In my book and keynote speech, I talk extensively about the importance of getting the right person in every chair. Why? Because at the end of the day, your organization is only as good as the people in it. And, if you allow people to stay who are not the right fit culturally or who are incompetent at their job, it won’t be long before all the other employees start questioning leadership’s ability to lead.
Case in point. In an interview with CNBC, Charles Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., said he realized on his second day on the job that the best way to transform the company was through the people. “The easiest way to change the culture is to change the people,” says Bergh. “I had 11 direct reports. In the first 18 months, nine of them were gone.”
However, Bergh also admits that there were still times when he didn’t act quickly enough to remove people who weren’t the right fit. When asked about his biggest regrets, Bergh replied, “Not exiting people soon enough when I knew that there was something not right.”
Not moving talented people ahead fast enough was among his other regrets. “We have lost people who I regret that we lost. At the end of the day, it’s a people game,” he added.
Does this mean that leadership should just start firing people? To the contrary. It means that leadership needs to re-prioritize and embrace the fact that people are your most important asset. And those people need to be led, guided, coached, counseled, trained, developed, promoted, and sometimes fired.
One of the most important jobs of every leader is to have their finger on the pulse of who is in every chair and what each person needs to become the best version of themselves. It’s no easy task, but you will be rewarded with a team of engaged, involved, enthused, effective people who can take you places you’ve only dreamed of.