I once heard it said — of trying to find the right person for the job — that it is easier to give birth than to resurrect the dead. Meaning; it is easier to replace someone on your team (or the leader of your team) than trying to get a person who is not interested in changing their ways, to change their ways. Getting someone motivated is very simple if the person is teachable and hungry for success. The problem is, once a person has resolved to hang on yesterday, they will seldom desire to change, even though they know that the world is moving forward all around them and they are no longer doing so.
Sometimes a person spends years growing and reaching but then they plateau and stay there for a period of time, or worse – forever. When everyone else is moving forward, the person who has decided to plateau stands out – and not in a good way. When it happens to be a leader in the organization, their plateau can become contagious and that will breed apathy in the team below. We must be fair and give that leader every chance to charge their “weak battery” before they become a “dead battery.” But after you have given the leader several chances to change, given them opportunities for training, given several action plans, recommended books & podcasts, and finally included HR in the process; it is time to replace the individual.
I have spent years trying to help people grow; and more specifically trying to pour into leaders who simply would not receive the gesture. Only to find out that they were pretty satisfied with mediocrity. Mediocrity is the Achilles heel of success. You can never want it more for someone than they want it for themselves. One of my personal strengths is also one of my weaknesses – believing the underdog will rise up, fight back, and win. Most of the time, they will not.
Finding someone new is hard. It has been said the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. This is one of the reasons why organizations don’t move from good to great. Simply said, they get used to “good” because “great” seems so far out of reach. Keeping the same people and hoping they will change doesn’t have good odds. It can happen. It has happened. But not as many times as the demise.
After struggling to find a replacement, if you are patient, you will eventually find the right fit and you will be elated and wonder why it took you so long to act when your organization was stuck in neutral for so long. I can tell you from personal experience that the results are sweet and synergy that come from replacing Mr. or Mrs. Mediocrity is wonderful. Many times in the process, you will not only find a new leader; you will meet a friend, a confidant, an ambassador, and a game changer all in one. You’ll know the right person when you see their eyes dancing. I can work with someone who is ambitious and wants more out of life; and who is not afraid to put in the work. But if I look into a set of eyes and see flat eyes — like a taxidermy has gotten the best of them — it is highly unlikely any sort of change for the better is coming any time soon. That does not mean that someday they won’t get their eyes dancing again. It simply means for now, we need some new blood. New blood shows up early, stays late, puts the effort in, thinks “I can”, invests in themselves, believes in themselves, and is worth pouring into.
After you have given a period of time for change, training, and results; act quickly and decisively. Once you determine you do not have the right person in the right position – act. Find your new team and bring your organization/company/team to the next level(s). But be careful not to wait too long, as you might just rust out in the meantime.