People Problems – 5 Things Keeping CEOs Awake at Night

By Mike Watson posted 10-10-2019 10:29


If you’re a leader you’re in the People business. Leaders are born and created. I’ve never met an unborn leader, but I’ve met many leaders who need to grow.  

If you don’t like people and don’t want to grow as a leader then please don’t take on the leadership role; be a great technician but please don’t try and lead.  We need great technicians and great leaders. 

Leading people is messy because you get all the person the good the bad and the ugly, they bring it all to work. Great leaders make it all work together.

Below are 5 quick thoughts for this week:

“People Person” gut check? 
Are you a people person? Do you care for your people?  Some may ask do you “love your people”. If you are not “for them” then how do you expect them to be successful? People pick up on the nonverbal communication. Check “your gut/ your heart”. People will die for leaders who they know will die for them and abandon leaders if the leader does not care for them. Where are you today with your heart for your people?

Do you provide true clarity of expectations for your team? This should be the first responsibility of a leader. If your team does not know what you expect of them then they will deliver that.   

Know your people
Do you know what your people want? If not ask them. It's been said, “Great performers know how to position themselves for success but great leaders know how to position others for success”. Do you have your team members correctly positioned? In most organization, there are three types of people:

  • Career builders – those working above and beyond and trying to move up the ladder. They may be loyal, till something or someone better comes along.
  • Purpose driven – they believe in something higher, a greater good, something with meaning. They have traditionally worked in non-profit but are now expecting the organization to also have a genuine purpose above making profit. If you demonstrate miss alignment with their purpose they will leave and will then let everyone know about it.
  • Work for $’s, live outside work; maybe the typical 9 – 5er’s. Maybe they are hiding in your company, maybe they want to do as little as possible, maybe they are super reliable but don’t want to do any overtime for it takes them away from what is truly important to them.

Personal inner security
When a leader is secure, it pollutes the team. Let’s be honest; you must have people in your team who can do their job better than you. So, celebrate their uniqueness and how it contributes to the team’s success. Be honest; your team knows when you're sweating and out of your depth. You must tap into their expertise when you’ve hit your limit. They usually want to be included.

Hire well
As the leader you decide who you let “on your bus” or into your team. You are responsible for the good and the bad things they bring to your team culture.  Deal with them through clarity, accountability and caring for them. But don’t let the wrong people into your team. When my friend retired as CEO of a 13,000 person company I asked him for a leadership reflection, he said “He was disappointed how much time he spent on the lowest performing team members verses the best team members”.  Let’s get the right people into the team.


About the Author – Mike Watson

Mike Watson MBS FCMC addresses the challenges leaders wrestle with every day including people, profitable growth, complexity overload and effecting change.

Mike has had an extensive career working with energy, construction, technology and service businesses across North America and Australia leading business model change, merger integration, benefits realization, CEO peer forums and enterprise wide change programs. He is a Fellow Certified Management Consultant, experienced Director and Executive Leader, and Past Chair of CMC-Canada's National Board of Directors. 

A version of this post was first published here.