Don’t settle


Sharon is a director of sales in a large company. She’s a “manager of managers” and a relatively seasoned professional, with six years of management experience under her belt.

I love what she stands for. She is a positive person, upbeat and forward thinking. She sees the strengths in her team and guides them to capitalizing on those. She is also kind hearted, sometimes to a fault.

Sharon “inherited” a manager who reports to her that she was warned about. She knew this person before she took over the sales organization, and always saw him as organized, driven, and creative in the sales deals he could put together. He has a particular knack for knowing what will work best for each customer.

She’s taking a closer look at him, because she’s hearing things from the members of her team that she doesn’t like. They report that he is undercutting some of them, and doing whatever it takes to make the sale.

Yet….he’s likeable and great at sales, always meeting or surpassing his goals as the highest earning salesperson on the team. Sharon is beginning to see some of his overly-competitive nature, and has talked to him about the negative impact he makes on his team.

A few months down the line, she’s starting to see that he hasn’t changed his behavior. She’s having a hard time reconciling his great contributions in sales with some behaviors that aren’t pretty.

What would you do?

You shouldn’t settle for anything less than integrity in each member of your team. Here’s why:

Lack of integrity will damage your team: It’s always amazing to me how one person can make a difference – in a positive or a negative way – to a team. One bad apple can demoralize a team with their behavior. They drag everyone down, negatively
impacting the bottom line numbers and the mission for the team.

Accepting anything less than integrity is damaging to you: Your team is watching you. They may see you tolerating unethical or immoral behavior because someone is good at what they do. Mark my words, they’re talking about it. And somewhere down the line, someone you don’t want to know about the behavior of the bad apple will get wind of it. It will damage your previously stellar reputation if you don’t do something soon.

It’s catching: When integrity is compromised, and you don’t deal with the individual that’s causing problems, others may assume a lot of things. One of them is that the bad behavior is okay as long as someone is (choose one) making their bottom line numbers, smart, productive, driven, creative, or contributing to the mission. Things can get out of hand pretty quickly, and then you have a bigger mess on your hands.

Never settle for anything less than integrity in your team. Make your expectations are clear, and (hard as it can be) deal swiftly with the individuals who are compromising the ethics that are expected. Your leadership reputation and that of your team depend on it.



I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.