Is there ever a time when it’s okay to turn your back on someone? 

It’s a question that surfaces often in my consulting work. Whether it be helping an organization, a team, or an individual work through change, there is always one person, or a small but vocal group, who plays the foil.

We often refer to such people as the resistors. Deemed in some way as trouble, the foil threatens the forward march of change.

Resistors aren’t bad. In fact we know resistors can play an essential role in strengthening change. My opening question isn’t directed towards such individuals. I’m referring to those whose behaviors are toxic and cripple the health of a team and threaten the heart of a company – its culture.

Is it okay to turn your back on the person who fits into this role? Yes.

For a team or an organization to thrive during or after change, the person or persons who truly weaken the future must be removed. No one person is more important than the team.

To allow for toxic individuals to poison progress and a team is a harmful leadership choice that cuts to the heart. It’s a choice that stifles relationships. It’s a culture killer. It’s a choice that sends a message that toxic behavior will be tolerated.

Leaders owe to their employees a diligent cultivation of workplace optimism. To allow for anything else is leadership malpractice.


Photo courtesy of  U.S. Army’s Family & MWR Programs