Years ago I was let go from a large, struggling global company. A good friend of mine survived the cut and I recall being a little envious of him. Until a year later when we met for lunch.
I’ll never forget the hangdog look on his face when he shuffled over to our table. This guy had an Ivy League MBA and was a terrific executive, but he looked defeated.
It got even worse when I told him about the exciting new gig I’d found. “What’s the matter,” I asked him.
“They keep raising my salary,” he said. “They’re really happy with what I’m doing. And my colleagues are really nice. But the leadership team is a bunch of complete losers.”
He went on to describe executive meetings where great ideas go to die. People whose number one goal is to protect their turf and survive. Fear of change. Low expectations. Mediocrity.
“I have to get out of there,” he said. “Otherwise I’m going to ruin my career.”
My friend was a high performer on a low-performance team. And it was killing him. What got him the most was the low expectations. Some people delight in low expectations because it allows them to coast. Not my friend. He was ambitious. He wanted to learn and grow. He wanted to change the world. And he was on a team that was all about the status quo.
I asked him why it was like that. He responded without hesitation; “My boss, the CEO, is a low-performance guy.”
Are you in charge of a team? If so, how do your people feel about being on your team? Excited? Engaged? Proud? Or a little too much like my friend?
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