How To Handle Difficult Leadership Team Members

As unfortunate as it might sound, there seems to be at least one difficult member on most leadership teams. We all know the profile—they struggle to collaborate, feel like they are always right, and dismiss others’ perspectives. In fact, there has been quite a bit written about dealing with difficult people at work. While I agree with much of it, I think the solutions often are a bit simplistic.

Of course, toxic executives who are unethical or demeaning to others have no place in any organization and as challenging as it might be they should be counseled out. However, solutions aren’t quite as straightforward when dealing with high performing, talented senior leaders who frequently display difficult behaviors. I recognize that this notion goes against current conventional wisdom, but the reality is that superior senior leadership talent and expertise is worth a great deal to any organization and can sometimes outweigh the pattern of difficult behaviors individuals might exhibit. I am not suggesting that bad behaviors should not be dealt with, but I am submitting that ‘just fire him’ or ‘demote her’ are much easier to say than to do.

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