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Summary: Leaders are occasionally afflicted by "bad actors", those people who resist and may even sabotage leaders' activities. Here is a five-step process for dealing with bad actors.
Leading Bad Actors To Be Good Performers By Brent Filson
A successful leader told me, "The biggest challenge I've had in my career is dealing with bad actors. Brent, do you have tips on how to do it?"
First, before we can deal with "bad actors", we must define term bad actors. You already have a general idea of what term means. You know I'm not talking about stage and screen actors but those actors you must deal with in meeting your challenges. A bad actor is a person who is not a part of solution but is part of problem. Every leader has to deal with bad actors now and then.
Look at it from perspective of 20/40/20 rule. When you have to lead others to meet a particular challenge, roughly about 20 percent of people will be your ardent cause leaders in getting it done; about 40 percent will be on fence; and about 20 percent won't do -- or at least won't want to do -- what is required. This 20 percent could be called bad actors.
However, being a bad actor can mean different things to different people. From your perspective, bad actors may mean people who are resisting (or even sabotaging) your drive to achieve results.
On other hand, their colleagues might not view them as bad actors but as employees who are standing up to unreasonable demands of your leadership.
Further: "bad actors" may view their actions as heroic, and so wouldn't apply label to themselves. In fact, most bad actors don't think they are bad actors. Your labeling them as such may prompt them to think YOU are a bad actor.
All this begs question, why use term at all? My answer: don't. Words like "bad actors" or "bad characters" can turn out to be self-fulfilling prophecies. At very least, people whom you are labeling may resent your attribution, at worst they may actually like it and purposely and proudly act part.
Instead of calling them "bad actors", "bad characters", etc., I suggest you call them "not-yets." They are "not yet" on your side. This designation avoids emotional value-judgments and helps keep communication open in your relationship with them.
However, make no mistake, you have to do something about not-yets. The not-yets can be innovative, motivational leaders -- against you. Most want company; they need to validate their point of view by convincing others to join them.
There are three things you can do when dealing with not-yets. A. Accept them for what they are. B. Persuade them to change. C. Get rid of them. There is no fourth choice. Let's say, in a hypothetical case, that options A & C are unacceptable. That leaves B: You must persuade them to change.
Understand that there may be a continuum of persuasion: from simply neutralizing them (having them refrain from trying to enlist their own cause leaders against you) to having these leopards change their spots and actually become your cause leaders.