Let me set the scene: You are in a business meeting with "Bill". Bill is very good at his job and always offers great input BUT his social skills are a bit lacking (to put things mildly). At this particular meeting, Bill was particularly abrasive, seemingly more concerned with demonstrating his display of knowledge rather than resolving the issue at hand. It goes without saying that this display also came at the expense of one or two meeting participants (i.e. If there was a whole in the floor, they would have jumped in). As Bill went into action, you could almost feel the energy shift from the tension in the room. After the meeting concluded (and throughout the day), meeting participants continued to comment on Bill's behavior at the meeting and talk behind his back wasting valuable time in needless banter and gossip.
Have you ever encountered a "Bill" in your work environment? Every organization has them – great contributors and generally viewed as good at what they do but tends to intimidate and demean anyone who gets in their way. The challenge with the Bill's of the world has always been the balance between business contribution and their negative impact on those who cross their path. The other challenge with the Bill's of the world is that when they are in positions of power there is rarely anyone who, for a variety of seemingly acceptable reasons, is willing to give them insight on their behavior. Sandy Gluckman, author of Who's in the Driver's Seat: Using Spirit to Lead Successfully, explains it this way: "When (bosses) are mean, their teams do not deliver great results, so they become more fearful. The more fearful they get, the more their ego takes control and the meaner they get. The meaner they get, the more the team shuts down and the less they are able to perform."
So, here's the rest of the story. Eventually, without ANY feedback, Bill will either continue to get promoted but whom everyone dislikes, avoids or fears OR he gets passed over without ever really understanding what really got in his way…
No skin off your teeth?
Maybe…but I would encourage you to think again. If Bill becomes the lead dog, you're in trouble because those same people that wouldn't give Bill feedback on his way up are also not going to give him honest feedback now that he's in a lead position which means he won't have the information he needs to appropriately guide the team or organization. Now, be honest…. How painful do you think THAT will be in the long run?
The question leaders often struggle with is, "WHO should give Bill the feedback?" My answer: Everyone. Does this mean doing a Bill intervention? No, but if your goal is to serve the best needs of the organization, finding an objective way to give Bill the feedback he needs now can only serve everyone best in the long-term and he may actually be grateful that you had the courage to speak up.
Continue to be great!