervisors/managers struggle a lot with how to deal with team members who may simply be incapable of controlling emotions vs. those who simply don’t bother to try either because they know they’re high performers or they’ve always gotten away with it in the past. I think that can often be where “count the cost” is most critical. And that’s why many managers choose to find ways to work around the person who is disruptive (like giving others their work) rather than face them head on.

  • http://michaeldundas.com Michael Dundas

    For the most part I agree. But in the situation that was given, I wonder about the scenario. If Vince was upset and leaving, the right thing might have been to just let him go and deal with it later. If the coach in fact centered him out in front of the team, giving him an ultimatum, I think his leadership failed. He put Vince in a no-win situation. Vince now has a decision to make, do I back down in front of everyone, or do I stand up to this guy. Just seems like something a good leader would see and pull him aside immediately. While I can see how the coach would be upset of the impression it leaves, he is effectively doing the same thing to Vince.
    Sounds to me like the coach hasn’t figured out how to earn the player’s respect and now is just demanding it. But I wasn’t there, so who knows.

    • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might be right. Maybe I am just old fashioned, but I believe that employees (e.g., Young) have a duty to respect their supervisors (e.g., Fisher) in pubic. Disagreeing publicly is never a good idea, unless the supervisor specifically asks for it.

  • http://ModernServantLeader.com Benjamin Lichtenwalner

    I’ve been here twice in my career. While I am sure I did not follow these steps as perfectly as defined, I did try a similar approach. The first time, I was unable to secure my supervisor’s approval. Unwilling to resign immediately, I continued to carry the burden and struggle as a leader, for far too long. You are right – I should have resigned as soon as my supervisor was unwilling to support me on the critical issue.

    The second time, I did secure my supervisor’s approval. The problematic employee chose to resign. In the end, it was much better for the team.

    Spot on advice as always Michael. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dwright

    I have been a member of a team where bad behavior was accepted by management and consequently it hurt the entire team. Leaders must realize that once this behavior is not addressed appropriately it sets a negative tone for the team and consequently other individuals rate themselves by the behavior of that individual . It’s hard to discipline others when such terrible behavior is tolerated. Where do you draw the line?

  • Chris Foster

    I always say if it happened in public it needs to be addressed in public if it happened in priviate it needs to be addressed in private. If there is anything I have done in the past that I would change it is hold on to people after these types of outburst. With high performers they are you most passionate team members and after an apology for an outburst, I erroneously thought that we could all move on as a team. I believe you should seek to restore the situation but then begin to look at your exit plan for them. There are some things that the team simply wont recover from unless there is a total change in personnel.
    That change will either come on your clock, predetermined by you the leader or at a time when it is lest beneficial for the organization.
    It is always better to steer than to be steered into.

  • http://bretmavrich.posterous.com/ Bret Mavrich

    Great post. Just because you’ve got talent doesn’t mean you can be a tyrant.

  • Gail

    While this is good advise for the employee in question, don’t forget the rest of the team. I think the coach did a good thing in calling Young on his disrespectful behaviour on the spot, in front of the team, and then let him walk away so he could cool down.
    As a leader of many years I would have made sure that I addressed the rest of the team after Young had left with a comment like “Young has not only disrepected me just now, but has disrepected the team. That is not how we behave around here and I will be talking to him about it later.” It is important for others to know that this is not acceptable behaviour and that it will be addressed. While it is good to deal with the individual one on one later, the rest of the team needs to be aware that it was dealt with as it was public disrepect. It lets them know where the boundaries are, gives them security in the leadership and a sense of fairness should they ever be called on their behaviour. Too many bosses discipline only behind closed doors without those also effected by the poor behaviour ever knowing something was done about it, which has bad impacts on the team’s morale and trust in the leadership.

  • A. Pierce

    Great post, this is why it is very important to believe in and trust the organization that you are a part of before these situations arise. There is nothing like knowing that the leadership above truly trust your judgement and backs you. If you don’t have that support, you probably should move on anyway.

  • http://familysynergy.wordpress.com JD Eddins

    I completely agree. Of course for Tennessee another issue needs to be solved: Bud Adams needs to trust Jeff Fisher. From all accounts I have heard, Bud is the one who really pushed the team to draft Young in the first place. It didn’t appear that he was Fisher guy. It is very difficult for a coach to have success with a player that doesn’t believe in, especially at quarterback.

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  • Margaret

    Integrity without compromise–like. Cool head–yes. My direct-report manager grossly disrespected me once in front of my direct reports (hurling the worst of language, yelling). Immediately afterwards, she looked at her watch and said she had to go to a meeting. I was able to remain self-controlled. I immediately returned to my office, prayed, calmed down, went to HR a couple of days later (when I was even more calm), reported her behavior. They apologized, wrote her up, reprimanded her in a private meeting (almost cost her her job), launched a group-wide (included about 300 employees) presentation on how to treat fellow employees, forced her to apologize to our team (pitiful, she could hardly get the words out). I requested and received a relocation to another dept until I resigned (which I was planning to do anyway at the end of the year). The manager’s husband (who also worked in our group of 300, one floor below us) was terminated for sexual harassment within months after I resigned (no surprise). The manager’s friend, who replaced me after I relocated, was also terminated around the same time. Weeks before I resigned, God showed our office a very large, brilliant rainbow (the widest spectrum I’d ever seen), right outside our office window (it was though we could reach out and touch it). I sensed in my spirit it was a sign of something big–perhaps an answer to my daily office prayers (especially regarding cleaning house of tyrants). Sure enough, one month after I resigned, the company announced the sale of our group. Employees fell off like flies–some were terminated, some resigned. I’m happy that God moved me forward. I am VERY happy where I landed. :)

  • Sean Heritage

    Nice post, but a little old.  I’ve been following you long enough to know you are better than this.  Looking forward to running with your latest PODcast in the AM.